Mr. Kamlesh Pandey
Creative Consultant - Programming, Head-Script Writer and Filmographer
Thank you for the kind words and good afternoon. Let me first begin with a very strong protest against the use of the word Bollywood. I mean literally I hate it, to describe Indian films especially Hindi films as bollywood I think is a great insult to our I think it is the same habitual sickening ---complex of Indians we normally use to define everything in western and for westernized. Why should we always measure ourselves by the standards set by the west, why do we need to use their skill in the first place? As I love to remind that when the western civilization was roaming the woods in animal skins and hunting for food we were measuring the distance between the earth and the sun. Inventing the zero, establishing the value of ---, discovering the principles of gravity in atomic theory, developing the signs of healing through ayurveda and writing the Upanishads, the Vedas, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the oldest most exhaustive treaties on politics, economics, sets and theatre. What are we ashamed about and apologetic about? So I strongly protest if the word Bollywood is used to describe our cinema, call us Indian cinema, call us Hindi films, call us even Mumbai masala if you want to, I don’t mind but bollywood please. If you have to take your brand internationally first change your attitudes. There is a lot of difference between Hollywood and our cinema or our corporate culture or entertainment. Let me sort of briefly share my observation with you. America is perhaps one of the youngest countries in the world and hence it is not surprising that young people all over the world are drawn to America automatically, it is natural. It speaks the language of young people and the attitude and the arrogance. We see that, we see the arrogance in the American military power. It is just about 300 years old, not much of history and no methodology to speak of. That’s why America has always been spiritually under nourished; it has no ----nourishment from. Hollywood had to supplement it by creating mysteries larger than life wasters. John Wayne, Gary cooper, -----, they were the icons. Hollywood had to try very hard to composite the lack of root, lack of soul, lack of nourishment. Hollywood tried to fill the absence of methodology through its science fiction films and even in science fiction films Hollywood is obliged to borrow from myth rich Asian countries especially India. Indian mythology finds discernable reference like the star wars, face off, matrix. If you have seen these films you will know what I am talking about. Film makers like Lucas and Spielberg have acknowledged the influence of the legendary American mythologist Joseph Campbell in their work who drew extensively form Indian mythology for the theory of the hero’s journey, specifically referred to the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and Krishna and Hanuman again and again. And if you see star wars very closely then they are all there, there is Ram, Harrison Ford, there is Lakshman, Lucas skywalker, there is Rebecca which is Hanuman, there is ---which is Ravan. In matrix for example it is exactly the Indian philosophy of illusion, the maya; the world is a virtual reality. In India we have a beautiful word for Leela and I am just trying to explain how we understand entertainment or corporate culture. In India we have a beautiful word for Leela if loosely translated means a play but leela means more than just a play. It means a person is not a ---but an actor acting out a role scripted by life. There is a big difference the way Hollywood looks at entertainment and the way we look at entertainment. Extending it to cinema it would as well mean that God is a cinema screen on which the word is projected as film. It is all a conspiracy of light, celluloid and lens. It is not real but an illusion. The characters in this story unfolding are not doers but actors including Ram and Krishna. It is all a leela and it keeps happening again and again. Internationally they are surprised, why again the same drama, every year we have a ram leela, why the same play again and again. In Hollywood they don’t do that. They don’t make the same film every year after year and so on and so forth. Why do we keep doing the leela again and again and again it has to be enjoyed and not analysed, that is the psychological thing between Indian entertainment and Hollywood entertainment. We believe in enjoying it and not analyzing it through bits and pieces. In fact one of the Hindu stories behind the incarnation of Vishnu is that they all represent the nine rasas because God himself takes various forms to entertain his devotees, even god is an entertainer. Long before Shakespeare defined the world as a stage an Indian scripture said - the entire world is a play for the divine. So in India entertainment and enlightenment go hand in hand. We have given entertainment such respect and reverence, it’s not funny. That is the key difference between Hollywood and Hindi cinema. The birth of popular entertainment in India can be traced to the birth of spirituality. The scripture says that after the 4 Vedas were created Brahma wondered about the need of the common man who was not literate enough to understand the Vedas. So he ordered Bharat muni to write something which not only entertain the masses but also gave them values, ideas, insights and spiritual wisdom to live by and Bharat muni wrote natya shastra, the most exhaustive treaties on the art of story telling, theatre and dramatic. Our Brahma was so pleased with Bharat muni’s work that he blessed him. I think you may be hearing it for the first time from me. The shloka goes like this, very interesting, bharti minaste shyam prakyato bhratavaya yadidam bharate varne shubkarprakaram. Meaning is form now on this country aryawar will be known as Bharatvarsh on the name of Bharat muni. Bharatvarsh literally means the country where great theatre and entertainers live so Bharat actually means the country of entertainers. We are all entertainers in our own way and Bharat also means in search of light. This again is something very interesting. Bha is light, we all know that, Bhaskar, Prabhakar etc Hindi. Rath means in search of. Bharat means in search of light. So in India entertainment and enlightenment became two sides of the same coin now which countries name can claim to have this unique combination. Britain, America, Germany, France. With spirituality at its core, India became a country of