Vista 2013 couldn’t have asked for a better beginning. The keynote speaker, Padma Shri Kamal Haasan, set the tone for the vibrant fest with his candid quotes, witty one-liners, and savvy repartee.
Beyond all that charm which was uncorked effortlessly, was wisdom, delivered in easy-to-digest capsules, and a fervent invitation to B-School students to create opportunities for themselves in the Indian film industry.
“Come into my industry with your professional skills. It staggers me that we have so many people crazy about films in this country but few professionals in this industry,” he said.
Delivering the keynote on the theme of the fest, ‘Inspire, Aspire, Achieve’, he remarked drily: “Today, instigation is mistaken for inspiration, avarice is mistaken for aspiration and mere accuracies are heralded as achievements!”
But he was quick to repose faith in the youth. “Your dreams are fresh. Before you become willing to compromise in the name of pragmatism, you should become the change we all hope to see,” he advised.
“People often mistake that my industry is full of entertainers. No, film making is a business. The first man to make a film was an entrepreneur. The reason why I am here, at IIMB, is self-serving. I hope to attract young talent like you into my industry, which is ailing because people who make money out of films are not ploughing profits back into it. Bring your entrepreneurial and managerial skills into my industry,” he said.
Kamal Haasan was welcomed to Vista, by Dr. Padmini Srinivasan, Assistant Professor, Finance & Control Area, IIMB, who lauded the students for conceptualizing and hosting the popular business fest.
Kamal Haasan’s keynote address was short and stimulating, but the Q&A upped the ante and brought out the best in both the speaker and the spirited students.
From Rajnikanth (“the only reason we don’t act together is that we don’t want to share the loot!”) to Sivaji Ganesan (“the only sun in my horizon when I woke up to cinema was Sivaji”); from the 100-crore movie club (“Rome will be vandalized by Caesars and re-crafted by vandals”) to the Oscars (“why do you want American chaap for ISI products?”) he was brutally honest.
But it was his take on DTH that earned him the loudest applause. “Come on guys, how many of you watch movies on Torrent?” he asked and when a mighty lot of hands in the packed-to-the-rafters auditorium went up, he grinned and remarked, “Ah! I only blame your age for your honesty!”
On a more serious note, he declared open war on obsolete technology and dubbed those who kept digital cinema out of the reach of the masses for over two decades as vested interests. “They are not villains really, but they do come very close!”
It was, he said, for the busy housewives, the elders – his fans from an earlier generation, the ill and infirm, who have equal rights as anyone else to enjoy quality cinema, that he chose to take the DTH route for ‘Viswaroopam’.
Technology is disruptive and should be harnessed, not kept at out, he observed, adding that young talent — in the form of a new generation of professionally qualified managers and entrepreneurs – would save the ailing film industry which he compared to an over-exploited oil well. “People don’t even dump dead dinosaurs into oil wells,” he rued.
The sobering thought was quickly replaced by a startling story. When asked about his favorite actor, he called for his mobile phone and shared a picture of Dilip Kumar. “He’s a scholar; a man so erudite that he was far ahead of his times,” he said, softly.
And then came the story.
“One night, at a film party, Yusuf saab (Dilip Kumar) sat munching a sandwich and a young man plonked himself next to the thespian and announced – very loudly, assuming that Yusuf saab, like most elderly folks, was deaf: ‘All young actors want to be like you’. Startled by the young man’s loud voice, Yusuf saab turned a little away and continued munching his sandwich. The persistent young man thought the thespian hadn’t heard him and shouted even louder, ‘All young actors want to be like you’, making poor Yusuf saab choke and splutter and wonder aloud ‘But why?’
“Indeed, ‘but why?’ Yusuf saab’s response was stunning in its simplicity. Why should we all be like someone else? Let’s make our own road maps in life.”
With that slogan, the curtains on the day’s event came gently down, but before the credits could roll, the consummate artiste and gifted raconteur delivered the punch line.
A student wanted to know about his love for Tamil. ‘Oh, I love Tamil alright! I love to speak the language, I think in my mother tongue but it’s just that when I tried to say ‘I love you’ in Tamil to my first date, it was disastrous. Since then, I play it safe and stick to simple English in such vital matters!”
Now you know why the students grinned all the way back to their dorms.
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