Kiran Shantaram: A Chip of the Old Block

Kiran V. Shantaram (born: June 26, 1943), the present chairman of the Foundation, is a noted producer, director, studio and theatre owner who, for the last half-a-century, has been closely associated with many trade and welfare activities of the Hindi and Marathi film industries. Over the years he has spearheaded the challenge to solve the financial and economic problems of the Marathi film industry, particularly those linked to the distribution and exhibition sectors. He was also instrumental in obtaining an exemption of entertainment tax for a period of five years for all multiplex theatres in Maharashtra.

He has always been on the vanguard of the struggle to take better cinema to the people through film societies and film festivals. For long he was associated with the film society movement and is today the President of the Federation of Film Societies of India. Under the auspices of the FFSI he is attempting to create a film society in every district of Maharashtra. He also wants to ensure that every college in Maharashtra has a film society so that film culture can be inculcated at the earliest age. Apart from cinema his general cultural awareness is reflected in the fact that he has been appointed by the Government of India as a member of the Executive Council of the Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan.

He is also the moving sprit behind two of the largest privately sponsored film festivals: The Mumbai Academy of Moving Image & the Asian Film Festival, both of which he co-founded. The Asian Film Festival is held annually in October since 2002. He has also participated in film festivals and trade fairs all over the world, notably Berlin, Venice, Cannes, Los Angeles, London and Dubai.

His association with films began half-a-century ago when he entered the motion picture industry in 1961 as an assistant to his father, the legendary pioneering flmmaker V. Shantaram, during the making of Navrang and assisted him in all his films thereafter till the 1980s when he took over as General Manager of the sprawling Rajkamal Kalamandir Studio at Parel. After the death of his father in 1990 he took over the reins of his father's production companies, Plaza as also the prestigious V. Shantaram Motion Picture Scientific Research & Cultural Foundation which he manages to this day.

Outside the film arena he is known for his social and welfare activities. He has been the Sheriff of Mumbai for two consecutive terms and is presently the President of the Peoples Health Organization (India). During his two terms as the Sheriff he has worked tirelessly towards improving, the lot of prisoners in the 'Jails in Mumbai' particularly worked towards rationalization of their salaries. He also initiated a number of activities directed at children and senior citizens, namely,