A conversation with the Hungarian film scholar, Györgyi Vajdovich
By Murtaza Ali Khan
Noted Hungarian film scholar Györgyi Vajdovich was recently in the capital to deliver a lecture on Bollywood in Hungary at the National Gallery of Modern Art as part of the 2018 Hungarian Film Days recently hosted in New Delhi, India. Vajdovich, who is an Associate Professor at the Institute for Art Theory and Media Studies, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, specializes in Bollywood and early Hungarian cinema.
Here Vajdovich talks to Café Dissensus Films Editor, Murtaza Ali Khan, about the latest trends in Hungarian cinema, subsidies extended to Indian films shot in Hungary, and the growing popularity of Indian cinema in Hungary.
Murtaza Ali Khan: What is the vision behind organizing Hungarian Film Days in India?
Györgyi Vajdovich: I think it is very important to improve bilateral cooperation between our two countries with such a rich cultural heritage and cinema history. We are very happy to be here and are excited to interact with Indian filmmakers and experts. I also delivered a lecture on Bollywood in Hungary and it was quite heartening to see the response. The interaction with students was really nice. They asked some very good questions and it was really nice to see their curiosity.
MAK: You were in Guwahati for a film festival prior to this. Has the tour been very hectic?
GV: Well, we were invited to the Guwahati International Film Festival where we spent three days. We had a series of discussions and presentations there. Now we have a three-day programme in Delhi where we have different lectures and one of my colleagues is presenting a series of short films. So, as hectic as it may be, it is proving to be a very productive visit.
MAK: Apart from your academic endeavors, you are closely working to promote the cultural ties between India and Hungary. Tell us about your association.
GV: Actually, my association with India is at two levels. Firstly, I am working with the Hungarian Information and Cultural Centre here in Delhi to bring Hungarian films to the Indian audiences as part of initiatives like Hungarian Film Days. Also, I am working very closely with the Indian Embassy in Hungary. I am basically organizing their film club. So, I am really glad to be able to make a contribution to both Hungarian and Indian Embassies.
MAK: Hungary has always had a rich legacy as far as cinema is concerned. What are the latest trends in Hungarian cinema?
GV: The interesting thing about Hungary is that arthouse cinema enjoys a much stronger following than commercial cinema. Over the years Hungarian cinema has witnessed a lot of interesting new developments. Even the making of short films has developed quite a lot and it is really amazing to see how Hungarian short films are gaining traction in international film festivals as well. Kristóf Deák’s short film Sing won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 2017. Also, in the recent times, we have had some really exciting women filmmakers who are making a mark for themselves.
MAK: What are your thoughts on the popularity of Bollywood and Indian cinema in Hungary?
GV: What I like the most nowadays is the midway track between art cinema and popular cinema. It’s really great how more and more Indian films are taking this path that has led to small budget productions becoming big hits such as Udaan, Lunchbox, Dum Laga Ke Haisha, etc. I believe this is the most interesting trend right now. Also, I have noticed that my students in Budapest like such movies. While I personally love the traditional Indian films from the ‘90s and mid-2000s as well, for the Western people and film students these newer Indian films are more accessible.
MAK: What kind of support does Hungarian administration extends to any Indian filmmaker who wants to shoot his/her film in Hungary?
GV: Previously there were very few Indian films shot in Hungary but nowadays the numbers are going up. Jab Harry Met Sejal and Raabta are two recent examples that come to mind. I think today more filmmakers are coming to Hungary because the state is offering attractive subsidies for these films. In terms of number, I believe you can get back 30 percent of the sum that you have spent while shooting your film in Hungary. Also, in this you can include a part of the salary of the Indian crew as well apart from the money that you have paid to the European crew members.
Murtaza Ali Khan is an independent film critic based out of Delhi, India. He is the editor-in-chief of A Potpourri of Vestiges and is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. He has also contributed to The Hindu, The Quint, Wittyfeed, etc. He is on the guest panel for live discussions on the television channel News X. He is Films Editor at Café Dissensus.
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