Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Filmmaker, Fanboys and Cinephiles debate


Anyone remotely interested in Indian cinema and the nature of film-love in the country should read this discussion. The discussion is taking place at Passion for Cinema community blog.

I think, I don’t need to state facts or my own opinions to point out- who is right or who is wrong-as the evidence is in the discussion. Wonder, what Bazin would have made of such confluence of ideas and perception on cinema.

In the end, I’m happy, that slowly but steadily the ideas of discussion/questioning would become an important proposition in Indian Cinema. To sow the seeds in establishing a critical school of thought for our films and pave a path for a new generation of filmmakers.




A little background
(on the discussion)

Anurag Kashyap is an Indian film director and writer. He is best known for as the scriptwriter of the 1998 film Satya and as the director of Black Friday, a controversial film about the 1993 Bombay bombings.He is also the member of International Film And Television Club of Asian Academy Of Film & Television.Noida Film City.

(Source:wikipedia)

His article is about his upcoming film
Dev D, which set-off a debate from the bunch of cinephiles whom as one can identify are from this blog.

We also appreciate director Anurag Kashyap's effort to respond, because in a country where the critic-director communication is restricted to pleasantries and snide remarks, this may very well be the start of a trend.

Our stance:-

Indian cinema needs to undergo a reinvention in order to become global identity. To enforce/inform an emphasis on mise-en-scene. And to subsequently question, examine and criticize.


The Rest:-

The Debate.

22 comments:

HarryTuttle said...

Interesting discussion indeed. There is obviously hope for a wind of change. Way to go nitesh! :)

nitesh said...

Thanks for the feedback Harry on the discussion and here. Means a lot, the journey is long and rough ahead. But should be fun. Just like to rephrase what I wrote there on PFC:-

"We talking to improve you talking to deprive, but the hour of departure has arrived: be it today, tomorrow or twenty years form today- don’t worry this time once and for all, we not giving up."


People think we gonna run away, but we want. Just hoping to grow, learn and believe in the fact that everyone would do so.

If Bazin can think he was wrong and change...I'm sure no one is film guru in the world then.

Shubhank said...

Crap...moderators on fire.
Not accepting any new posts...

btw they have removed the link from you name ... what the hell??

nitesh said...

Thanks for the comment Shbuank.

I was not aware of that, but its not right that people are doing something like that. Seriously, I mean we been clear with our stance, but people are trying to hide than behind economy and audience.

Srikanth said...

Holy cow, what a discussion... Read every post just now. Thanks for the link.

"...stop pulling-down someone who’s trying to do good and bring about a change..."
---WTH, What is the measure of "good". Its like telling that a person has found a new gateway, without even knowing what was old. Do they mean No Smoking? I believe, Kashyap won in No Smoking - not as the director, but as the producer. He could have funded a much honest attempt instead of being deliberately over the head.
And by all means, good has to be brought only with conflict and opposition. If there was no Bose, we wouldn't have appreciated Gandhi. If "good" was unanimous, it would have already occurred. And if the conviction of the film maker that he is doing good is so strong, he shouldn't be pulled down by criticism at all. And even if there was a doubt, the filmmaker should be open to change his ideas. And all this can occur only with criticism/discussion. If everyone thinks he is doing good, he would already be the best.

"...don't talk and go make a film..."
---As natural a reaction as blinking right?

These are the things that are precisely the problems. Too much complacency, too much fear of novelty and too much laziness. These guys have traded free thought for free speech. People are so closed that rather than analysis and introspection, the shun the idea and judge the person himself. They want to maintain cinema as it is by behaving so, even as they say that "Indian cinema is going to the dogs", "SRK-YRF" etc etc. I don't know why, but I'm reminded of Solaris. They want to progress but at the same time fear dissent and opposition. Kashyap is doing a great thing by coming into the wild, but his stubbornness contradicts the purpose itself. I'm also suspicious about his stand on film theory. I feel that one can break out of theory only if he knows it inside out, like the point on tradition you made.

I hope that such discussions are not just byproducts of controversial posts but deliberately take place somewhere. And I find your blog to be a good collection of such thought chains. Sigh, so much to learn and rethink.

supriasuri said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Srikanth said...

The reason I didn't post there is that I did not want to perpetuate an already dead discussion. Let people fight it out for the last post if they consider that to be The Last Word.

Prejudices will remain prejudices. Unless it poses itself against them.

nitesh said...

Thanks for the feedback Srikanth.

I second that to whatever you wrote. Agree wholeheartedly, because they calling us by names and abuses, irrespective of the fact that we not talking about them but the medium. And are interested in that change.

Interesting analogy from Solaris. I think you should post what you feel not only here but even at their face because to them it feels just two or three people have this opinion.

Beside, I just don't get it why can’t they be open to learning. As far as we are concerned( as an upcoming collective) in the coming months with more members, we definitely pushing what we believe in, and this discussion is just the beginning of a small tiny hole that I know wee need to fight in the long run for a change in perspective. Because it came as a surprise that people at PFC( who call themselves promoter of cinema) find it hard to take things.

