India Insight

Costa-Gavras prefers Bollywood fantasy to American action

Filmmaker Costa-Gavras, best known for the 1969 political thriller “Z“, has documented prickly themes such as dictatorship, dissent and oppression over the past half-century.

“Z”, which won the Oscar for best foreign film, was a fictionalized account of the assassination of Greek politician Grigoris Lambrakis and inspired the 2012 Bollywood film “Shanghai“.

The French director of Greek descent made several critically acclaimed films, including the 1982 American drama “Missing” which won him an Oscar for best adapted screenplay.

Costa-Gavras, 80, received a lifetime achievement award at the ongoing Mumbai Film Festival and spoke to Reuters about cinema, what he thinks of Bollywood and why he cannot stand American action thrillers. Edited excerpts from the interview.

Your film “Z” was the inspiration for India’s “Shanghai”. Does your cinema have global resonance and global themes?
Yes, I heard about it. The story of “Z”, apart from being a Greek story, was about non-democratic power, usually the police and the army. And you always have people resisting against this. It was the same with “Capital“. You have people speculating with banks and doing negative things in society. The banks are legal, what they are doing is legal, but they decide what to do — it is a kind of dictatorship. It is a legal dictatorship.

Politics and films: An Indian affair

The Congress party has bought the rights to “Jai Ho”, the Oscar-winning song from “Slumdog Millionaire”, to use for its election campaign.

Although popular Bollywood song tunes have always been used after being set to new lyrics for canvassing votes, acquiring the rights to a song for election campaigning is a possible first.

Congress leaders said the song, whose title is Hindi for “Let There be Victory,” will be played during rallies in rural towns, villages and cities. But why did the party go so far as to get the song rights?

Children who can’t smile – the cleft lip deformity

Doctors call it the “ignored problem” and semi-literate parents in India’s rural hinterland view it as a “curse of God”.

Unfortunately, being born with the cleft lip, a physical deformity that can be easily corrected, can alter the course of a person’s life.

Megan Mylan’s documentary film “Smile Pinki”, the story of an eight-old girl with a cleft lip, may have won an Oscar, but for thousands of children living with the deformity, the battle is far from over.