Cannes documentary on Bollywood raises eyebrows

MUMBAI: The documentary Bollywood The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, which has been put together for the Cannes Film Festival this month by UTV, Shekhar Kapoor and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, has raised eyebrows in Mumbai’s film fraternity for the use of term Bollywood, which many including Amitabh Bachchan find derogatory.

While Ronnie Screwvala of UTV chose not to comment, a leading filmmaker said on condition of anonymity, "Everyone from Mr Bachchan to Salman Khan thinks it is derogatory to call our film industry Bollywood. And still now we have an official documentary on Hindi cinema going out to Cannes with the term Bollywood attached to it."

Ironically, Bachchan has contributed to this 80-minute documentary with some lucid comments on the evolution of Hindi cinema as we and the world know and love it.

When questioned about the term Bollywood in the title of the film, Shekhar Kapoor says, "In the years to come people will believe the word Hollywood was derived from Bollywood. The origins of brand names are transcended by a product."

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, who has co-directed the documentary chose not to comment on the word. "I’d rather not get into that. All I’d say is the term Bollywood has come to mean our cinema to Westerners. We’ve taken what they think of our cinema and turned it into observations on what we think of cinema and what impact movies have on our social life."

Mehra was close to finding his Milkha Singh for the bio-pic on the sprinter when he was whisked away by Shekhar Kapoor and UTV’s Ronnie Screwvala to work on a documentary on Bollywood for Cannes.

The documentary has taken Mehra away from the long process of auditioning for the film. But now Mehra goes back to the process of finding his Milkha Singh.

Mehra informs, "We’re now in the last lap of auditioning. We’re looking at contestants in Punjab now. Hopefully we’ll crack the casting in the next few weeks after I return from Cannes. All I’ll says is, Milkha can’t be played by a known face."

Mehra doesn’t regret the delay in finding Milkha Singh. "Putting together this documentary on Hindi cinema has been an enriching experience beyond words. When Shekhar Kapoor and Jeff Zimblast and I got together we didn’t know what we were getting into or how to go about encapsulating the Hindi movie experience. We don’t know how much of the Bollywood spirit we’ve captured. But it has been an exhilarating experience. I’ve come away much richer. In the documentary we’ve tried to connect the history of Hindi cinema to social developments. It isn’t a representation of Bollywood. It’s an interpretation. In the documentary, Mr Bachchan has spoken so beautifully on our cinema."

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