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RS 1 / VOL. 52

THE MAGAZINE ON INDO-GERMAN RELATIONS

ISSUE NO. 1 / FEB. 2012

Politics

Low-carbon growth plan

Portrait

Conversation with Megha Mittal

Economy

Germany’s vocational education scheme

Science

Climate changes & challenges

Culture

Aamir Khan in Berlin

Building strong ties


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S 1 / VOL. 52

THE MAGAZINE ON INDO-GE

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MAN R

ELATIONS

ISSUE NO. 1 / FEB. 2012

Politics

Low-carbon growth plan

Portrait

Conversation with Megha Mittal

Economy

Germany’s vocational education scheme

Science

Climate changes & challenges

Culture

Aamir Khan in Berlin


RS 1 / VOL. 52

THE MAGAZINE ON INDO-GERMAN RELATIONS

ISSUE NO. 1 / FEB. 2012

t r a n s l a t i o n

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Economy

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Science

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Culture


30 Science

cultures of disaster Words: Narayani Ganesh

Cultural memory, history and belief systems have important roles to play in the way we deal with disasters

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hen does a natural event become a disaster? And what’s culture got to do with natural disasters and their management? Quite a lot, it seems. » A natural event becomes a disaster when it clashes with cultural settlement structures «, says researcher Prof Gerrit Jasper Schenk, team leader of the Junior Research Group › Cultures of Disaster ‹. Human agency and dealing with risk shape the course a catastrophe takes decisively. It is here that culture comes into play. To enable better understanding of why and how disasters occur worldwide and how best we can learn to face the challenge, the German Research Foundation (DFG) has allotted generous funding to Schenk’s research group to encourage the study of disasters from a historical and cultural perspective. The research group is part of an interdisciplinary network of researchers at Heidelberg University’s Cluster of Excellence › Asia and Europe in a Global context ‹. Here, scholars from different discipline backgrounds study the processes of exchange of ideas, concepts, technolo-gies, commodities, and people between Asia and Europe throughout history, the impact these exchange processes have on local environments (human and natural), and how these retroact in their places of origin. The application of such a perspective on disaster research could reveal the

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ways in which we react to catastrophic events and deal with them through the layers of social and cultural conditioning while working within the constraints imposed by political institutions, governance and public administration and sense of collective responsibility. This could result in finding solutions that are not merely operational in the sense of post-disaster management but, more importantly, in dealing with disasters through cultural learning experiences from across the world and perhaps help minimise the trauma and damage. Among the worst examples of parachute-dropping western solutions to eastern crises was seen in the way rehabilitation of ancient monuments was carried out prior to the earthquake that devastated Gujarat in 2004, particularly in Bhuj where the impact was most severe. Medieval structures that had recently been › successfully ‹ renovated by the Archaelogical Survey of India were reduced to rubble while those that had retained their ancient form remained intact despite the earth shaking their foundations. How did this happen? Western technology using cement was slapped onto the dome that was constructed in ribbed fashion. Rendered top heavy with uniformly plastered cement, the structure simply collapsed under its own weight when the ground shook. It is no longer viable or even practical to look at human pop-ulations and the ecosystems from a purely local standpoint; with globalisation and explosion of economic and cultural activity crossing all man-made boundaries, the way we interact with our environment is increasingly becoming global even if the origin of a disaster could be reduced to a local event. A disaster anywhere in the world has wideranging repercussions on the economic, political, cultural and psychological lives

