First weekend phenomena affecting Marathi films

Mumbai Films either hit or miss the jackpot on the opening weekend these days. The phenomenon is not healthy for Marathi films as they rely upon word of mouth, feels filmmaker Umesh Kulkarni. "Because of the first weekend phenomenon, our films lose out. Our films are run on the basis of word of mouth. So, because we don't have huge budgets for marketing, the opening is not great....So (even) before the word of mouth spreads, the film vanishes from the theatres," Kulkarni told IANS. Known for his Marathi films like "Valu", "Vihir" and "Deool" as well as short films "Girni" and "Three Of Us", Kulkarni is an alumnus of Pune's Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). "Girni", his diploma film, won him an honour at the 52nd National Film Awards. Kulkarni feels Mumbai, the country's entertainment capital, should become the hub of cinema and give equal screen space to movies from all regions and languages. "I am not cribbing. But we feel that Mumbai, being a metro city, has people from all over India; so regional films should have a solid space here. It should become like Paris, where you can see a film of any language. Mumbai can become such a place; then the lines between commercial and non-commercial cinema will blur," he said. Having said that, the filmmaker also feels the audience is becoming more receptive to non-Bollywood movies. "The process has started and people are interested to watch films that are not commercial. All the other films are not getting screen space, but they still have to compete with big budget films. The voice is weak, but there is some space, which is positive," he said. Kulkarni is the jury president of "Dimensions Mumbai" category at the ongoing 14th Mumbai Film Festival, organised by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI). Several short films by budding filmmakers competed in the category. The energy in the competing movies surprised the jury, but not the content. "The quality of the films was not very great, which was a little surprising. We were expecting a little more content as short films have a lot of potential to experiment with, and it changes your perspective of looking at things," he said. The short films were about Mumbai. "In that sense it was not great, but we did find two to three (worthy) films. The essence of Mumbai as a city is difficult to capture, but it can be captured artistically. I was looking to capture an abstract image which didn't come across," he added. One of his own films "Pune 52" will be screened at the fest Wednesday.