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It is a matter of great pride and honour for India that Ministry of Information and Broadcasting New Delhi organised a special Interactive session with John Bailey, President,Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science, USA and his wife, Mrs. Carol Littleton, at Sirifort Auditorium II, New Delhi on 28th May 2019 in the gracious presence of Sh. Amit Khare, IAS, Secretary,Ministry of I&B. When I entered the auditorium at about 12. 25,(5 minutes before the starting time), the auditorium was packed with film lovers, film enthusiasts, film scholars, film historians.

Preview committee members of 49th IFFI, film students, production staff of NFDC and senior officials of Ministry of I& B.

Among the VIPs , present were Dr. Prassun Joshi, Chairman, Central Board of Film Certification, Mumbai  Mr. Ujwal N. Nirgudkar, Academy  member from Mumbai, Dr. Sadhna Rout, Principal Director General / Publication Division, Ministry of I&B , Sh.  Atul Kumar Tiwari , Addl secretary/ Min of I&B ,  Sh. Ashok Parmar ,IAS, JS(Films), Sh. VikramSahai, IAS, JS (P/A), CEO/Prasar Bharti, sh.ShashiSekharVempati, Mr. Prakash Magdum, Director NFAI Pune, Rahul Ravel, filmmaker ,, Ms. SupriyaSahu, DG/Doordarshan, Mr .Mayank Aggarwal, DG News, Ms.  Ira Joshi , DG News /All India Radio, ShChaitanya Prasad, ADG/Directorate of Film Festivals, Sh. C. SenthilRajan, ex DFF and Director / News  , Mr. GautamKaul , Film historian and ex- President/ FFSIand  heads of various other organisations like, FFI and NFDC.

Everybody was waiting anxiously to have the glimpse of John Bailey. At last the moment came when John entered the auditorium along with his wife and band of senior officials from the Ministry of I&B headed by Secretary, Mr. Amit Khare.  Everybody stood up and gave very warm welcome to the couple. John and his wife carol were overwhelmed to receive the vibrant welcome.  John was felicitated by offering a memento and shawl. John acknowledged the same by folding his hands and bowing before the audience very gently. This was followed by customary lighting of the lamp.

Sh, Ashok Parmar, JS (Films) welcomed John and his wife andgave the background of Indian cinema, how it progressed over the years. He also requested John to guide as to how Indian Cinema can get more Oscar Awards. This was followed by screening 3 short films. The first two films, ” History of Indian cinema” and “IFFI” were produced by DD News and the third film was produced by Film Felicitation office(FFO)/NFDC. All the three films were lauded by the audience.

Chairman, CBFC board, Prassun Joshi said, Cinema is a complex subject. It is now a part and parcel of our daily life. Often people quote dialogues from the films. It used to be a tough job to make films earlier. Today things have changed. People make films on mobile. The current trend is of “Cinema Loktantra- the democratization of movie making in India”.  Film Festivals provide an opportunity for collective viewing, otherwise, we can see films, while sitting in our rooms.”

Mr. Amit Khare, secretary, ministry of I&B welcomed John and his wife Carol Littleton to India, which happens to be their first visit to India. He talked about abundance of talent in India and the spirit in films being made in regional languages. He highlighted the incentives offered to budding filmmakers by different states and expressed hope that association with Mr, Bailey and the Academy will help showcase craft of Indian filmmakers all over the world.” I think Mrs. Carol is also interested in good cinema.” said, Mr. Khare. Justice ManmohanSarin said ,” I had an arbitration hearing at  2.30 pm today, but I am here to welcome and meet  John Bailey and his good lady. Both are professionals. John is the first Cinematographer, who has been elected as the President of the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences. His wife, Carol Littleton is an editor.”

John Bailey, said,’ Indian Cinema history is the same as that of America. In USA, the first film was made on Christ in 1907. We have similar experiences. We have been in India for 5 days. I am a cinematographer and my wife is an editor.We have been married for 47 years and have worked on many films together. Cinema is our life and not profession.” Carol said,” Wonderful experience in 5 days in India. We acknowledge the story telling in India. We can meet each other through films.” The couple appreciated diversity in India. There are 23/24 languages in India.’

A book called” Digital Dilemma”, written by Milt Shelton andAndy Maltz from Academy and translated in to Hindi and Marathi, by Mr. Ujwal .N Nirgudkar was e-released by the Academy President, John Bailey.John Bailey said, “Hindi translation is important in order to reach out to the film fraternity in India. There are many challenges thrown by technological changes in film storage medium and this book will help filmmakers in understanding and planning of born digital material. NFAI works for conservation, preservation and restoration of films.” This book was earlier written in 2008 in English. Nirgudkar informed that 50 copies of this book will be kept in Hollywood Library.

Mr. Ujwal .N. Nirgudkar was the official coordinator of the John Bailey and his wife visit to India. According to him, it is for the first time in the history of Academy in the last 90 years that,any President of the Academy has visited India. John Bailey is the first   cinematographer to become the President of the academy and visit India for the first time, as president of Academy. Nirgudkar joined Academy as it’s member in 2017 along with Amitabh Bachchan, Amir Khan, Salman Khan, AishwaryaRai, Priyanka Chopra and DeepikaPadukone. Nirgudkar is the first Indian to be in Oscar Academy Selection Jury. I have personally known Nirgudkar for the last 3 year when we met during IFFI 2015 at Goa..

An interactive session with John,Academy governor Carol was held, in which Dr. Prassun Joshi and Ujjwal N. Nirgudkar were also present. The session was moderated by SaibalChattergee, National award winner, film critic. Prassun Joshisaid,” why can’t we have a single award for the best director irrespective of the gender?” Carol reactedthat” these days more women are recognized for their work and as such, there should be separate category for them. Script is the back bone of any film.”

According to John Bailey, “India needs to have an internal dialogue about it’s films to have more representation at the Oscars. The Indian films should be promoted across the world. Indian films are more popular in China How about Korea, Japan Southeast Asia. Indian films are made in 23/24 languages .When the Academy is thinking of diversity, I can’t think of any other country in the world , apart from India that presents the opportunities and challenges of diversity and unifying us all through diversity. Academy is committed to promote diversity”. It wasa very engrossing and interesting session.

An excellent vote of thanks was given by no less than the Additional Director General of Directorate of FilmFestivals/Ministry of I&B, Mr. Chaitanya Prasad. A good delicious lunch was provided by DFF to everybody who came to attend the function. About 500 people enjoyed the lunch. A press conference was also organized by DFF with John and carol after Lunch.

The entire function has been a grand success. I congratulate Mr. Amit Khare, secretary, I&B, all officers and staff of Ministry on the grand success of the entire function. I also thank secretary sir, for providing rare of the rarest opportunity to interact with the great film personality of the world, like President of the Academy of Motion Picutures, Arts and sciences, USA. I take this opportunity to Congratulate Mr. Chaitanya Prasad, ADG/DFF and his team of officers,Ms. TanuRai andPrashant Kumar,Dy Directors , other officers and staff on the grand success of the rare event.

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