Yeah, and history seems useless to them, pretty shocking stuff.

nitesh said...

Well..true srikanth, couldn't agree more, that's why I stayed away from posting on personal attack junks that would no value or substance. If AK replies than its something else, because he seems to be the only who is trying to reason, make sense, and yes for time-being listen.

Sachin said...

Hey Nitesh,

some discussion all right. I am sorry I have not read all the posts yet but from what I saw, there were quite a few remarks where people are offended that anyone has the right to criticize a certain director, in this case Anurag. It amazes me that criticism is often viewed as something negative. I have often seen people get upset that someone dare say something about a certain film-maker, which is usually followed by the remarks that unless one had made a film, they have no idea how much work is involved, the struggle, etc.

Interestingly, this debate is not restricted just to film. I have often found myself in discussions where someone is upset with the decision of a soccer manager, then someone else points that unless one has ever managed a real soccer team, they should shut up. Huh? In the most common example, I have seen some Arsenal fans who believe that Arsene Wenger is beyond criticism and nothing should be questioned. Even if there are mistakes that Wenger has made, some fans are quick to point that the past achievements of Wenger means that he is beyond questioning and things will eventually work out. Similarly, there are people who believe that some directors have reached a point where no one can question anything they do.

Although, glad to see you and some of the others trying to keep the discussion to cinematic relevance and even trying to get a healthy debate going. The first time I came across Passion for Cinema was when I read about Anurag's feelings regarding the more than negative slander he got for No Smoking. What amazed me about a lot of the so called reviews were most of them were busy criticizing Anurag as opposed to anything to do with the film.

I think in the USA a lot of such debate happened regarding The Dark Knight and if any critic voiced intelligent opinions which went against the grain, they were slammed by fanboys.

In the end, whatever is happening on that forum is getting a reaction from people, some better than others. This does offer hope as it means there are people who are still willing to have such debate about films. And good to see Anurag leaving plenty of comments as well.

nitesh said...

Thanks for the comments Sachin. At the end of the day it seems like Anurag and his brigade are not ready to see things at all. They keep repeating go make film, then prove, it's like saying Sarris.go make a film then talk about criticism.

Whatevr be it, for us, as a collective it was a good experience to see how stone headed this people were. And why our cinema reamains so complacent and like the article on criticism you wrote they are happy talking good about each other.

srikanth said...

Again I did not want to continue the discussion there. That's why putting here.

I had a bit of respect for AK but that is gone.

This guy comes to PFC to just condescend on the audience and thinks "amuse me with your cinematically inferior brains. You guys are not to be taken seriously anyway."

I just wanted to do a montage of his last 3 comments:

"Stop talking and get to work or else will hear about you too doing some shit like that.."

"i did not hate the short.. i wish i hated it.. i was just indifferent."

"...and man are you guys confused, and contradictory. and..."

LOL, speak about escapism.

Someone said that this is the guy who had frailties worn on his sleeve.

It shows

Sachin said...

Nitesh, I thought of something else regarding this entire "go make a film before criticizing argument."
How do cricket debates go in India? I have not been to any cricket forum but I know that some of the cricket players are treated as gods yet the Indian cricket team also gets flak when it plays badly. But do people slam journalists who try to show problems with the team? Are most cricket debates just about how useless a player was or how good a player played? Or do all fans think they can hit a sixer or are better than the players, so they are free to criticize?

I mention this because if intelligent debates don't happen with cricket, then I can understand why film is no different as most people still see film as entertainment. Yet I know there are serious cricket buffs out there and I have met some of them but I am not sure if they are in the minority or not.

And if an Indian film-maker makes a film which does not go well with the audience, then the director gets abused. And in some cases, the director blames the intelligence of the audience for not getting the film. Just seems there is too much blame out there. Ofcourse, the easiest example I can think of is Anurag's No Smoking. Best I remember the abuse directed towards Kaizad Gustad for Boom which honestly was way over the top. The movie was criticized for all the wrong reasons (some people called it obscene or even pornography) and mostly I remember reading quite nasty comments about Gustad.

Anonymous said...

Posting here since most of my comments were rejected by the moderators of PFC.
This one was for Anurag.


I used to have tremendous respect for you simply because of your willingness to share thoughts about your films (and others) and interact with the audience.
I have nothing against you promoting your films, after all hey, this is your blog.

You are an exciting film maker to watch and most (if not all) of the films you have worked on are well written. The comments I heard here, on IMDB and while talking to a lot of people are something every director would be proud of but doesn't it make you feel hollow when none of those comments actually evaluate the movie on the basis of its cinematic value?

Coming back to the point, I was enjoying the discussion till the point someone posted the link for Anuj's short film; which was inevitable. The reaction was predictable. The film while high on the technical aspects (mise-en-scene) ... using the plant in different planes; the lighting and the colour of the clothes --- at least I thought it was interesting --- wasn't something that any regular movie goer would enjoy.
Yes, it did have qualities of experimental films which most mass-comm or cinema students shoot. Yes, it did seem like a practical exam from a film theorist for anyone who expects the films to be 'entertaining'.

