Wednesday, November 28, 2007

P


The title may sound like Fritz Lang's M, but it is no where related to the great film maker’s masterpiece. So, then, who is P, you may ask? He is a man, no greater than a man, no greater than other, but no other is greater than he. Moreover, unlike Orsen Welles mystery Rosebud, P is lot cooler and alive in flesh and blood. Perhaps to better illustrate and explain the man, the one person he resembles not in size but in his contribution to cinema is Henri Langlois. Though both their path’s and their methodology are different, but one thing that binds them is their passion and love for the medium.

I bumped into P in a very peculiar fashion; I was wandering around in search for Ozu and his works, after having read the Tokyo Story review by Roger Ebert. It was way back during my 12th standard board exams, while the rest of my classmates were busy studying Physics. I was busy reading film reviews and articles between those thick science books. No wonder I barely managed to pass my 12th board exams, but marks mattered a shit to me. And even today in college it never does. Though, to my parents it does, and that’s shitty, but they have their reasons. However, during that period, what I learnt about Ozu and cinema meant more than the entire science book could ever teach.

Yasujiro Ozu was my hero, my god, and beside a picture of Che Guvera, I had his picture stuck on my door. I remember my mother getting a shock of her life, when one fine morning she saw me holding incense stick in my hand, and praying to these two pictures. ( Well, I didn’t know about 400 blows then). The cinema bug was already smitten deep within me; I knew I had to find his movies and each day as I read more, the enthusiasm to watch his movies increased. One fine day, as I was on the look out for Ozu and his works, I was standing beside a woman at a shop, and I overheard her saying, 'Fellini' and 'Ozu', I was frozen for a second, and then I mustered all my courage to talk to her, luckily she turned out to be a teacher who taught cinema at a prestigious institution in the country. She wore a black coat and had huge dark glasses, and clearly resembled Bridgett Lin from Chungking Express, except for the golden hair. In retrospect, she seemed more of the intellectual-socialite-sari-wearing-big-bindi-aunty more than anything else. She didn’t show much happiness in talking to me, and quickly walked through the halls and corridors, I decided to follow her for unknown reason, and landed at the Mecca.

P has been a great source for providing tons of cinephile and genuine movie lovers with the access of rare, obscure, latest art house movies. Beside his stockpile of original movies is something to be believed. From Criterion Collection, Arte, Artisan, Tartan, Artificial Eye you name it, P has it. Now the million dollar question arises. Is P promoting piracy? Technically speaking “ yes”, but if you look at the whole scenario of living in India and being able to get an access to this movie, I would say hell no. Not only that, P is living, breathing collector of “ORIGINAL” movies. His love for Cinema prompts him to share rather than Pirate. Piracy is mass making and selling, which he never does, he barely must be recovering the cost for the original which he purchases and imports. And in the land of trashy and half baked movies, P is the only source of good cinema.

People could cry foul, but that’s not the case, for those people would never understand what it means for young cinephile and cinema lovers across all age to watch movie’s of great filmmaker and have an access to them. What it means, to get an access to this movies, I fail to express it in words. If those companies and individual who are against such acts, they should all open stores in India, and nominate P as the head, and I’m sure he would sell more genuine copies of the movies, then one could imagine.

He purchases original movies, shares his ideas and insight’s on Cinema and genuinely prompts Cinema. Besides, above all, for all those people who can afford the originals he has made sure to stock enough of it too. Henri Langlois preserved and shared and showcased movies at the Cinematheque, he had the help and support of great people like Georges Franju, Jean Mitry Georges Melies and the government. We have none of that here, except the contribution of one man to promote the movies of luminaries and make sure that people who appreciate Cinema has access to them, and all from his own little private funds.

