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Polish director Krzysztof Zanussi defends Bollywood ‘kitsch’

Renowned Polish filmmaker and Guru of cinema Krzysztof Zanussi was speaking during the press conference at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Goa. He confessed that he loved India and never missed a chance to include Indian references in his films.

He was at IFFI to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the opening ceremony of the festival. He spoke forthrightly about various issues including film censorship and Bollywood kitsch. He said that it would be a mistake to look down upon Bollywood variety of mainstream cinema. It draws inspiration from Indian artistic and cultural traditions, while catering to the lowest common denominators in a vast and varied country like India. It should be taken as a positive. He suggested that though some of us would like to watch more of art house films that does not invalidate Bollywood cinema in anyway.

On being asked about censorship of films and of the Internet content, he took a philosophical stand and termed the issue as complex with no easy solutions in sight. He said that even the security check at the airport is part of censorship and reminiscent of a police regime. Then there are other kinds and ways of censorship. He recounted how a ‘coterie’ of feminist film aficionados and professionals in Poland put obstacles in the way of his film for almost three years because he had a point of view that did not suit them. He also said that though Internet might blur cultural and national boundaries, it could promote destructive ideas as well.

Zanussi is a professor of European film at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland where he conducts a summer workshop. He is the director of the Polish Film Studio TOR and has received several prizes and awards. Some prominent films by Zanussi include THE STRUCTURE OF CRYSTAL (1969), THE SPIRAL (1978), and CONSTANT FACTOR (1980). Zanussi's works are often described as intellectual and deeply philosophical. He also has a close association with India, particularly Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, where he has conducted several workshops for the students since 1975. He has also shot a major portion of one of his films in India.

Rajesh Kumar Singh