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of communities living anywhere on the globe. The most recent example would be that of the earthquake and tsunami that has devastated Japan but whose effects resonate to far flung areas that are nowhere near ground zero. Disasters, thus, can no longer be viewed as isolated local phenomena; they are to be viewed from the prism of a more holistic medium of the global and the local − in other words, making possible what is being termed as a glocalised approach to the problem. To this end, a recent workshop on › Transculturality of Historical Disasters: Governance and the Materialisation of Glocalisation ‹ was organised by Prof. Schenk’s research group at the Max Mueller Bhavan, New Delhi. Experts from around the world came together to share their views and findings on the subject. What is the relation between na-ture and society vis-à-vis what are termed as › natural ‹ di-

as was seen clearly in the way the Indian Ocean tsunami wreaked havoc in the subcontinent in 2004. Wherever mangroves were vibrant, the coastline remained largely protected or at least suffered minimum damage. Wherever mangroves had been destroyed and the coastline was vulnerable, there was maximum damage to life, livelihood and property. So the transfer of ideas, knowledge and commodities from one region or culture to another has to be done with great sensitivity and applied in a way that synergises existing knowledge systems in affected areas, and not by replacing them with entirely new ways that have no organic presence. The striving is to institution-alise a method that would be dynamic rather than static; that would take into account both modern developments as well as include older perspectives that have grown out of ancient knowledge systems and cultural experiences that are invaluable when dealing

Disasters can no longer be viewed as isolated local phenomenon, we need to take a more glocalised approach towards it sasters like earthquakes, floods, droughts and storms? The importance of historical study and analysis of ancient ma-terials used cannot be underestimated only because they are ancient. If only a historical and cultural perspective had been adopted, it would have become obvious that to re-pair an ancient structure and preserve heritage, it would be sensible to use only those materials that were used in the first place. In the UK, restoration of monuments is largely undertaken by reconstructing the materials and technology that created them in the first place, thereby not only preserving the purity of that heritage but also ensuring their survival for longer periods. This is true not just of man-made structures but of natural habitats as well,

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with large scale catastrophic events. In this context, the value of a cluster study that invokes international expertise as well as draws from local wisdom could be immense. This way, the cluster seeks to establish a network or fund of scholarship that can handle area studies from a global perspective, which is what glo-calisation is about. Edward Simpson, senior lecturer in social anthropology at the Centre for South Asian Studies, SOAS, London, deliv-ered a keynote lecture at the Delhi workshop on the signifi-cant similarities in the way people of different religions lay blame and attribute agency in the region in the context of earthquakes. By invoking collective social memory, com-munities are able to » render the extraordinary, ordinary, « he says, pointing to the importance of drawing from com-mon sources of strength in facing large-scale disaster. Therefore, regional understanding of disasters and the lo-cal way of dealing with

them can prove to be significant in calming nerves and ensuring collective responsibility. Prof Schenk says that the network of 12 scholars in Europe studying the historical aspect of disasters is doing excellent work. He adds that disaster is only one part of research; governance and administration are being looked at in equal measure. He has two doctoral students, Kristine Chalyan-Daffner, who is studying disasters in the Middle Ages in Egypt, and Eleonor Marcussen, who is focusing on India. According to Marcussen, who has studied responses to disasters in northern Bihar in the early 20th century, it seems evident that cultural perceptions of a disaster influence reactions in its aftermath while at the same time people’s perceptions of the causes of a disaster may have only little impact on larger schemes for disaster management. » For example, after the earthquake in 1934 in Bihar people re-ferred to myths and beliefs which placed the earthquake within their worldview. This is not to say that › science ‹ or seismological theories were less important; but, in order to make sense of an extraordinary event that causes death and changes physical landscapes within seconds, the myths and beliefs seem to help people to cope with a disaster, « she adds. Prof Schenk emphasizes that global technologies plus local knowledge equals hybrid solutions. » Technical approach might have been developed in the west but we need to include local knowledge that has important lessons to teach us «, he asserts. When we cease to respect traditional systems, the outcome can be disastrous, he says, quoting a bad example of adopting western techniques in east In-dia. River embankments, an idea imported from the west, has disrupted the way riverine populations conducted their lives, without fear of floods. Similarly, big dams can be problematic, he says, especially when it leads to thousands becoming internally

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We need to institutionalise a method that would be dynamic rather than static; that would take into account both modern developments as well as include older perspectives.

