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Short takes

Madhusree Dutta juggles multiple roles

Photo: S. Gopakumar

Balancing roles Madhusree Dutta

Madhusree Dutta revels in multiplicity; in balancing multiple roles. Not only is she an award-winning documentary and short filmmaker, but she is also a self-confessed curator, pedagogue, researcher, producer and activist. Madhusree, is also the founder and executive director of Majlis, a centre for rights discourse and multicultural art initiatives in Mumbai. Through Majlis, she is spearheading ‘Cinema City,’ a collaborative project on the impact of cinema on a city. She plans to premiere the film at the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) this December. She was in Kerala as chairperson of the jury for short films for the Second International Video and Short film festival of Kerala. Excerpts from an interview.

‘Cinema City’ project

It is an ongoing collaborative project that looks into metropolitan cities that produce cinema; on what cinema does to the city. The plan is to start with Mumbai and then look at various Asian cities that are post-colonial metropolises such as Hong Kong, Seoul and Tehran. We look at simple subjects such as migration patterns, language, de-configuration, impact on gender roles and so on.

Creating a film in collaboration

It’s very important. ‘Cinema City’ for instance, is a collaborative effort with many debutant filmmakers working with cartographers, linguists, visual artistes, literatures and so on. That gives the film a wider perspective, a combined voice.

Role of an activist filmmaker

What filmmaker is not an activist of some ‘ism’ or the other? Even Karan Johar and Ekta Kapoor are activists. Only they want to maintain the status quo. If someone says that they do not have an ‘ism’ then be sure that his films are regressive. Then again even if you have an ‘ism’ and are progressive it can also be dangerous.My guru, Vietnamese filmmaker Trin Te Minh Ha, once said that today progressive means fixed anti-position.And this anger is what sells today so much more than before, because activism is also a commodity. Earlier the West wanted exotic India, then poor India. Today they want poverty-prone, atrocity-prone India.

NITA SATHYENDRAN

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