At Berlinale 2020 to get the global industry take notice of his latest film ‘Shakeela’, Sarvana Prasad, Producer, Innovative Film Academy believes that European Film Market is the finest platforms to meet, interact and do business with film fraternity Interview with Saravana Prasad
What is your objective at Berlinale 2020 and European Film Market?
The Berlin film festival provides a wonderful platform to filmmakers, studio owners, artists and cinema critics to meet, interact and do business. As a film producer, I am here to promote my upcoming film ‘Shakeela’ in the overseas market for cross border distribution. Also, I want the global industry to notice the film for its artistic character and narrative.
As a studio owner, I am looking forward to get a networking opportunity with the global film fraternity present at the festival and also an opportunity to collaborate with potential partners. Above all, I would like to catch up with the latest and best in the world cinema to appreciate the creativity and the crew behind it.
Tell us about your biopic film ‘Shakeela’? How is it different from Mithin Luthra’s ‘The Dirty Picture’?
‘Shakeela’ is a women-centric biopic based on the life of Shakeela John, South India’s first major porn star. The movie was made in Hindi and dubbed in four other languages – Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. It is scheduled for release in June 2020. The story depicts her early life in Kerala, where she began her dominant run of films that set the industry ablaze with her market presence and loyal fan base. Set in the 1990’s—ironically a conservative time in Kerala— Shakeela’s films, particularly in Malayalam, were so popular at the time that every week she had a new release, thus giving a tough competition to the top stars of the industry.
This film, produced by Innovative Film Academy and directed by popular Kannada film Director Indrajit Lankesh, portrays the hardships of the actor as she had to face lots of criticism, insults and betrayals from her own family members and the film fraternity who succeeded in getting her films banned.
Having appeared in 250 adult films, a so-called ‘family-friendly’ project was next for Shakeela. She had a story, her life and that was what she wanted to capture. Unfortunately, the industry that profited so heavily from her turned their backs. To them she was a porn star not an actress.
The narrative seems to be changing in Indian cinema? Do you also see some visible changes?
Indian cinema has been globally known for its elaborate song and dance numbers; beautiful but often unrealistic backdrops with an exaggerated hero character. It is because of dramatic narratives and almost fantasy like love stories and plot lines, Indian cinema has often come under attack.
But with the changing political landscape and the mindset of new generations we are witnessing a transition towards more realistic plot lines where the audience can relate closely to the screen characters. These are set in heavy socioeconomic backdrops and focus heavily on political issues (example Article 15, Tamil film Tolet, etc).
‘Shakeela’ itself is a great example of films that highlight the plights of a non-traditional Indian woman, which goes against the traditional patriarchal narratives that we are so used to seeing in Indian films.
Another change we see is in the form of pushback from new content makers against the backward Indian censorship laws. Platforms like Netflix offer a safe way to content creation without movies like ‘Shakeela’ facing a backlash for showing real content.
Which projects are you currently working on? What are your goals in year 2020?
Currently, I am looking forward to the release of our latest film ‘Shakeela’. We are also working on new scripts to start a fresh film production project, which will be announced in June this year. The film will have a global approach and will be released in multiple Indian and international languages.
We are also looking to expand our studio facilities in Bangalore to collaborate with international studios and bring in the latest technologies for production and post-production works.
Apart from this, we have our upcoming Innovative International Film Festival 2020 where close to 20 countries are expected to participate.
We also have Innovative Film Academy, where we are constantly evolving new and contemporary teaching techniques. We organise Master Classes, workshops and longterm courses for students covering various aspects of filmmaking.
Tell us about the Innovative International Film Festival (IIFF) slated for May 2020 in Bangalore? What’s the focus this year?
IIFF 2020 aims at creating a meaningful networking platform by facilitating the congregation of Indian and international filmmakers with a special focus on South Indian film industry – Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.
With the eminent film fraternity in attendance, the event promises to reward every participant with a rich learning experience through a series of activities curated for the festival which aims to recognize and exhibit artistic and meaningful cinema.
Innovative International Film Festival’S USPs
• International Countries’ Tie-up – Special emphasis is given to promote the cinemas, shooting locations, filming policies & cultures of 15+ Countries, which are expected to participate in the festival this year. This offers Indian filmmakers opportunities for foreign collaborations, content exchange and co-production.
• 100+ Indian & International Film Screenings – The festival tends to bring to its audience tastefully curated – feature films, documentaries and short films – in Indian and foreign languages.
• Association with Indian Film bodies – to ensure the attendance of filmmakers and the industry from all States of India.
• Participation of Indian State Governments- to create awareness of the services offered by State film facilitation Offices, State policies, incentives & shooting locations for film production teams.
• Master classes & Talk shows – Industry legends & Contemporary Filmmakers hold the dais to mesmerize the delegates with their talks, advises & experiences