great story tellers from all our oldest Vedas, Puranas to Katha sarithas, panchatantra, folk tales and million other sources India has the richest source of stories from our folk theatre which has taken the culture of entertainment to our cinema. Entertainment India has always had its spiritual core and this is the major difference between Hollywood and Indian cinema. For Hollywood entertainment has remained amusement and more or less to believe that entertainment is life, even cheap entertainment and that is why one finds so much of Hollywood entertainment superficial, just pure popcorn. For India life is a Leela, from our folk theatres to our movies, every form of entertainment is an effort to get trust with our roots, our ancient consciousness, and ancient wisdom of sages. A theatre for us is not merely a place to pass two hours but a kind of group therapy. My friend Sudhir Kakar who is around I saw him there, he has some wonderful insights into this theory. A gym where we exercise our emotions to the fullest and go back home richer, better, healthier and wiser and I am not talking about films like Garam Masala, Neil and Niki and Shaadi no 1. They are aberrations and they are not the tradition. Hollywood has the body but we have the soul and the body is now slowly but certainly drawn to the soul because it has been missing it for a long time. We on the other hand are now waking up to the fact that the body is too important. It is important to dress up our films well, package them well to get them reach an audience which is becoming more and more demanding every day as it gets exposed to the best executed entertainment from Hollywood. So if Indian films particularly Hindi films are taking India to the world, there should be no surprises and if as my friend loves to predict then the next is Spiderman takes off his mask he would be an Indian, it shouldn’t come as a surprise either. India has never invaded any country in the past but now India is taking over the world through its entertainers through stage -----called Bharati consisting of 14 hit Hindi films and the spoken part in Hebrew written by me, funded by Sahara India parivar and produced by an Israeli producer, the people who made ----on the roof. It drew houseful opera house for 6 weeks and ten merits of standing ovation every night in tel aviv. It had its world premier in Paris in October and is now scheduled to go all over the world. In a way Indian entertainers are taking the world by storm. From Bharati the -----to Rajnigandha the ads and my film Rang de Basanti I have tried to take India to the world in my own way, small way. Enough has been said and written about Rang de Basanti so I will limit myself to Rajnigandha here. Rajnigandha has always been the largest selling paan masala in the world but the common perception was different. Because of sheer visibility and enormous ad spent the nearest competitor was perceived to be the leader. Rajnigandha needed an initial that corrected this perception by transcending such claims sometimes descend to, it needed a leap of phase and how did I find that phase from real life. I have been close to some very interesting people, who have not sacrificed their Indianess after their phenomenal global success but actually flaunt it. They are not apologetic about their Indianess and in fact use it to their strength. This pride in Indianess, this confidence, this attitude idiom and body language was completely new. It was a complete reversal of the situation only a decade ago when we had to use the credibility of international affiliations and connections to sell an Indian product. Some friends of mine who are here from advertising they would remember that. Japanese technology and American technology, British technology and so on. A friend of mine who is ---and who started India’s first TV satellite channel which I was heading for a few years still smokes ulta bidi. I know you will know who I am talking about. Even in his international negotiations I think especially during his international negotiations. I have seen him in action when his ---and the world’s most media -----wanted to buy him out, he said of course smoking his ulta bidi India is not for sale and on ----exactly same words he used, India is not for sale. Not only did he hold his media mogul himself 100 times his own size, even thought that infamous ---company to become an NRI in UK. He could have bought any British company but he chose to buy that company because they had ruled India for over 200 years and it was time India ruled them back. Some may have called it a bad investment because East India Company was a loss making company. I call it the pride of a conquering Indian who could never forget that we remained conquered for over 200 years and it was pay back time. This attitude will reflect the sensibility derived from Hindi films but so what, it was. And then there is the story of my friend Shekhar Kapur who was shooting Elizabeth and everything that could go wrong was going wrong. So what does he do, he orders coconuts to be broken everyday before the shoot starts, an old Indian tradition. Call it sheer coincidence or the victory of Indian tradition the shoot went of smoothly after that. so I could see that this was going to be a century of concrete Indians, at least that is what I would like to believe and perhaps every Indian would like to believe and that is what became my concept for Rajnigandha, ----and I used this true stories in my TV commercials. If you remember the TV commercials you will know what I am talking about. There are ---in the TV commercials which you might notice the Indian businessman who eyes the East India Company is reading a Hindi newspaper in Britain riding a limo driven by a British chauffeur, don’t forget the implications on an average Indian. In the second TVC an American businessman is trying to buy out his Indian partner but instead gets himself bought over by the Indian business man who proudly says India is not for sale. I used exactly the same line in my commercial. In a TVC which is a montage of images of the concrete Indians you will see the coconut being broken by an Indian director working with Hollywood stars, a newly wed Indian bride teaching math in MIT with mangalsutra hanging very clearly on her t-shirt, that is the image of new India. Swastika on laptops, mangalsutra on track suits and a ---other images that you might come across everyday in your daily life. In fact when we launch a rocket before that we break a coconut, what could be a better example of victory of