]
Darpan Majumdar interviewing Aruna Vasudev, Festival Director.
Question The very first question which arises how cinema, p...
art. It was a mind blowing experience to see Dun Huang with them and so
many many wonderful Buddhist sites.
Ques How you a...
the opening of the Festival should be a Buddhist dance from Sri Lanka or
Laos or Burma. So the ICCR is bringing a group fr...
have discovered so much of India through seeing the documentaries we have
in the Festival. Hopefully others will too.
Intr...
and practitioners of Buddhism will, we are convinced, lead to a greater
understandingof adoctrinerevered by millions which...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

The interview with Aruna Vasudev

167 views

Published on

This was during The Inner Path festival.

Published in: Spiritual
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

The interview with Aruna Vasudev

  1. 1. ]
  2. 2. Darpan Majumdar interviewing Aruna Vasudev, Festival Director. Question The very first question which arises how cinema, performance, exhibitions etc. and Buddhism comes together? Sakyamuni Buddha was born in India, attained enlightenment here and it was from here that his message of peace and compassionspread across the world. And in India the cinema occupies a huge spacein our lives. To bring Buddhism and cinema together then, was only appropriate. Cinema has always been at the heart of Netpac, as Buddhism guides the vision statement of Devki Foundation. This was the perfect opportunity for us to come together. But even bringing Buddhism and cinema together was not satisfying enough for us. We felt the need to complement the beauty of the films, the underlying messages they contain, the themes they explore, the search for meaning they reveal, with not only other forms of creative expression like still photography and art but also with intellectual investigation. Question : What is the reason for this festival to happen and how it was conceived ? When I was still running Cinemaya and Netpac India had started organising film weeks from different countries, we did a week of Asian Films on Buddhist Themes in 1995. This was also done at Azad Bhavan, with the supportof the ICCR. We took that Festival to Calcutta as well. I have been very drawn to Buddhist philosophy for a very long time. I have a number of friends who follow different traditions of Buddhism and the past few years I have been more and more drawn to it and became a member of Soka Gakkai. Last year, I went on a long trip along the Silk Route in China with a group of six friends, most of whom were Buddhist scholars, or historians of Buddhist
  3. 3. art. It was a mind blowing experience to see Dun Huang with them and so many many wonderful Buddhist sites. Ques How you and Suresh Jindal ( Devki Foundation) is partnering for the ‘The Inner Path Festival’? Then, Suresh Jindal is a very very old friend and when he turned from cinema to Buddhism, we used to have long discussions about all this. Last year I was in Singapore with my Netpac group and one of them has been working with the Buddhist Film Festival in Singapore. That's when I said But why don't we have such a Festival in India. She gave me a few DVDs of some Buddhist films to see and the seed was planted. But it was when Suresh and I were talking over a drink in early February and he was leaving for Sri Lanka for the new film by Rinpoche Khyentsu Norbu for which he is the Executive Producer, that I said Why don'twe have a Buddhist film festival in Delhi. And he immediately said 'yes' let's do it. He had just been asked to come on the Board of the International Buddhist Film Festival based in California. So he put me in touch with that organisation too, and it all just took off. Ques How did ICCR got interested in ‘The Inner Path festival’? I went to meet Dr Suresh Goel, DG of the ICCR about something else. And in the courseof the conversation I told him what we wanted to do, and how about doing it at ICCR. He immediately said yes, why not. And before anyone could blink, the dates were fixed and we were off. Suresh was in Sri Lanka and I was talking to him on the phone and on email and he couldn't believe that it had all come together in ten short days. It was when he returned to Delhi that it all took shape and we put together, not just the films but also introduced the Talks and Panel Discussions. Shashi Bala had come to lunch and in the course of that lunch, the idea of Panel Discussions on Bodhisattvas took shape also. I had already spoken to Benoy Behl and he was happy to have his exhibition become a part of it. Then I spoke to Kiran Mohan and she put together a small exhibition of contemporary Indian Buddhist Art. The ICCR always has a performance on Fridays so together we decided that
  4. 4. the opening of the Festival should be a Buddhist dance from Sri Lanka or Laos or Burma. So the ICCR is bringing a group from Colombo. Ques Is the nature and ambition is to make it an annual event? Many people across the world, across our extensive cinema (Netpac’s) and Buddhist (Suresh Jindal) network have now heard about it and want to participate in some way. We hope very much to make this into an annual event, and a much bigger event. But we will wait and see how it goes and take it from there. Are you planning to take it to other cities in India? And any global aspirations for this festival ? We have already been invited to Pune with the Films in the festival as a Buddhist Film Festival in Pune in the first week of June. We will then see where we go next. We would like to take it, at least the films but each time add some Talks on Buddhism if not an art exhibition, to other Indian citites like Patna and Bangalore.. This has been organised by Latika Padgaonkar, my very long time colleague – on Cinemaya and Cinefan - and friend who has moved to Pune. She is also a Trustee of Netpac India. And then, we are very keen on taking it to some of the SAARC countries. Let’s wait to see how this goes and then take it from there. You have been one of the finest Film Scholars India have ever seen, what do you think is the state of affairs with the alternative/parallel cinema and how much these festivals helps? Some of the films in the festival are also outstanding as cinema. But more than that, this will hopefully encourage filmmakers in India to look at Buddhism as a subject for their films. Very few films have been made in India on this subject - or theme. Plenty of documentaries, but few features. It would be nice if more filmmakers looked at this possibility. There are such extraordinarily beautiful sites in India, where films can be shot. I myself
  5. 5. have discovered so much of India through seeing the documentaries we have in the Festival. Hopefully others will too. Introductionin the catalogue With Buddhism spreadingrapidly acrossthe world – especially among the young, it wastime, wefelt, to look at its manifold aspectsin today’s context. SakyamuniBuddhawasborn in India, attained enlightenment here and it was from here that his message of peace and compassion spread across the world. Butimpermanence – aswe are told - is the order of all phenomena. Buddhism well-nighdisappeared from Indiafor centuries and has only now started to return to its place of birth. India. And in India the cinema occupies a huge space in our lives. To bring Buddhism and cinematogether then, wasonly appropriate. Cinemahas alwaysbeen at the heart of Netpac, as Buddhism guidesthe vision statement of DevkiFoundation. This wasthe perfect opportunity for us to come together. Buteven bringingBuddhism and cinematogether was not satisfyingenough for us. Wefelt the need to complementthe beauty of the films, the underlyingmessagesthey contain, the themes they explore, the search for meaningthey reveal, with not only other formsof creative expression like still photography and art but also with intellectual investigation. The core of Buddhism isone, but a myriad waysto understand and approachit evolved over the centuriesin differentpartsof the world. Our attempt in this first-ever Festival of Buddhism in Indiais to open minds – and hearts - to a profound yetexperientialspirituality. The Talks and the paneldiscussionsby some of the most eminentthinkers
  6. 6. and practitioners of Buddhism will, we are convinced, lead to a greater understandingof adoctrinerevered by millions which fosters mindfulness, compassion and lovingkindnessin a fractured and fragmented world. Not satisfied with this, we also believe in openingthe way to active participation. And so we have space for a presentation of work that needsto be doneto preservewhat is left of our peerlessheritage. In vast areas of the country immeasurabletreasuresstill lie hidden and which Siddharth Gauriis engaged in tryingto documentand restore. This is only a beginning. Weare determined to carry this forward in the years to come and wehope you will be with usin the exciting journey that lies ahead. …………………………………………………..

×