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displaced people. The outcome of the workshop on the transculturality of disasters − as the two held before this one, first in Heidelberg and then in Beirut − has been to sharpen reflexes of involved persons to cultural and not just technical dimensions of di-sasters. » People don’t react the way that government and policymakers expect them to «, says Prof Schenk. Therefore it is necessary to integrate local knowledge and tradition in the region you are working on to make it efficient. Sir Bernard Feilden, celebrated British conservation architect, would repeatedly reiterate the importance of planning for the period » between disasters « – and here cultural memory and sharing of community experience across regions play pivotal roles in preparing the ground for action. The need is for a bottoms-up approach, not a top-down one. And one that takes into account all historical and cultural facts and belief systems, even if the latter are not comprehensible to some, for they have a role to play in the way disasters are dealt with and in the way individuals and communities come together to move ahead and take responsibility.

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36 Science

, y f e c w n e i e c i r f f e e mi r

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India is growing at a rapid pace. Sustainable solutions that delink economic growth from energy consumption are needed for the new infrastructure that will be built.

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rates and sacks piled all over, the ground strewn with wilted salad leaves and squashed cartons. The frenetic voices of the traders, loaders rushing to and fro – this is the Azadpur Mandi wholesale market in northwest Delhi, one of the lifelines of the Indian capital. Thou-sands of tons of fresh fruits and vegetables are traded here every day. The produce is largely delivered by trucks from the surrounding hinterland: from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. It is quite a scene. Less than two thirds of the products from the fertile plains in northern India actually reach Delhi’s wholesale market. The packaging is frequently inadequate, the trucks more of-ten than not in a sorry condition – and transportation over bumpy roads takes far too long. It is not rare for a stretch of 50 km to take five hours. » What you end up getting in the truck is tomatoes on top, puree in the middle and ketchup at the bottom, « says Vishal Sehgal, Head Corporate Rela-tions at the wholesaler Metro. Up to 40 per cent is no longer saleable. According to experts, the country’s infrastructure is seldom able to keep up with the furious pace of economic growth. » In India

the average speed of a truck is 32 km/h as com-pared to 97 km/h in Western Europe or the United States, « observes a study by the economic research institute ICRIER. Despite this, the bulk of inland logistics is borne by roads. 65 per cent of all goods are transported by trucks, while the railways account for most of the rest. The situation is similar for passenger traffic, where private passenger vehicles now account for 85 per cent. The share of buses and railways is steadily declining. In response to this, the Indian government has been focusing on building more roads. In fact, over 10 years ago the government presented a masterplan for an efficient highway network. India’s road network has now grown to be the second largest in the world, next only to that of the USA. However, the condition of roads and vehicles and the in-crease in freight and individual traffic are cause for growing concern. With rising prosperity there has also been a dramatic increase in CO2 emissions. India is currently the fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gases. In about five years, it will advance to third position behind the United States and China.

Words: Volker Müller

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One of the main objectives of the German federal government is to support India in developing efficient & environmentally sound structures Therefore, more emphasis will be laid on public transport in urban agglomerations. According to the Indian government, every city with a population of over three mil-lion should have a metro system. The technical and operational benchmark is the metro system in the capital Delhi. This sophisticated system has changed the perception of public transportation in India and was built, among others, by German companies. Munich-based Dywidag In-ternational, a subsidiary of the Austrian Strabag group, constructed key tunnel sections, while the rail technology division of Bombardier in Brandenburg supplied a majority of the metro cars. The operator consortium selected Munichbased technology multinational Siemens as partner to build a further metro track section in the upcoming industrial and administrative hub of Gurgaon. » They

understood our requirements best, and were in a position to offer the right technical solution, « says Sanjiv Rai, head of Rapid Metro Rail Gurgaon. According to him, Siemens offers first-rate technology, has had a local presence for years and comes with excellent references. Supporting India in developing efficient and environmentally sound structures is also one of the objectives of the Ger-man federal government. Peter Ramsauer, Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Development, underlined Germany’s considerations recently in April during a visit to Delhi, » In addition to transport, building and urban devel-opment, I see external economic relations as one of my main responsibilities as a federal minister. Germany is a world champion in logistics and a world leader in the construction of infrastructure as well as in energy-efficient