Indianess. And at the end of every TV commercials all the winning Indians are very proudly consume Rajnigandha, also share it with foreigners. The very subtle implication was that Rajnigandha could be a decent healthy substitute for chewing gum. So Rajnigandha paan masala winning over chewing gum, that is another way of India taking over the world in a very small way. For many people it took some time to truly get the reference to east India Company because our history has been very weak but once they got it, they admired it. The American businessman trying to buy his Indian partner out but himself being bought over by him was considered too far phased. I got a lot of hate mail for that ad. But recent history has proved that I was not wrong. Maybe before time but not wrong. India ---its soft culture can help change the world’s perception of India, let me give you a few examples of the power of Indian films especially Hindi films. Love marriages were never encouraged in India, never, we all know that. I firmly believe that since the 30-40s Hindi film songs have given this primarily illiterate nation the language of love and given the masses the voice to fall in love and if necessary fight for it. Hindi movies have done it. one mehmood introduced the entire country to the magic of hyderabadi style, one Ganga Jamuna introduced the entire country to the sweetness and spice of Bhojpuri language, one Devdas played by Dilip Kumar romanticized losers in love to such an extent that it made an entire generation of young Indians hit the bottle, it really happened in 57. I was in school those days, I could see that. these are just two examples of the power of Hindi films. Hindi films have been dominated by the Punjabis ever since the partition and the Punjabi film makers form Raj Kapoor to Yash Chopra to ---Chopra, to Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar to name a few have sold the Punjabis dance and rituals, Punjabi dance and music, the Punjabi food, the Punjabi language successfully not only to India but to the world. Today the Punjabi menu is a favorite with US presidents. The Punjabi accent is ----, I as a screen writer obliged to use it frequently to create characters. One recent example is DJ in Rang de Basanti. Similarly Punjabi humour, Punjabi attitude is sold worldwide. I will give a few more examples, karvachauth has never been a Hindi belt tradition, I don’t know how many of you know that. Karvachauth is strictly a Punjabi tradition; it has never been a tradition in Hindi belt. But the Punjabi film producers have made it so popular that it has now become a festival for all women of all communities. Mangalsutra was never a symbol of married women in the Hindi belt, it is a maharashtrian tradition but the Hindi cinema has sold it so well that today it is taken as an Indian ritual, Indian symbol that every married woman must wear a mangalsutra, it was never there before. You see in the films of 40-50 it is not there. Hindi cinema has sold it. Even rituals of marriage which are specific to only Punjabi weddings are now used in weddings of other communities. Today Punjabi idiom and Punjabi bhangra have become so much a part of our life that they are not Punjabi any more, they have become Indian. Not just entertainment today even education count on Hindi film stars to make it a national issue, the recent example you all know of. Aamir Khan for narmada issue. They did a political party or a public service; they can’t do without Hindi films stars. Today most weddings look like movies and movies look like real weddings. Even the wedding pandals are decorated like movie sets, costumes are borrowed from Mr. Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra films and so are the music and the dance. Film choreographers are hired to teach dance step to the bride and the groom and other family members. So see how Hindi films are invading our lives. So if Punjabis can do this for themselves why can’t we do it for India and Indian brands? The background music as well as the costumes and sets of Hollywood blockbusters are echoing India for example gladiator was costumed and its set was fabricated in Hyderabad. Sitar and tabla are now familiar instruments heard in the background music of most Hollywood films as well as in popular concert music. From Nicole Kidman to Madonna and Jennifer Lopez, they are all dancing to Hindi films tunes; Hindi film music is rocking the discos all over the world. A.R. Rehman is storming the team, Shekhar molded the Elizabeth image of Indira Gandhi and the character of Sir Francis -----played by ---in the film had shapes of Lord Krishna in Mahabharata. If you read the script or see the film closely you will notice it. Manoj naik Shyamlan is carrying the ---through the ghost stories that is grandmother’s knees. We are getting under Hollywood’s skin, into their music, their costumes, their sets , their characters, their stories, the hugely successful face off was borrowed from an Indian mythological story where two men fighting over a woman interchanged their heads and memories. We had science fiction written 5000 years ago. Matrix has used the well known Indian story maya ----has the same theme that the world uses only the virtual reality. this third matrix ----had to include Indian characters, the man and his daughter to underline the idea and now George bush is advising Americans to learn Hindi so what better proof that we are getting there. It is not that whether Hindi films can do it or not, Hindi films are doing it already and American research agency has predicted that by the year 2015 the audience for Hindi films will be the largest in the world and let me tell you Oscar or no Oscar Hollywood is getting jittery about Hindi cinema. So many of Hollywood technicians are rushing to India to find work, it’s not funny. Most of our ads today are shot by cinematographers from the west, make up, costume, art direction, and animation in every field a reverse brain drain is happening. Indian films in general and Hindi films in particular are creating a ---for all things Indian in the heart of the minds of the world so why can’t it do the same for Indian brands. Coming back to Rajnigandha my client has been so thrilled with the success of the brand and the commercials he has now commissioned three more commercials for this year where we use an Indian composer, an Indian fashion designer and an Indian IT student who assert that Indianess and in the world. We are getting there where we belong, the top of the world. Thank you.
Speakers/Speeches Next Speech