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"Bollywood is not real cinema": Gopalakrishnan and Indian Cinema

University of Wiscosnin-Milwaukee

The Peck School of the Arts at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee just established a new film archive and research fund for their nationally-known film department.

They chose Indian film writer, producer, and director Adoor Gopalakrishnan as their namesake. By making him their namesake, it will draw more attention to Indian cinema.

“Indian cinema is not very known in the United States,” says Gopalakrishnan, “Unfortunately, what is more known about Indian cinema is this so-called Bollywood, which is not real cinema. It does not represent culture, it doesn’t represent India at all.”

Gopalakrishnan strongly emphasized that he does not make Bollywood films. He instead takes part of serious Indian cinema. Cinema has matured and developed over the past century as an art form.

“Unfortunately, people think that cinema has to be meaningless, has to be superficial…the wrong way of looking at cinema,” says Gopalakrishnan, “It has developed as an art form very well.”

Gopalakrishnan has a theater background that is carried over to how he makes films. He is trying to mesh two traditions into one: from the cinema tradition, he wants to entertain everybody, but from the theater tradition, he wants the audience to see his films on his terms. Overall, he wants the audience to be aware of themselves.

“Not asking them to turn their face away from their realities,” says Gopalakrishnan, “I beg them to confront it boldly with a resolution. That is what is expected of art, not to forget about it, not to shy away from everything.”

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.