Shyam Benegal-directed documentary The Making of the Mahatma, Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi along with National Film Development Corporation’s (NFDC) Sardar Patel — A Nation Stands United and Satyajit Ray’s Ghare Baire emerged as the most-watched films in the first-ever patriotic film festival that was organised by the Union Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry between August 7 and 21.
The festival, which was organised in virtual mode because of the unprecedented coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak and on the occasion of the 74th Independence Day, showcased a variety of movies ranging from Mani Ratnam’s Roja to Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Khakee.
According to the I&B ministry data, accessed by HT, the two films on Gandhi, Ghare Baire, Roja, Heda Hoda, Veera Pandiya Kattabomman, Sardar Patel: A Nation Stands United, and Chittagong have attracted most viewers in the first week of the festival.
Over 60,000 cineastes from 147 nations, including the United States of America (USA), the United Kingdom (UK), the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Canada, and Germany, had watched these films in the first week of the festival.
“The first-ever patriotic film festival got an encouraging response. Several movies have had thousands of viewers and despite it being a modest festival, as compared to the much bigger IFFI (International Film Festival of India), which is slated to be held in Goa in November. People across the globe are keen to watch good cinema on Indian history. Attenborough’s Gandhi, which is one of the most viewed movies, was made accessible for hearing-impaired viewers as well,” said a person aware of the developments.
A majority of the audience was in the age group of 25 and 34 and the gender ratio was 72.5% males to 27.5% females, the ministry data showed. NFDC’s Cinemas of India platform had reported a spike of 3,156.18 % traffic on its website between August 7 and 21, when the festival was held.
Other popular films were Udayer Pathey, Chota Sipahi, Shahadat, Abhi Kal Ki Baat Hai, Ae Vatan Ter Liye, Andhra Kesari, The Flag, Harun Arun, 1971: Beyond Borders, Battalion 609, Khakee, Qayamat, Tango Charlie, and Spread The Light of Freedom.
Around 84.76 % users watched these films on mobile devices, as compared to desktops and tablets, according to the data.
Nearly 88.% of the viewers were from India, the USA, the UAE, Germany, Canada and the UK.
“The festival received a lot of support from several celebrities. Music composer A R Rehman gave a video message, urging cinema lovers to seize the opportunity to watch patriotic films free of cost. He was also nostalgic about Roja that was screened at the festival, as he was the music composer of the film,” said the person quoted above.
The patriotic film festival is a precursor to IFFI, which will be held in Goa in November. “The lessons learnt here will also be put to good use in Goa,” the person said.
Former I&B secretary Uday Varma said it was a positive sign that many people, especially youngsters, were keen on watching movies about those who made history. “It is a positive trend and will help them develop a better perspective,” he said.