The Leading Ladies
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With film bazaars, speciality theatres and a film conservation project, Leela Samson and Nina Lath Gupta are infusing life into CBFC and NFDC
Leela Samson has heard it all. From the streets of India to the hallowed halls of the Parliament, her office is loosely referred to as the Censor Board. "We are the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), please, and we believe in freedom of expression, so can we stop labelling it as the monstrous Censor Board," pleads Samson, the Board's chairperson, who has been on a path of reformation ever since she took charge of the "dry side of cinema".
At Kurukshetra University to speak at the Media International Film Festival (MIFF) held last week, Samson was joined by another lady on a mission — Nina Lath Gupta, the managing director of National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC). For the uninitiated, Gupta completed her higher studies from Chandigarh. An Indian Revenue Services officer, she is bringing NFDC back to life. It's a slow process, agrees Gupta, but they are pulling all their strength. What was once the backbone of critically acclaimed films, was reduced to a non-entity due to lack of vision and leadership. But Gupta is out to change the image of NFDC by focusing on regional and rural talent and films, by setting up film training facilities, screenwriter labs, sub-titling plants, film clubs and speciality theatres with low ticketing and alternate cinema. With award-winning films in its kitty this year, including Gurvinder Singh's Anhey Ghodey da Daan and Onir's I Am to list a few, Gupta says that NFDC has 11 films in the pipeline, one of them in the Jharkhand dialect which has been directed by Vikas Mishra and co-produced by Sanjay Suri. Now that NFDC only produces, its aim is to provide a skill set and open international markets for the films along with television releases. Another ambitious project is the National Film Heritage Mission in order to conserve movies of the past 100 years of Indian cinema. Besides, a digital heritage lab is also in the pipeline.
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