For someone who has been part of the film industry for over five decades, Shyam Benegal has seen it all — the ups and downs, and witnessed all the changes the industry has gone through. However, these recent controversies, especially the Bollywood drug nexus debate, is something that astounds the veteran filmmaker.
“There’s as much good or bad in the film industry as it is in India. Why is everybody pinpointing the film industry as though it is some kind of den of vice. It does not make any sense to me. Everyone is making so much of something this does not deserve to have so much news print and TV time that is being used up on this,” shares Benegal.
The 85-year-old filmmaker, who has helmed films such as Ankur (1974), Junoon (1979), Mandi (1983), Zubeidaa (2001), Welcome to Sajjanpur (2008) somewhat does not get the vilification narrative that is being shared by many in the current scenario.
“I can’t see the vice and virtue part really. Don’t expect the film industry to become some kind of paragons of virtue. That would be rather silly. It is not an ashram in the Himalayas. It is part of life and it is part of our everyday existence where you have good bad and all sorts of things. It is how life is. Film industry is a representation of that,” he explains.
He points out that probably the problem lies in the fact that Bollywood stars have always been given a certain image and that is clashing right now with what’s happening.
“Show business is such that in order to sell tickets in order to sell business individuals lives get exaggerated beyond a certain point. Everybody is made to look larger than life because otherwise may be audiences will not show any interest in them,” he shares.
The filmmaker also notes that the film industry will come out of this and the audience will decide whether to watch a film or not purely on the basis of talent.
“An actor is known for the quality of the work that they bring. That’s why they are known. I don’t go to see a film because some person is created a huge scandal. I am going to see because I am going to see quality performance,” he concludes.