New Delhi : Mauritius has ample opportunities for Indian filmmakers since it has excellent locales and all infrastructural facilities, the Mauritian High Commissioner Mookhesswur Choonee said today. Presiding over a panel discussion on “Mauritius: An attractive destination for filmmakers,” he said that several Indian filmmakers had in fact made films in the island nation which was like a bridge between Asia and Africa.

He said the present government had in a major policy decision placed a creative art as a part of the Industry Ministry and also increase investment for this purpose. As a result, Mauritius was promoting theatres, art galleries, recording studios, and event management groups. Earlier speaking at the discussion which was part of the ongoing Pravasi Film Festival, senior filmmaker and critic, K. Bikram Singh made a fervent plea to the Mauritian government technical manpower so that Indian filmmakers did not have to take technical personals from here while shooting films. He also said that it was important for the island nation to develop relations with private Indian television channels so that adequate publicity can be given to the facilities available in Mauritius. He said merely having good locations was not enough if there was no marketing for them.

The competitive festival had been organized by the Pravasi Today Group in association with the the Mauritian government at the India Habitat Centre from the 3rd to 6th January. Around 35 films from different countries are being screened and a large number of filmmakers from the Diaspora has come to attend the event. Mr Mahendra Utchchane, a former minister in the Mauritian government, said Indian filmmakers had been coming to the island nation since the time of Sir Seewoosagar Ramgoolam, who had taken personal interest in providing all facilities to filmmakers from here. In fact, in the 90s, a galaxy of Indian filmmakers and stars had visited Mauritius for shooting of their films.

Mr Utchchane urged the present Mauritian government to enable the Mauritius Film Development Corporation (MFDC) to collaborate with India and had also helped to promote film from his country here. Ms Sarita Budhoo, a well known writer known in India for her work “Kanyadaan” said Mauritius was influenced by Bollywood, Hollywood and French films, but the average Mauritian preferred films from this country as her nation was like a little India with a little bit of the culture of other countries.

Mauritian author Anand Maloo said Mauritius was a multi cultural and a multi ethnic country with many similarities with India and therefore promoting ventures in the island nation would not be very difficult. He agreed that Indian TV channels should give greater coverage to the Diaspora issues. “We need interaction, he said.

Member of Indian Parliament Arjun Rai said Mauritius comprised almost entirely of a population that had had descended from Indians who had been taken by the British almost two centuries earlier. Therefore, it would not be difficult for Mauritius to attract Indian filmmakers in preference over those from other countries.

Festival Co Director Pankaj Dubey said that agreement had been reached for launching a co production between Indian and Mauritius filmmakers. The awards will be given for the best feature film, the best documentary and the best short film category. The Feature Film Jury is headed by veteran filmmaker Basu Chatterjee while the Non Feature Jury has renowned critic Latika Padgaonkar as Chairperson. Other members of the Feature Film Jury are filmmakers Rahul Rawail and Sanjay Singh, eminent critic Aruna Vasudev who is also the Festival Advisor, and critic Namrata Joshi. Other members of the Short Film Jury are Film Historian Lalit Mohan Joshi and senior critic Utpal Borpujari.

Pravasi Today, with its presence in around 125 countries is a platform for the Indian Diaspora to exchange views on various issues. Team Pravasi Today has also been successfully organizing many international festivals for seven years and has organized cultural exchange programmes between Indian and European countries.

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