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technologies in the transportation sector. We are keen on sharing these technologies with our partners in India. He particularly singled out the automotive industry in this regard. During the third meeting of the Indo-German Joint Working Group (JWG) set up in 2009, in which automobile manufacturers of both countries are represented, Ramsauer turned the spotlight on sustainable technologies. He said that the German Government was specifically promoting electric mobility, which was also an area of focus to further intensify cooperation between the two countries. Germany is a strong supporter of electric mobility. Currently, there are about 1,500

electric automobiles in service on German roads. » By 2020, Germany aims to have at least one million electric vehicles operating on the roads, « Ramsauer said. That should suit India just fine. Mahindra Reva, one of the pioneers in electric passenger cars, is based in Bangalore in south India. It is now the largest supplier of its kind in the world. Volker Müller is a Delhi based business journalist and runs the correspondent office German Press India. He reports about the Indian economy regularly for leading German publications, including Die Welt, Financial Times Deutschland, WirtschaftsWoche, Capital and Spiegel Online.

During the third meeting of the Indo-German Joint Working Group (JWG), in which automobile manufacturers of both countries are represented, the spotlight was on sustainable technologies.

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40 Economy

A B C D E t r a n s l a t i o n

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n his 37-year career as a publisher in New Delhi, Pramod Kapoor has missed just one book fair in Frankfurt. » That was in the year when I launched India’s first Sun-day newspaper. It was simply not possible then, « recalls the founder of Roli Books, who religiously continues to travel to Frankfurt every October. » It’s all one big family there – and we are part of it, « says the publisher who is known primarily for his large-format coffee table books. » Over the years we have built up our own network. « He hasn’t needed agents for buying or selling titles. While the majority of his Indian colleagues focus on Great Britain and America for linguistic reasons, Kapoor targets the French and German market. » Currently there is a keen interest about India in both countries, so we are on the right track. «Others too have realised this and are training their sights westwards. » Of course we want to popularise Germany as a land of books in India. It’s a two-way street, « says Akshay Pathak. He heads the German Book Office (GBO) in New Delhi. Set up in 2008 and financed equally by the German foreign ministry and Frankfurt Book Fair, it is the hub of literary bridge-building between Germany and India. A large poster hangs at the entrance to the office: » Books are Sustenance «.Sustenance in the literal sense is also on hand at Meher-chand Market in Delhi, where the Roli bookshop is

located just next to the cafés. On entering, the first thing one sees are not Indian coffee table books but a rack holding a heavy pictorial volume on modern architecture – published by Phaidon in Berlin. » We do the distribution for Phaidon in India, « reveals Kapoor. But the business works the other way round as well. Roli has also been able to sell some of its coffee table books to German publishing houses, for instance kite-view photographs of the subcontinent, a magnificent volume on India then and now, and even a cookbook. Frederking & Thaler have over time become one of Roli’s important partners. The Goethe Institute − referred to as Max Mueller Bhavan in India − is also actively involved in promoting German literature. It has facilitated the increasingly close cooperation be-tween the Suhrkamp Verlag and Seagull Books in Kolkata. Navin Kishore, Seagull’s dedicated publisher, has bought the world rights for 28 Suhrkamp titles. » India at best wants Hesse or Brecht, « says Petra Hardt, who heads the rights and licenses division at the Berlin publishing house, » but Seagull has shown tremendous interest and commitment. « The translations for Seagull are financed by the Goethe Institute, which is naturally interested in furthering cultural ties between India and Germany. It was also the only way Indian publishing houses could afford the highly qualified but

More and more German literature gets translated into Hindi and Malayalam. Words: Christoph Hein

