Heroism Of Freedom Fighters Keeps 'Awam Ka Cinema' Rejuvenated: Shah Alam
Awam Ka Cinema, which is going to hold its 10th Film Festival In Ayodhya, has extracted facts about freedom fighters from history and reflected them on the silver screen.
'Awam Ka Cinema', which is going to hold its 10th Film Festival In Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, has extracted facts about freedom fighters from history and reflected them on the silver screen. It vocalises the struggle of unsung heroes of the freedom struggle. It began in remembrance of the sacrifices of Shaheed Ashfaqullah Khan and Ram Prasad Bismil. Since then, it has observed many films festival with peoples’ contribution and participation.
It has struggled a lot for survival, but never lost hopes. It carries forward its mission tirelessly with its tagline "The Peoples’ Cinema". Shah Alam, who is a social activist, and the one behind this initiative, has always nurtured ‘Awam Ka Cinema’ with his avant-garde thoughts. Here are the excerpts from a candid conversation between Shah Alam and Balwant Tripathi.
How did 'Awam Ka Cinema' came into being?
The common heritage of twin cities of Ayodhya-Faizabad is behind this. In 2004, Ashok Jatin, a small screen producer-director had come to film a documentary ' Shaktipunj'. At that time I was final year student of Master Of Social Work (MSW). I joined the research team of Shaktipunj and began helping them. I decided to form the society during my association with them. Finally, Ayodhya Film Society came into existence on January 28, 2006. We released our first video song 'Virasat' promoting and encouraging communal harmony while adopting 'Awam Ka Cinema' as a pivotal theme of our film society. Ravindra Mishra, Magsaysay laureate Sandeep Pandey, noted social activist Medha Patkar, and MP Ali Anwar joined the release of the song.
What are the mission and vision of 'Awam Ka Cinema'?
Cinema is a powerful tool to interact with and educate the society. It has the strength to raise mass questions. It impacts the masses and gives the society new directions. The relation between cinema and democracy is very deep as it has the strength to influence the audience. It can encourage and promote unity in diversity. It can help us to understand the world. A cinema focussing on social issues can lead change in the society.
Share with us your experiences, problems, complications, and people who were/are with you?
The first film festival of Ayodhya Film Society ended in a fiasco and chaos on December 20, 2007. Now, the festival has already being given a new direction. My companions wouldn't believe that such a big movement could be erected in Ayodhya. Dr. RB Ram, Mohd. Tufail, Ashok Srivastava, Afaque, Abhishek Mishra and others accompanied me and stood by me at every step. The then UGC Chairman Sukhadeo Thorat and famous filmmaker Anand Patwardhan encouraged us to elevate 'Awam Ka Cinema' as a powerful parallel medium. We constituted an 11 member committee to strengthen and widen the spread of Awam Ka Cinema.'
Places where you have screened the film festival of 'Awam Ka CinemaCareer'?
"Awam Ka Cinema" conveys the heritage of freedom struggle to the new generation. It has passionately been engaged in saving the legacy of Indian revolutionary movements since 2006. Ayodhya, Faizabad, Mau, Auraiya, Deoria, Gorakhpur, Kanpur, Gonda, Etawah, Bijnor, Delhi, Kargil, Jaipur, Jammu, Wardha, Azamgarh, and Varanasi have been witnessing the grand occasions of ‘Awam Ka Cinema’. It organises seminars, dramas, singing, magic-shows, art, puppetry, folk music, folk dance, films, photo- exhibitions, poetry, poster and cartoon exhibition as well as it demonstrates revolutionaries' prison diaries, letters, and telegrams. It tries to erect a better society.
What has it produced so far?
Till now we have produced a video song 'Virasat' and two documentaries including Rising From The Ashes, and Who Is Tapsee.
The famous personalities who joined your caravan?
Filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, Justice Rajinder Sachar, Kiranjeet Singh, Ram Krishna Khatri, Anwar Jamal, Rajesh Jala, Amar Kanval, and Umesh Agrawal are actively associated with 'Awam Ka Cinema'. Anusha Rizvi, Prof. B Diwakar, Acharya Satyendra Das, Subhash Chandra Kushwaha, Prof. Lalbahadur Verma, Mateen Ahmad and Jharna Jhaveri provide their services to the film society when we organise programmes and film festivals.
Which movies and documentaries have been screened in your film festivals so far?
War And Peaces, The Face, Ek Minute Ka Maun , Black Pamphlets, Vikas Ki Bandook Ki Naal Se (Development From The Barrel Of The Gun), Jahazi Music, 1857 Jung-e-Azadi, Sagun, Still Life, Gaon Chodab Nahi, Lanchhan, Ribbon For Peace, Hip Hip Hurray, Khadda, Khanabadosh, Floating Lamp Of Shadow Valley, Bhookh Hartaal, The Man Who Moved The Mountain, Inquilaab, My Body My Weapon, Harvest Of Grief, Kudaal, Unity In Diversity, Mombatti, Koshi Katha, Swarajya, Three Bullets For Gandhi, Annadata, Dr. Ambedkar, Ek Udaan, Little Terrorist, Hand Over, Children Of Heaven, Ram Ke Naam, Charandas Chor, India Untouched, Garm Hava, Bawandar, Dharti Ke Lal, Begum Akhtar, Satah Se Uthata Aadmi, Zameer Ke Bandi, Freedom, Pani Pe Likha, Indradhanush Udaas Hai, and I Am Nirbhaya
What was your overall experience when you organised the film festival for the very first time in a place like Ayodhya which is very-very communally sensitive and has been in the news internationally because of the dispute?
With the lighting of the traditional lamp 10 years ago, we constituted film society with 'Awam Ka Cinema' as a pivotal theme. Amid the environment that was dangerous and sensitive, few of the lesser-known people joined us. We began to receive success with the gradual increase in peoples’ participation. We stretched our dreams from the desert of Rajasthan to the conflict zone of Kargil. We suffered repeated attacks but didn't give up. Now, we are going to organize our 10th film festival in Ayodhya.
People from which particular classes form part of your audience?
People from every class, creed, and religion enthusiastically join our programmes. Students, farmers, and labourers alike attend our programmes and provide their services too.
Did you feel like there is no scope further, or that your experiment will not succeed?
Awam Ka Cinema doesn't have any established office and no budget resources to sustain, but it has people with it. The powers of devotion and determination never let it go down. Sometimes we do lose all our hopes, give up dreams that we live for but it is only normal when we don't achieve our dream goals often enough as it is human nature.
But, we didn't think of giving up our dream despite facing many hardships. We recollect the sacrifices made by our great freedom fighters whenever we were in a state of despair. Struggle and will power of the unsung heroes of the freedom movement rejuvenate us completely.