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Arun, the cineaste with a mission - Amshan Kumar

For qualified professionals forsaking their lucrative jobs for careers in the tinsel town though wrought with risks the rewards in store make them well worth the trouble. But when one of them like M. Arun, opted for the sidewalks to promote short films in Tamil and not venture into film making even though he had a film diploma from a London University, it was altogether a different matter. `When I gave up my job I shared the news only with my wife. But my family members did not panic when they came to know of it. ` Arun went farther than what usually the votaries of good cinema do namely lecturing and writing in an effort to create a favourable milieu for it.

He founded in 2008. To begin with it was a website forum for short film enthusiasts but the very next year Arun upgraded it into a movement. The first meeting with thirty people was held in Marina beach to discuss strategies. Presently the movement boasts of active following that runs into thousands and any information by him is shared by a few hundred thousands of people all over the world thanks to networking.

But why does he want to promote shorts?

`I could easily find the content of our shorts were far more progressive, varied and artistic than our mainstream cinema. If properly executed and encouraged they can be showcased along with the best in world cinema.` says Arun with an assurance that is typical of him.

Arun`s passion to provide impetus to featurettes takes multifarious forms. In Thamizh studio monthly meetings short film screenings are followed by talks by experts from various fields. To date he has conducted more than sixty meetings spread across five years. He has taken his movement to upcountry locales as well, covering twenty two districts of Tamilnadu. While regular short film screenings are his forte, Arun has never allowed to slip any opportunity to exhibit world film classics to his members. He also arranged for screenings of one hundred landmark Indian films for a whole year as part of his Indian film centenary celebrations. A romantic at heart he used to conduct film screenings on the terrace of his office on full moon days that were followed by dinner and night long discussions. He instituted the Lenin award (named after film editor B.Lenin) that is given annually to a noted short/documentary film maker. It carries a cash component of ten thousand rupees along with a citation. This year he introduced a new award exclusively for debutant short film makers , namely Balu Mahendra Award. It was instituted as a homage to the memory of a film maker who was a pillar of support to his activitities. Apart from screenings and award functions there is another area where his focus is singularly felt and that is training students to make films. His Padimai (meaning `image` in Tamil) curriculam is unique that it is not a short term course. Students who enroll have to undergo training not only in film making but they should also sit for classes that teach various subjects. `Induction in other arts is vital for film makers since cinema itself is a synthetic art` says Arun. Experts are invited to teach. Recently West Bengal Film director Buddadeb Dasgupta while he was in Chennai to attend a function was roped in to address the students. The course is absolutely free as are his other offerings. Recently he has turned to publishing of books on cinema.

Arun is also an unrelenting critic of Tamil films when they err on visual narration. His support for good cinema at times takes solid proportions. Recently when theatre owners following threats from jingoists pulled out Prasanna Vithanage`s bilingual Sri Lankan film `With you without you` from exhibition , he defiantly arranged for its screening amidst uproar. The screening was attended by the film maker himself. It is surprising that despite his simultaneous occupation with several programmes he maintains regularity. And where does he find the means to achieve his goals? ` As long as I could afford I spent my money and then ran into debts. I don`t pass my hat around often. I accept donations only after verifying the bonafides of donors. On several occasions until the very last moment I would be starving for funds only to be miraculously rescued by a well wisher.` He has many well wishers and friends though.

Unlike in the past this year the Lenin award was given not to a Tamil achiever but to Anand Patwardhan the internationally acclaimed documentary film maker. With an event of such proportion Thamizh studio under the stewardship of Arun has crossed the boundaries set by itself. Tamizh Studio is entering its seventh year this month and on the occasion of its celebration Arun has chosen to release a collection of articles written by him on short film classics of the world titled `Nadu kadantha Kalai` (An art beyond Nation).

- Amshan Kumar


வாசகர்கள் தங்கள் படைப்புகளை என்கிற மின்னஞ்சல் முகவரிக்கு அனுப்பி வைக்கவும்.

படைப்புகள் வேறெந்த வடிவிலும், வேறெந்த ஊடகங்களிலும் வெளிவந்திருக்கக் கூடாது. படைப்புகளை யுனி கோட் வடிவில் அனுப்பவும். அல்லது பயன்படுத்திய எழுத்துருவை தெரிவிக்கவும்.

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