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Source:  http://www.hindu.com/2009/12/14/stories/2009121458870300.htm

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Ratanaruang makes films for fun

Staff Reporter

Photo: S. Mahinsha

‘Accidental filmmaker’: Thai filmmaker Pen-Ek Ratanaruang speaking at the Meet the Director programme organised as part of the 14th International Film Festival of Kerala in the city on Sunday. Amit Rai, director of ‘Road to Sangam,’ moderator V.C. Harris and filmmaker Ranjith are also seen. –

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Renowned Thai filmmaker Pen-Ek Ratanaruang said here on Sunday that he considers himself as an amateur who makes films for fun rather than for a living.

“I am an accidental filmmaker. Film is not my career. I have not studied filmmaking and I have not made any money from my films. So you can say that I am actually an amateur,” he said.

Speaking at the Meet the Director programme organised as part of the 14th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), Mr. Ratanaruang said all his films were basically love stories. He said although crime and comedy had both been part of most of his films, there had been no deliberate attempts to mix the two.

Mr. Ratanaruang, who has directed seven films and scripted six of them, has received international openings for all of his films. His film ‘Transistor Love Story’ was premiered at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. His films have been included in the Contemporary Masters category of the 14th IFFK.

Talking about the Thai film industry, Mr. Ratanaruang said that in Thailand, films were not considered as part of the culture or as an art but only as entertainment.

“We have an independent film scene mostly confined to short films. Short filmmakers have more freedom. But overall the Thai film industry is quite healthy in terms of yearly financial turnover. The audience have started watching more and more local films, the production is also much better now,” he said.

‘Road to Sangam’

Also present at the Meet the Director programme were Amit Rai, whose film ‘Road to Sangam’ has been included in the competition section of the festival, and Malayalam film-maker Ranjith.

Mr. Rai said that his film is a contemporary one based on some historic facts and inspired from real life.

He said that the film, about the predicaments of a Muslim mechanic trying to restore a vintage Ford engine which once carried Gandhiji’s ashes, tells the story from the point of view of the Muslim community.

“I came to know about such a man in Allahabad from a news report. Later I read another report about an urn containing Gandhiji’s ashes being locked in a bank vault in Orissa for many years. The film has been inspired by these two news reports.,’ he said .

Mr Rai said he did not have much trouble trying to find producers to fund the film as he already had some veteran actors on board. “I first took the script of ‘Road to Sangam’ to the lead actors of the film, including Paresh Rawal and Om Puri, all of whom agreed to do the film instantly. It took four years to make this film, and it was a wonderful journey for me,” he said.

The film has won laurels at the Mumbai International Film Festival, International Film Festival of South Africa and International Independent Film Festival, Germany. It will be released in India in January.

‘Kerala Cafe’

Mr. Ranjith said he was happy to see that many youngsters turned up for the screening of his film ‘Kerala Café’ at the festival. “Kerala Café is the first anthology film in Malayalam. It has 10 stories, which are connected in some ways,” he said.

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