An interview with Mike Pandey – President Of Indian Documentary Producers Association (IDPA)
by Shaheen Raaj
Mike Pandey, an Indian filmmaker specializing in making films on wild life & environmental issues, needs no special introduction. He has won over 300 awards till date, for his work to spread awareness about biodiversity & species conservation. Mike Pandey is now working on his latest documentary,’ The Return Of The Tiger’, which is also supported by Bollywood actors Amitabh Bachchan & John Abraham. And since he became the president of the Indian Documentary Producers Association (IDPA), he is doing his best to support the Indian documentary filmmakers to address all their grievances.
What is the current scenario of documentary filmmaking movement?
The documentary filmmaking movement is gaining momentum. In fact the entire scenario & genre of documentary filmmaking is now changing as documentary films are the most effective and the most powerful tools of change.
IDPA has been instrumental in bringing about a lot of encouraging changes as far as Documentary filmmaking is concerned. Comment.
That’s right. And to top it all there is also a good piece of news as after a rigorous & arduous struggle of 5 long years, IDPA has just been successful in signing an MoU with the Government of India that will enable the documentary filmmakers to showcase their films on Doordarshan’s National Channel every week on Sundays and as and when more documentaries will come in then DD National will telecast these documentaries 4 to 5 times a week.
How else will the Documentary filmmakers benefit by this MoU?
Of course the initiative that we have taken with the Government regarding this MoU will certainly benefit them as the filmmakers whose documentaries are telecast will also receive a substantial remuneration which they can reuse it to make other documentaries. And if the telecasted documentaries happens to be an award winning ones then they will also be paid a bonus amount to encourage them to make more such educative, informative, meaningful & entertaining documentaries.
What other initiative has IDPA taken to boost the Documentary filmmakers?
The Indian Documentary Producers Association has also taken an initiative to set up a welfare trust for the documentary filmmakers to bail them out financially on the grounds of their medical crisis. That apart it is also trying to address the needs & the grievances of all the documentary filmmakers.
What other steps are now being taken by IDPA to further the Documentary filmmaking movement?
Frankly speaking at this stage what we at IDPA feel and which is also the need of the hour is that we need to fill up a vast vacuum of really good educational documentary films for children. And we are also trying to get the support of the Government to have an independent documentary channel. As this is the main grievance of the documentary filmmakers that the Government, which honors them with awards galore for their par excellence documentaries, is itself refusing to showcase them on its own platform namely DD National. Besides we are also trying to work on the concept of ‘Playschool’, on the lines of BBC Channel, to showcase inspirational films for children.
Does IDPA lays the blame only on Doordarshan for this step motherly treatment meted out to them?
No, not at all. What’s the point in blaming Doordarshan alone as other channels like BBC and other Satellite Channels too are also refusing to showcase our films. Documentary Filmmakers in general and documentary films in particular are still looked down upon by one & all concerned. In fact the situation is still prevailing as the documentary filmmakers and our films are still meted out a step motherly treatment, more especially by the people who really matters.
So what steps is IDPA taking in this regard?
What can we at IDPA do in this regard. We are just feeling helpless. But of course we are trying our level best to seek Government & some private agencies support to pool in more resources. in fact we are also on the look out for Corporate Social Responsibility funds (CSR) too. CSR is an annual fund of 2% of a businessmen’s profits, which is culled out by them for social work which can really, really help the documentary filmmakers in the long run to make good documentary films as even they in their turn are doing a social service by making educative, informative, meaningful & entertaining docu films for the people at large. In fact many donors are now coming forward to be a part of this initiative.
By the way recently IDPA had also offered some suggestions to IFFI director Shankar Mohan. Right?
Yes Indeed! As the International Film Festival Of India (IFFI Goa) is getting really bigger & better now. We have 2 Baby dreams and as suggested to the Festival Director Shankar Mohan we hope that it is really, really fulfilled and that is to have a separate enclosure in the next IFFI to screen documentary films with separate TV Screens or Computer Monitors so that people are not disappointed in the on rush of the feature films. And secondly we also suggested that there should be a specially created Documentary Lounge’ where all the documentary filmmakers can have an interchange of ideas, other discussions et al. In which both Indian & Foreign documentary filmmakers can view, buy or sell each other’s films.
And lastly what is the advice that you would like to give to the tribe of Documentary filmmakers?
I would like to give a cautionary advice to all the documentary filmmakers to make good, meaningful, informative, entertaining & socially relevant docu films and most importantly their film’s content should be good and their story telling must be powerful enough to have an impactful lasting impression. Period!