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'Hrishida was highly supportive of good cinema'
R G Vijayasarathy | August 29, 2006 17:03 IST
When Hrishikesh Mukherjee passed away last Sunday, it wasn't just the Hindi film industry that felt the huge loss. The Kannada industry also mourned as many here have, at some time or the other, worked with him.
Hrishida once worked as an editor of a Kannada film called Anuroopa, starring Anant Nag and Arati, and directed by the late P Lankesh.
National Award-winning director Girish Kasaravalli remembers the time when Nagabharana and he were on the jury, chaired by Hrishida. Apparently, Hrishida had fought for a good Bengali film (Kasaravalli does not want to reveal the name of the director or the film) and saw to it that the film won an award. According to Kasaravalli, the film was liked by all jury members, but it couldn't be slotted in the Best Film category. "We were sorry that such a good film was losing out, but then Hrishida came up with an idea to reward it by slotting it in the Best Film in the Family Welfare category. He argued that the jury could interpret the film in this way, as the story revolved around a family. The film did get an award."
Kasaravalli goes on to say that Hrishida was always committed to quality cinema and didn't hesitate to back good projects. "I remember another incident when he was Chairman of the Censor Board," he says. "He okayed certain parts of Aparna Sen's 36, Chowringee Lane that were found provocative by the Regional Censor Board. When someone questioned this, Hrishida replied by saying he knew how to differentiate between a work of art and titillation. He was highly supportive of good cinema."
Nagabharana describes Hrishida as a knowledgeable filmmaker. "Working with him as a jury member was like being with an encyclopaedia. He would talk about the finer points of cinema deeply. He was not under pressure from any quarter and all his discussions with us were transparent. He allowed opinions to flow freely."
Young filmmaker Kavitha Lankesh (daughter of P Lankesh) won her first National Award for her debut film Deveeri. It was in the same year that Hrishida won the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award. Kavitha remembers her brief interaction with him at Rashtrapathi Bhavan after the distribution ceremony. "He talked about my father and his association with my father's film Anuroopa," she says.
In these memories, then, the great director lives on.