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42 Economy

The Kolkata book fair is considered the largest in the world with close to two million visitors

expensive translators whom the authors trusted. » We do have an interest in selling rights outside the English and British region, « says Hardt. Meanwhile, even the Hanser Verlag has started working with Seagull. » We are trying to change the traditional India-West relationship and not end up merely reprinting their original titles for the Indian market. We print books here and in the UK and distribute in the rest of the world, « says Kishore, explaining his busi-ness model to the financial newspaper Mint. The Tesloff Verlag, known for publishing children’s books, in fact set up a joint venture with Sterling Publishers in Delhi in 2009. Spokesperson Annet Hänel says, » Our books appear in In-dia in English and we use Sterling’s distribution network in African, Arabic and Southeast Asian countries. The variety of strategies matches the huge interest German publishers are showing in the Indian market. India is ranked sixth among book producing countries. Apparently about 19,000 publishing houses bring out roughly 90,000 ti-tles every year. But no one is absolutely sure. There are just 65,000 ISBN numbers. » There continues to be a dearth of data on the industry and the market, « says Pathak. But one thing does appear certain: the

market is still dominated by medium-sized family-owned publishing houses. Fol-lowing the liberalisation of the economy in 1991, however, even large international publishers are making forays into India. Random House, Hachette Livre, Harper Collins, the Penguin Group and McGraw-Hill have all come to the Gan-ges. The market today is estimated at €1.4 billion. About 40 per cent of new books are printed in English, 30 per cent in Hindi, the rest is made up of the 23 other national lan-guages. So it is not surprising that Penguin India began translating many of its bestsellers into Hindi and some of its Hindi classics into English several years ago. Overall, India is considered the third-largest producer of English titles. » English has remained the language of the elite and is widely used for the transmission of important ideas on policy and development, « says Vinutha Mallya, Senior Editor at Mapin Publishing, the leading Indian publisher for art books, based in Ahmedabad.About half of all new publications are educational books; young India is a voracious learner. The economic growth rate of 9 per cent has resulted in the wants to read. The literacy rate is 74 per cent for a population of 1.2 billion, but among the youth it is already 83 per cent. Everyone in the publishing industry knows

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that the demand is growing. In 2009 German publishers sold 98 licenses in India. In 2006, when India was guest of honour country at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the number climbed to a record 145. By way of comparison, 491 German licences went to China in 2009 and 113 to Japan. » From a purely commercial perspective, it is also an untapped market, which waits to be discovered and developed, « says Pathak.But do Indians want to read books by German authors only in English? » No, « says DC Kizhakemuri. The publisher from Kerala consequently translates them into languages that most Germans would never even have heard of. » In India the book market for languages like Bengali, Malayalam, Marathi or Tamil is at least as active as the one for English. Even the number of potential readers is much higher, « says Pathak. It is hardly surprising therefore, that the Kolkata book fair is considered the largest in the world with 1.6 million visitors. Admittedly, total print runs are still low. Translations into Hindi or other Indian languages still do not show up in the Litrix system of the Goethe Institute, Frankfurt Book Fair or the German Cultural Foundation, as opposed to titles in Arabic or Chinese. But things are changing. Trivandrum in southern India has had its own book fair for the last two years where Indian publishers can acquire licensing and translation rights into regional languages from each other. The GBO is also represented

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READER The Goethe Institute, referred to as Max Mueller Bhavan in India, is also actively involved in promoting German literature. This also helps in furthering cultural ties between India & Germany.

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44 Economy

at the fair. In Kerala, a com-munist state that is considered highly educated, people know their literature. The intellectuals here are familiar with German philosophers like Jürgen Habermas. DC Pub-lishers, named after the initials of its founder, has tapped this potential. It is publishing two volumes by German-speaking Nobel Prize winner Herta Müller as also Daniel Kehlmann in Malayalam. Suhrkamp, too, has found two women publishers who will translate their books initially into Bengali and Hindi. » But the business is slow in taking off, « feels Hardt. The barriers are high. Describing the situation and urgent need to modernise, Mallya explains, » A key factor in recent years that has worked to the disadvantage of publishing in Indian languages is the lack of appropriate computing technology. Word processors, desktop publishing, and other enabling technologies and localised IT solutions were un-available for a long time. « Kishore also criticizes that while the Bengali publishers, for example, are committed, their standard is not yet at par with the world market. » For in-stance, they have to learn to prepare their advance infor-mation of future books at least a year in advance so as to be able to circulate it at venues such as the Frankfurt Book Fair. «

