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No Fear No Favour

‘Shaktimaan’, Mukesh Khanna, resigns from the post of Children’s Film Society Chief

‘Shaktimaan’ is angry with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, because it isn’t releasing sufficient funds to help him make and promote films for children.

Veteran actor Mukesh Khanna, who played the desi superhero on television, was appointed the chairperson of the Children’s Film Society of India in 2015 but has quit just months before his term ends. He says he has no wish to continue because of the complete “lack of support and interest” shown by the ministry for children’s films.

Khanna told ThePrint that he demanded funds from the ministry to ensure that good children films were made for theatrical release, instead of a limited audience at film festivals. However, the ministry did not respond, and he sent in his resignation “under protest”. Khanna’s term was due to end in April 2018.

“I am passionate about the work I do. All I wanted was to give good content to children that are also commercially viable and is for a larger audience. But with such a shortage of funds, how will the good projects be promoted?” Khanna asked.

Not serving its purpose:

The CFSI was started in 1955, aimed at promoting films that provide “healthy and wholesome entertainment for children”, to broaden their perspective and encourage them to reflect on the world around. However, most films made by the division are showcased only at film festivals.

“Till now, the majority of children’s films made by the division are not even watched by children; they are only shown at festivals. So what is the point of this division? Today, children watch substandard daily soaps on television, why should not we give them good content?” Khanna asked.

“To get children to watch good content was my aim, but with so many restrictions and lack of enthusiasm by the ministry, I am unable to achieve that. I feel it is better to step down,” he added.

For the last two years, several films have been stuck in the pipeline. There are 12 ‘approved’ projects for which the directors are not being given money to start production, while eight films are complete and awaiting release.

“Seven films are based on sports, which include the first film in India on tennis. One is on hockey, the others on basketball, rugby. Many of them are ready, awaiting release, but are not being promoted. These are all very relevant subjects,” Khanna said.

Among the projects in the pipeline are films by well-known Hindi film personalities Pankaj Parashar and Satish Kaushik.

“The ministry expects us to get several films made on a limited budget of Rs 10 crore, but those films are not of the quality that can be released in theatres. One can get films made solely for the purpose of showing them at festivals, but that defeats the purpose of why this division was created. I can get 10 films made in Rs 10 Crore, but they will not be up to the mark, as a good film requires a capital of at least Rs 2 crore,” Khanna added.

Khanna is even said to have met finance minister Arun Jaitley and Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu when they were handling the I&B portfolio to discuss the issue, but it was not resolved.

This report was originally published in ThePrint.in

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