Unlike most snobbish pseudo-intellectual artist and people around here, P is soft-spoken and genuinely speaks very less. He is a man of faith and passion, and he is a man of Cinema. Just day before yesterday, I asked him why he doesn’t have a strong documentary collection, he said, he didn’t have a thorough insight on documentaries. And asked me to tell him about few good documentaries and stuff which he should watch and collect. If the Cahier Du Cinema gang grew up at the Cinematheque I can proudly say that I have grown up watching movies presented by P. And I’m sure here there are tons of other people who have come across this person. For him Cinema is life, and life is Cinema he puts every ounce of his earning into purchasing movies from across the globe. And providing it for cinema lovers, he is a messiah. Lot of people must be thinking he must be making big bucks from the movie he sells, but recent words with him revealed how he hardly makes money, but invest each penny in getting the best. And I would certainly agree with him.

If Godard, Truffaut and people could storm the streets to protect Henri Langlois from being sacked, we would do the same thing if something of happens with P. Perhaps, we all are waiting for the time when we can join hands and together promote cinema, and help P walk out of the dingy place, into a Cinematheque of our own, and move beyond the clouds of red-tapism and snobbish intellectual which clouds our heartland. Till then fight will be on, and the day is not faraway when P will be sung as a hero, by the New Wave Indian Filmmakers to come.



Monday, November 26, 2007

Dr Wikipedia: How he saved millons from flunking in their exams, and popularized Cut, Copy And Paste.


OMG! Wikipedia is gone! I’ll flunks my exams! I really love this quote on the Wikipedia website which is asking people for donations. Somewhere down the line it’s very true that the online encyclopedia has become a cultural phenomenon with CUT/COPY and PASTE. Now, I don’t have a clue how much teachers, lecturers abroad look into the thesis or practical work submitted by the students. But as far as our Indian colleges and schools are concerned, no one is bothered.

First of all, I have failed to understand the value of giving assignments to students in colleges here, as none of the assignments are ever read by the teachers, because they all know that the source from where the student is doing such hard work is the Internet. No wonder, even prestigious universities in India, such as the IITs, and JNU ever feature in the top universities list in the world. The problem does not lie with the student, but with the overall teaching methodology of our Indian Universities, and the way they operate and function. Besides the parameters for judging such things are always confusing. I’m no educationist , but I do feel as a college student, that a certain amount of reform is needed in our education system.

I remember my friend who is doing an engineering course from a prestigious institution in the country telling me that, even at the end of his college he still hasn’t learned much; except mugging and puking on the paper to get marks. Perhaps we do produce quality engineers in our country, but we do lack innovators. People who are taught to look beyond the security of being another brick in the wall instead of trying to carve out their name, and scream, well, I’m gonna have my kicks before this shit goes up in flames.

Though if you see it from another perspective, I totally understand how a guy who comes from a middle class or even upper middle class family would find it difficult to take a plunge for innovation, and go gung-ho about entrepreneurship or creationism. Mind you, there are exceptions everywhere, but exceptions don’t make the rules. Beside I bet all of us deep within do strive to be millionaires or create something, but sometimes, even the dreams are poised with restriction. You say your friend, family, or someone you know plans to do X, Y or Z, which is completely different from you’re trade, a packet full of discouragement will be blasted on you. Reminds me of an episode from Naruto, where the villain quips he has his own dreams, to which the protagonist replies, but to dream you need to have a future, as your future is all used up, perhaps, our future are all used too, but who is the villain and who is the hero in life is intoxicating. Man over society, society over man.

In retrospect, do I really utilize the vast resources and information the internet provides us. Perhaps usage varies from person to person, a subjective terrain, but what happens when all of us are connected and we form a network of subjective opinion, where does the question of objectivity lie? As far as I’m concerned the Internet has been a major source of learning even more than what I learned in school or college. And Wikipedia has been one of the major sources of learning, and not pasting, yet again, it boils down to individual and how they use the highway.