And then of course there are the challenges of trans-lation. How would one translate chocolate pudding into Hindi? A chocolate pudding which no one in India knows? Pathak translated the children’s book » Lenny and Tweak « from German into Hindi. After much mulling he made the unknown pudding into mithai, or simply › sweets ‹, a finger-licking treat for every Indian child. The cultural ties between Germany and India are far older and more wide-ranging than it would seem. With regard to printing alone, India and Germany have links that go back over a hundred years. The painter Ravi Varma printed pic-tures of the icons of Indian mythology in Germany in the 1920s. At that time Germany offered a much more sophis-ticated printing technology, sharper and with brighter colours. Varma subsequently brought a German printing press to Bombay in the early 20th century. “The technical management of the press, however, was in the hands of experienced printers from Germany who were instrumental in introducing their highly organised management and work methods. Popular Indian imagery was as much influ-enced by the technical methods and stylistic conventions of these technicians, as from cheap, imported

‘Made in Ger-many’ prints,” write the art historians Erwin Neumayer and Christine Schelberger. The old German printing presses are still standing in the workshop of the painter, who is idolised in India. A recent successor to this tradition is Heidelberger Druckmaschinen who are firming up their presence on the subcontinent. The printing machine company from Heidel-berg has even opened a printing academy in Chennai that covers the entire sector including printing for packaging. Nevertheless, Roli publisher Kapoor still prefers to get the bulk of his books printed in Singapore. » We have had con-tacts there for decades so the prices are comparable. But quality and reliability are better than they are here, « says Kapoor. But this scenario is gradually changing. » We are in-creasingly trying to get our coffee table volumes printed in India. But some things are still lacking. « German publish-ers too tend to shy away from printing in India. The art book publisher Taschen from Cologne gets its books printed in Singapore and Hong Kong but not in India. While it may still take a while for printing to take off in a big way, a network of the entire publishing industry has now been built up. It started with India being the guest of honour country at the Frankfurt

Book Fair in 2006 and has been becoming increasingly close-knit. Pathak’s GBO is the nerve centre of these activities. The GBO serves as a kind of incubator of literary exchange. Of course, there is also money to be made. » But that is not our main objective. We regard the GBO as a gateway to the Indian market. We want to build up enduring and dependable relationships, « says Claudia Kaiser, who is responsible for business develop-ment at Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF). Obviously FBF is happy when Indian publishers book a stand at the fair. » We are also looking at the market in India with the objective of set-ting up a book fair, « says Kaiser. The GBO now offers semi-nars covering various aspects of the publishing industry. A five-day intensive course for senior management in the publishing industry conducted in spring was completely overbooked. In June, GBO invited Indian publishers from the » Mind, Body, Spirit « segment on a trip to Germany to link up with their German counterparts. Presumably yoga books comprised part of the luggage.Pramod Kapoor reflects, » We ourselves have not needed the German Book Office so far. « Then he pauses for a minute. » But perhaps we should try it out.

A key factor that has worked to the disadvantage of publishing in Indian languages is the lack of appropriate computing technology

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46 Culture

aamir stars in Germany

Words: Tanushree Sengupta

Each February, the German capital Berlin turns into a world film mecca with the hosting of the Berlin International Film Festival. This Year, Aamir Khan was part of the international jury.

I think that filmmaking is so subjective that it’s very difficult to be objective about cinema. The best you can do is to be honest with what you feel towards each film.

