ADDRESS AT THE NATIONAL FILM AWARDS FUNCTION
29-12-2003 : Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi
For a peaceful, prosperous and safe India
I am indeed delighted to participate in this National Film Awards function. I congratulate all the award winners, artists, technicians and all those associated with films, for their excellent performance in various facets of entertainment industry. I particularly congratulate our evergreen superstar of Indian Cinema Mr. Dev Anand for winning the coveted Dada Saheb Phalke Award for the year 2003. I have not watched any cinema or TV films for last four decades; and therefore I do not have first hand knowledge of your performance excellence. The competent eminent jurists have selected you for these prestigious awards amidst intense competition. I congratulate all the beautiful minds in this beautiful environment.
Status of Indian film industry
Over the years, I understand that the Indian film industry is maturing. We are making quality films in number of languages. Every one of you is dreaming for an Oscar award. I am sure with your creativity, innovation and perseverance you will be able to achieve your dream very soon, if you add information technology to entertainment, transforming into infotainment. I have heard about certain Malayalam and Assamesse films that they have lots of originality in stories, dialogue, character portrayal, photography and presentation. We have to promote such quality films in many other languages, which can touch the hearts of the people.
The entertainment business is a national wealth generator. It is important to generate wealth towards the prosperity of the nation. Also one of the key characteristics of entertainment business is that it can influence the young minds substantially. For example, I understand that when famous actors of yesteryears such as MGR, NT Ramarao, Shivaji Ganesan, Raj Kapoor, Rajkumar, Nageswararao, Kannamba, Mena Kumari and Nargis, acted in certain films, they left an ever lasting impression on the minds of the viewers and carried the images of original epic personalities and freedom fighters in their actions. Moreover, they have spread the message of peace, patriotism, discipline, commitment to work and strong desire to defeat the defeatist tendencies with indomitable spirit, through their films and songs and some of them even practiced in their real lives, what they preached in 'reel' life.
Impact of films on human psyche
I see in front of me a galaxy of personalities who have touched the hearts of millions of people through their unique talents. There are directors, story writers, script writers, lyricists, music directors, musicians, singers, actors, actresses who silently work in studios which together depict "Navarasas" of the human feelings. Also there are camera men, audio recorders, other technicians and editors who play a vital role in creation and presentation of the films for appreciation of the audience. You have the ability to create and project a dreamworld to the people. Above all, you have the ability to touch the psyche of the individuals which makes the viewers forget for a while their present state and problems, and virtually live in a simulated environment. In our every day life, there is happiness, sometimes sorrow. For some people sorrow overtakes them. I have seen in my young age and also even now, very good films depicted by heroes, heroines and comedians with melodious songs make people to forget their sorrow. Some times they provide inspiration and even courage to face the challenges of life.
Contribution of Poets in India's first vision
Way back in 1941, when I was 10 years old, I had heard a beautiful song sung by village folks among themselves. Even we school boys used to sing it together amongst ourselves. Today I would like to share with you that song, which goes like this:
That means, let us sing, let us dance that we have achieved our freedom, a hard earned freedom. It is time now that we "Build our nation". This had become the patriotic song, which ignited the minds of many young people to participate in the freedom. On the day we got the freedom, this was the song, which engulfed the whole south India with happiness. Similarly there were many poets who sang patriotic songs in many languages and inspired the people to work for our independence.
Second vision for the nation
You may ask me, what is the relevance of this song in today's context? We have all heard about the first vision of the nation "Independence Movement" which commenced in the year 1857. Many of our freedom fighters from the various professions such as lawyers, educators, poets, academicians, industrialists and film personalities, all participated in the freedom movement. It was a long drawn struggle. We got the freedom and India became independent in the year 1947. As you are aware, India has a vision of transforming itself into a developed nation by the year 2020. We have a population of over one billion people, of which 260 million are still living below the poverty line. They need education, they need habitat, they need health care and they need employment. To meet their needs we need the second vision for the nation.
Our GDP is growing at an average rate of 5% per annum whereas the economists suggest that to remove the poverty of 260 million people we have to grow at the rate of 10% per annum, consistently for over a decade. How do we encounter this situation? What role our film industry can play in the second vision of national development? Let us see the proposed integrated mega missions such as 5000 PURAs (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) out of 25000 PURAs, interlinking of rivers, Power mission, Agriculture, Agro-Food processing, Tourism, Healthcare, Infrastructure development, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Mass Transportation system and Critical Technologies. Youth with knowledge, skill and passion are required for undertaking and completing these tasks in time. How can the film industry contribute and motivate the young to embark on these missions?
Film industry and national development
Each one of your movies can celebrate the success of our innovative developmental schemes in agriculture, education, healthcare, infrastructure and the dedicated work of our youngsters, so that it can reach the billion people and they will become partners in the development. If you visualize and create innovative presentation, I am sure you can eradicate social evils such as dowry, superstitious acts, corruption, crime against women, discrimination of HIV patients etc., through beautiful comedy scenes, powerful songs and story linked situations. You can introduce these concepts in every film for a few minutes linked to the main theme, which could act as a spice for the film, and the generator of a big movement for the nation. Presently some of you are doing it, what we need is a concerted big movement to create a vibrant atmosphere for the nation to move towards the path of development. This will be the greatest service for which the entire nation will remember you in the coming decades.
Friends, what a beautiful scene I am seeing in front of me; young and experienced directors, story designers, script writers, poets, song designers, musicians, singers, actors and actresses and many supporting successful artists. Bharatiar gave the country a poem in 1910 - well before we achieved the freedom in 1947. Now I have one request to all of you. This request is not for me, it is for our nation. Can you direct, can you sing, can you dance, can you act, celebrating the mission of developed India what we are aiming for in 2020, for a few minutes in every film. This is in the hands of producers and directors. This act of yours can accelerate the mission of Developed India. It will really be a collective mission of the Indian cinema industry. Your contribution in this movement will be more than an Oscar for the country. I wish you success in your missions.