Playboy says boys think of sex once in every four minutes; I’d say Bangaloreans think of real estate once in every four minutes,” says theatre personality and film-maker, Prakash Belawadi.
Belawadi has come up with a film festival, possibly the first in India and even in the world, focused on real estate.
The festival is being organized by Nani Cinematheque, a film society in the making. Belawadi is a prime mover behind Nani Cinematheque, which plans to host a series of film festivals around contemporary themes.
In Bangalore, going by Belawadi’s assessment, things don’t get any more contemporary than real estate.
“People here are constantly discussing rates per square feet, areas designated for commercial use and residential use, issues of changes in land use,” he adds.
Nani Cinematheque, which has already signed on around 100 members, has drawn up a list of 53 films comprising Hollywood and Indian productions, that touch some aspect of the common man’s travails with building or buying real estate, for the first of its thematic events.
Of these, about eight films will eventually be picked for screening at the festival that will run for three days over a weekend. The festival will have at least one rerun over another weekend.
“Growth of realty in Bangalore is amazing,” says Ravinder Grover, managing director, Sandalwood Highstreet Residential Consultants Pvt. Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Jones Lang La Salle Meghraj, a real estate advisory. The information technology sector and the constantly rising per capita income of the city have kept the realty market in the city buoyant. Unlike Mumbai, Bangalore has room for expansion, but the only issue coming in the way of the city’s realty growth is its inadequate infrastructure, Grover adds.
Real estate prices in some of India’s metros have soared three times in the past three years as a booming economy and easy credit have made home owning affordable. Still, the runaway prices have started to hurt, putting middle class homes out of the reach of those people for whom they are built.
Belawadi expects the festival to address three major issues related to realty. The first is displacement, its politicization and fallout. “When displaced people are made partners in the development, the impact can be positive,” he says. “When (they are) moved out of the area completely, there is a bitterness and perverse side that creeps in, no matter how big a compensation is given,” he adds.
The second issue concerns government policy. “In the absence of a clear policy where the government does not understand its role as a planner and a regulator, the unscrupulous side of realty development can get unleashed,” says Belawadi.
Finally, there is the cultural issue, where trends in real estate contribute to changing lifestyles.
The 53 films lined up for selection have been picked by the members of Nani Cinematheque, a network of film buffs and alumni of Pune’s Film and Television Institute of India.
The suggested films include Italian film-maker Francesco Rossi’s Hands over the City, which depicts the corruption and cut-throat desire for money behind the building of a city. Two Indian films, Girish Kasaravalli’s national award-winning Kannada film, Mane (The Dwelling), and Bhimsain’s Bollywood romance, Gharonda, are in the running.
The line-up also includes about 21 Hollywood productions. A favourite for the eventual shortlist is Frank Capra’s 1939 Oscar-nominated comedy, Mr Smith Goes to Washington. There is also John Ford’s black and white epic from 1940, The Grapes of Wrath, which tackles the issue of displacement. The film was nominated for seven academy awards.
“We will have to seek permission for screening the Hollywood and Indian films,” says Belawadi, adding that this will add to the cost of the festival. Expectedly, he is looking for corporate sponsors.
But he adds that he won’t seek support from real estate firms as this might dilute the quality of the festival.