Mr. Khan, you have attended the Berlin Film Festival for the first time, and that too, as a jury member. What were your expectations when you went to Berlin and your experience at the festival? I’ve always heard so much about the Berlin Film Festival. It is certainly one of the most highly regarded festivals in the world. So, I was very keen to experience it, and I was very pleased to be invited there as part of the jury. The festival lived up to all the expectations that I had. It’s a very wellorganised festival. The entire festival was such a lovely host for us. India is known for its hospitality and warmth, but I have to say that the Berlin Film Festival was as good, if not better, as a host. Sitting on a jury with some of the most prominent international film personalities, what did you keep in mind as an Indian

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film professional while looking at the competing films at the Berlinale? I think that filmmaking is so subjective that it’s very difficult to be objective about cinema. It is a very subjective medium and each one has their own emotional response to different films and different things in the films. The best that you can do is to be honest with what you feel towards each film that you watch. That’s the best that any jury member can do and that’s what I tried to do – I just tried to stay honest with what I felt towards the films that I was watching. As you know, Bollywood films are extremely popular in Ger-many. They sell an exotic image of India. But what is your opinion on the potential of opening up the German and European film markets to the regional and art-house films from India, that are a portrayal of the real India?

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I found Germans to be very warm and friendly. That’s something I can straightaway. The next time I come here, I’d like to see Berlin and experience it better.

I have to say that in my experience people, across the world – and this is for people in the US, in other countries in Europe and other parts of the world – I find that the audiences for art-house cinema, no matter which part of the world it’s coming from, is a fairly limited au-dience. In Germany also, I would imagine strictly an art-house audience would be a small audience. My personal experience has been that when I was in Berlin for those 12 – 15 days, every day there was a mob of girls outside my hotels and outside theatres where the screenings were happening, waiting to take my photographs and autographs. And in my interaction with them, I realised that these young girls are audiences of mainstream Indian cinema. They watch all our mainstream films, they enjoy Bollywood films. A num-ber of them have travelled from outside Berlin to come to meet me. You must remember it was very cold over there – minus 10, minus 15 on certain days. And they would wait for 4 – 5 hours outside the hotel to meet me. Based on all of this, I am assuming that it is a growing audience in Ger-many for mainstream Indian cinema. They (the fans) were constantly saying, » We want more Indian films to reach us. « But all of

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them (Indian films) don’t, because Indian cinema doesn’t have a smooth pipeline of distribution as yet. In the US we have a smooth pipeline of distribution. All our films release in the cities where a lot of Indians live. But here it’s not Indians, here it’s Germans actually who want to watch Indian films. They kept telling me, » Please try and see to it that a distribution set-up is in place so that we get to watch all the films. Your home production › Peepli Live ‹ was released last year in Germany, and your latest production › Dhobi Ghat ‹ is also due for release in Germany soon. What response did › Peepli ‹ get? The response for › Peepli ‹ from the distributor of our film Stefan – his company is called Rapid Eye – was not very good. He mentioned that the business was much lower than what he had expected. Of course, Kiran, me and him – all three of us were disappointed with the response. Now › Peepli ‹ is, as I was saying, an art-house film. So maybe the audience that watches mainstream Indian cinema did not go for it. Let’s see how it goes for › Dhobi Ghat ‹. Do you also foresee co-productions with film boards or production houses in

February 2012

Germany coming up under your banner? There have been a number of enquiries and scripts that have been sent to me for that purpose. I promised to read those scripts and if something excites me or interests me then I would definitely go ahead with that. What have been your experiences of Germany when you’ve travelled in the country, this time and on your earlier visits? I found the people very warm and friendly. That’s something I can say straight away. But I have to say that I was very much limited to the festival this time, be-cause

I was trying to stay just within those films that I was supposed to watch. I didn’t even get to visit Berlin. My wife did travel quite a bit – she managed to see Berlin to a cer-tain extent. I didn’t at all, because of my responsibility as a juror. My wife went and saw some of the museums and art and architecture, and she was praising it a lot. She said, » I wish you’d come with me. « So certainly I would like to go back, this time just to visit and see Berlin and experience it better. Tanushree Sengupta, a communication professional, works at the German Information Centre in New Delhi

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