Role of NFDC in Development of Indian Cinema
National Film Development Corporation of India, better known, as NFDC is an institution launched with an intention to create and motivate quality Indian cinema. Initially, it was named Film Finance corporation i.e. FFC but later it got its makeover as NFDC after incorporation of IMPEC viz. Indian Motion Picture Export Corporation. Till date, NFDC has been working under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India with its office located in Mumbai.
In the period of 1960, after the Patil committee report came out, the government of India felt the need to promote films, music and dance. Following this, three premier institutions came into picture namely, the Film Finance Corporation in 1960, the Film & Television Institute in 1961 and the National Film Archive in 1964. Also, National Film Awards for honoring exceptional talent in cinema were launched in 1954 that applaud not only film directors and producers but also actors, writers, technicians and music directors.
NFDC’s foremost objective is to promote deserving talent and nurture excellence in Indian cinema. And proving true to its name, National Film Development Corporation of India has always stepped forward for film development programs. NFDC has immensely contributed towards the growth of Indian films, particularly parallel cinema.
Since its establishment, NFDC has supported and financed over 300 films in more than 20 Indian languages such as Jaane bhi do Yaaron, Massey Sahib, Making of Mahatma, Salam Bombay, Mirch Masala, Rudaali and Train to Pakistan. Most of these films went on to receive national recognition as well as international awards. It was NFDC’s co-produced film Gandhi that got eight Oscars in the year 1983.
The vision of this organization is very dynamic since cinemas need change in every era. Hence, it’s become the duty of this film development body to take into account the ever-changing dimensions of Indian cinema. For example, with modernization, the people and their stories also evolve and that’s where NFDC must step in to support evolving ideas that may not be commercially viable.
Soon after its inception, FFC took charge of so called “non-commercial” cinema. Amongst many others, one of the early filmmakers who got benefitted from this agency was Mrinal Sen. Through his first film titled Bhuvan Shome released in 1969, Mrinal introduced a new kind of Indian cinema. Following him was Mani Kaul who directed a film called Uski Roti in 1971 with collaboration of FFC, just after graduating from Film Institute of India.
Though Film Finance Corporation immediately got recognition with its films winning all sorts of awards yet the major problem turned out to be the distribution outlet for this kind of cinema. During that time, the distribution system and big cinema halls were in control of private companies and exhibitors. There was no platform to showcase art films hence FFC-produced films were screened only at the Indian Panorama section of the annual International Film Festival of India. Later on, few private screenings and telecast on national television i.e. Doordarshan also happened but still the money ventured into these films didn’t recover.
However, the scenario changed in 1980 when assimilation of IMPEC fetched income from foreign distributors, international coproduction, video cassette marketing, subtitling and renting equipments. Soon after NFDC got huge capital investment from Government, it invested further for the film development. The agency has nourished some of the major areas of Indian film scene such as restoration, production, marketing, and script development that were completely neglected by commercial film industry. Since then, if there’s one entity that has been the backbone of independent parallel cinema and art house films, it’s National Film Development Corporation of India.
In the early 1970s and 1980s, the series of directors that got huge support from NFDC were mostly pass outs of FTII. Their major learning in filmmaking was influenced from the films they saw at the National Film Archive and the exclusive International Film Festival of India. Though later on after 1990s, other glorious film festivals also began to flourish in major Indian cities funded by none other than the NFDC.
Over the years, NFDC has enriched and brought forward many brilliant filmmakers from all over the country. While on one side there were talents like Mani Kaul, Kumar Shahani, Saeed Mirza, Ketan Mehta, Kundan Shah, Govind Nihalani and Sudhir Mishra from Bombay, then on the other side, we had Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shaji Karun from Kerala and Nirad Mahapatra from Orissa who made extraordinary films in their individual languages. It were indigenous filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, Mira Nair, Aparna Sen and Shyam Benegal who took Indian cinema to international platform only after getting support from NFDC.
Besides directors, a trained breed of new actors like Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Amol Palekar and Pankaj Kapur availed the chance to work in the NFDC-Supported films. NFDC not only arranged finance for new-thinking filmmakers but also instilled a confidence in them to practice modern ideas and themes. The day NFDC got established, the art filmmakers who were in search of financiers heaved a great sigh of relief. Directors came out with their out of box thinking and NFDC tried its best to shape their dreams.
It is believed that if it were not for NFDC, probably the films like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, Anhey Ghore Da Daan and the recent one Gangoobai and The Lunch Box would never have been released. All those great ideas would have been dumped instead of acquiring cult status that they did, if NFDC had not taken any initiative. Films supported by a government body like NFDC not only gets national telecast but holds better chances of approval for shooting locations. For example, JBDY got permission to shoot at places like under-construction buildings, Borivali National Park, Marine Lines Railway station and other locations that would have been extremely difficult to get otherwise.
Lately, Indian cinema has experienced a new wave of contemporary films as a result the term Parallel Cinema has been replaced by a more trendy name called independent cinema. Since Indie films are now going all over the places, the role of NFDC has become tougher than ever. Though, NFDC has been trying to support as many filmmakers as it can but still its contribution seems to be meager when compared to other big production houses in India. And that is the reason why remarkable filmmaker Shyam Benegal approached a production company like UTV Motion Pictures for the financing and distribution of his Hindi film Welcome to Sajjanpur.
With changing times, it has become extra crucial for central agencies like NFDC to strengthen their position and facilitate the distribution of more-thoughtful independent cinema. Moreover, Doordarshan can help as a catalyst in providing rightful due to the modern artistic films, as it has done in the past. Once, Doordarshan starts showcasing Indie movies again, it will reach a wider set of audience.
NFDC has been trying to back independent filmmaking community by financing new talent, organizing script-development workshops as well as other creative programs. It’s turning into an organization that is exploring new grounds through projects entailing public-private partnerships. Every year, NFDC organizes a co-production and distribution market named Film Bazaar, specifically for South Asian region. This year, NFDC’s film market completes its 7th edition in Goa at the International Film Festival of India.
In 2011, NFDC introduced a new campaign called Cinemas of India that aims to provide broader platform for Indian films at both national and international level. Via this platform, many emerging filmmakers are showcasing their films abroad in major film festivals. NFDC has been continuously endorsing commendable regional and art house cinema to the global audience crossing barriers of geographical, social & cross-cultural norms. Whether its Toronto International Film Festival in Canada or 66th Cannes Awards, Indian Cinema has shown tremendous performance and growth.
NFDC has definitely been a huge platform for small-budget films to reach out a larger audience. One can never deny the role of NFDC in the globalization of Indian cinema.