Pranav Ashar and his team at Enlighten Film Society have declared April 13 as World Cinema Day. Ashar, one of the founding members of the organisation and its current president, said that they chose the date because of its proximity to the day the Society held its first screening – April 9, 2008 – at Cinemax in Versova. On the first World Cinema Day, Enlighten plans to launch a card, which will allow members to attend film screenings anywhere in India. Ashar intends to tie up with institutions such as India Habitat Centre (Delhi), Suchitra Film Society (Bengaluru) and Nandan (Kolkata) for this purpose. “The pass is your ticket to world cinema,” said Ashar.
Established by five friends and film buffs, the club began by organising screenings of popular foreign movies such as Bicycle Thieves, independent films as well as Hollywood classics and more recent films. “If Hollywood produces something great, we don’t say, ‘It is a studio product, so we won’t screen it’,” said Ashar. At an Enlighten screening, viewers are encouraged to see such ostensibly similar but actually disparate films as Ray and I’m Not There. In February, Enlighten and Walt Disney will present an animation festival, which will include Pixar greats such as Wall-e, Up! and Toy Story 3.
Almost three years since its inception, the organisation has expanded its interests and now owns a DVD label, runs a website (dearcinema.com) and occasionally distributes movies. Currently, it has over 8,000 members, a sponsor and a presence in at least four cities apart from Mumbai. Enlighten’s membership base includes doctors, engineers, chartered accountants and even housewives, Ashar said. One reason for Enlighten’s popularity is that it doesn’t host screenings at small theatres but rents a big screen at CinemaxVersova and Metro Adlbabs every Sunday. “You can’t replace a shared, real experience with anything,” said Ashar comparing watching a movie in a theatre to one at home on DVD or on TV. “It doesn’t make for a great viewing.”
Ashar claims that he wants to make the Enlighten Film Society India’s Criterion (the renowned DVD label). The organisation has acquired the DVD rights for movies such as The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, the video catalogue of Palador and recently tied up with Lumiere to release La Dolce Vita and 8 ½.
By Suhani Singh on January 21 2010 6.29pm