LE GAI SAVIOR LE GAI SAVIOR LE GAI SAVIOR
(If you want to understand what’s written, please learn the language.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Soft Conversations on Hard Subjects

The blank page is a true mirror of a man - it makes you think, think and think. And think more. Similarly, the first step, the first day, the first kiss, is always scary, yet there is something very special about it. So what do these two lines have to do with the rest of my post - absolutely nothing? It was just the first thought, and as Jack Kerouac said: “The first thought is always the best thought”. Then Hell yeah!

It’s always confusing determining what to write in your first post, as a matter of fact each day on the blog, but like all seers of art say- Write what you know. Now I had tried starting and maintaining a blog couple of years back, but it’s easy to take off, but hard to keep the plane in flight, sooner or later most blogs come crashing down the runaway. And so did my first every foray into blogging. Since the last disaster, I have always thought (everyone who is smitten by the net bug, carries this desire in his heart, to start a blog - someday), Now after nearly three-four years, Flight 180 has taken off again. This whole flight and runaway thing remind me of Wong Kar Wai movies, where his concept of two lovers being a plane and runaway fascinated me a great deal. After all, the plane can land and take off any time they want, but when the run away decides to become the plane, the relationship is in crisis. It’s just a thought, but interesting nonetheless.

My mother says I have never grown up, I grew up reading comics, playing video games, watching movies, and till date those are the only things I do besides reading books on Cinema. And thinking about imaginary scripts and titles, déjà vu, boy meets girl. The notion of having an easy career, and a fun one, sometime really makes my blood boil, when people say me that “Oh, this is not studies, its fun”. Damn, what do most people really know about Cinema? And do they really care, what is cinema, all people care what color socks Shahrukh Khan wears, and how Saif Ali Khan shoved up Karenna’s ass.

Cinema could have changed the world, but it was engulfed by capitalism, and cinema died the day Jaws was released, and blockbuster movies started. Today, it still operates but as Jean Luc Godard said, all such cineaste lie in a sick hospital which one day would crumble and fall if we don’t stick and fight. Most countries have had their fair share of New Wave in art form over the years; even we Indians had our New Wave of Cinema in 70’s. However, since then, Indian Cinema has taken a tour-de-force. If today Bollywood has gone global, it’s only because some Indian in a remote corner of the world is paying to watch the movie, but is that what we call global?

Friends, Romans, Countrymen….If Sajid Khan can make movies, then everyone one of us can make movies, but I guess we have forgotten what is creation. After all, it’s easy to pick up a camera and shoot, and you’re a filmmaker. But to create something, as Godard quipped is what cinema all about. I like the fact the Jack Kerouac wrote whatever thought poured in his mind, and not cared about the classical norms of structure and dramaturgy.

Similarly let my first post is as fragmented, elliptical as a Hou Hsien Hou movie. And let the structure and rules go hay-wire, because that’s what Godard taught me. In the end, quote as you please, borrow as you please, as it doesn’t matter where your inspiration comes from, what matter is where you take them to. And that’s what all matters today - Originality is non- existent, and the great authors ain’t dead, Monsieur Barthes. And the day I saw Godard’s video work, Soft Conversation on hard subject on YouTube, I knew the seeds of modernism had blossomed and we were riding high on the ecstasy of post modernism.






Fundamental Rights

1) If Sajid Khan can make movies, Pappu, Tom, Dick, Harry, Chintu, Bantu, Ajay and Vijay, everyone can, and everyone should.

2) If Shobha De can write and be a best-selling author, all guys and girls pick your pens, and start gossiping.

3) If Shri, Shri, Shri, Sudarshan Maharaj, and all other Babas the so called multi millionaire saints of India can preach, we all should preach.

4) If Tusshar Kapoor can become an actor, we all should become an actor.

5) If every other actor, socialite, model becomes a painter, we all should be able to sell our own painting.

6) People should be banned from wearing Che Guevara t-shirts who absolutely have no clue about the man and his sacrifice, except that it looks cool.

7) A new breed of political ideologies should be infused in the minds of the Left; Mr Prakash Karat could you please stand up.

8) If Himmesh Reshamiya can sing, well…

9)

10)