But, what is with the comments you had for the film?
What is stopping you from making an objective analysis and then attacking the film maker?
Are you not technically competent enough to evaluate and then post a constructive feedback?
Or is it your ego (boosted by the fanboys) which rules on your head?
Maybe as a busy person you do not have time to analyse the movie, but you do have time to praise yourself, crib about the criticisms that 'No Smoking' attracted and ride high on the support of the same fanboys.

Agreed you were, for a lack of better words, "pissed off"; which made you post most of the comments. But that doesn't encourage a film maker, or any creative person.
As someone who is mildly creative, enjoys designing video games (yes, I do think they are a form of art) it is always helpful if someone who probably has more experience, has been in the relevant industry, comes forth, dissects the different elements and presents a feedback which not only address the shortcomings but also boosts myself to do better next time.

Anyway, most of my comments have been rejected by the moderators who still think that Kenny (with his comment #224) and lot others are adding something valuable to the discussion.

nitesh said...

Thank you for the comment sachin and srikanth. I’m not able to understand few things, and one of the first is why people are so hostile to take opinions and express in a right spirit and manner. They seemed to dismiss what we say as: arrogance, wrong, no views of life, age and everything and anything they can find without forming a logical argument/opinion.

Here is a comment by Anurag Kashyap:-

it’s become boring.. i m neither angry nor finding it funny.. really.. get a life three of you.. get laid, you will learn more cinema there.. just don’t burden the woman with your ideas or else that will end up too, in the same zone.. nowhere..

Francisx said...

Mr. Kashyap was talking nicely initially, but fanboys were lame. and then he showed his true colors. LOL. I tried making a comment too. All I had written was "Seems like Mr.Kashyap is having hard time promoting his film here." but it didnt get posted.

Shripriya said...

Take this as free advice from someone who's not anyone's fanboy (or fangirl to be more precise).

You guys say you want to create change. Great. But let's see how you tried to do it:
1. You started attacking a random post by Anurag from tangential angles ("why are you posting about how Deol conveyed the idea to you"??)
2. Once you engaged him, you took off in different tangents.
3. You never addressed the core issues and instead kept coming up with new ones.

And finally, my own pet peeve, there was definitely a huge tone of arrogance.

Now... all that is fine... if you want to accomplish nothing with one of the largest audiences on the web. Do you think you can change hearts and minds with the attitude you guys came with?

And here on this blog - more self-congratulation and backslapping. Why? What did you accomplish? Almost nothing.

Instead you could have had a constructive conversation you really wanted! Now THAT would have been really interesting.

But to do that, you have to actually be willing to listen and to concede points. And you have to drop the arrogance.

Let's be real - none of us (me included) have achieved much in the film world. Talk is, at the end of the day, cheap. When you come from that position, trying to have a respectful but challenging conversation is much better than being arrogant.

Anyway - I'm sure you'll all get into your cluster, slam me, dismiss this comment and move on to your group hug, but if you really want to change things, it is worth at least considering what I said.

nitesh said...

Thank you for your comment shripriya.

I do understand which tangent and different angle you talking about just that it’s not the right one. The people whom you so lovingly write about and defend are the same people who are not willing to listen. And to talk about arrogance… if to see things in the right manner is arrogance, so be it. If to ask someone to provide constructive criticism against someone film is arrogance, so be it? If to ask someone what is uniqueness of the medium too arrogance, so be it. Just that there has never been a ‘school of thought’ and cinephiles in India who are getting to seriously look at them doesn’t mean we people are bunch of fools.

Second,go and read again if you please, what I wrote, did I write that we can’t learn or we cannot accept view, but people out there behave like mob whose understanding is next to nothing. So please I suggest go and read again what constructive criticism, information did they provide against their films or films in general? Or do u suggest this as there valued points:-

1) Go make a film first then criticize.

2) Cinema is about money, producer, economy, handwork..so please don't criticize.

3) Theory is theory it doesn't make films or let' say criticism.

Let me add more thing... I love Indian cinema. And I know cinema does not exist in vacuum it’s has its rich history, tradition and culture to define, look or talk about things. So please do pin-point me what are the great cinematic values they were giving in return to the dialogue? That you call us arrogant?

So with due respect to you and people you support I have nothing to say, except, it’s disheartening to see that people who are supposedly filmmakers and harbingers of good cinema of the country are not willing to engage in the right manner or willing to see things. They are right and I’m happy they know they are right.

And to talk about never addressing to the core? I suggest you read it again and tell me what was I talking about- some alien concept? Or just cinema? Or some other view or address? Just because people have a generalized vocabulary about the medium per se, that everyone else seems pretentious, intellectual or plain stupid, moron right?


Do you think I bother that you people would read us or not? Definitely no, because if someone can’t accept, learn, or help shows the paths in right manner forget gaining their readership. It’s better to educate 100 percent of 10 people than 10 percent to 100 people I know my way is not better. But that’s how it is and I’m happy.

Oh…self congratulation and backslapping? Do u think we people are lame ducks and what you say and everyone said there was cinematic genius? Or you think the people who comment here are my “fans”, and don’t know nuts about the medium.

I suggest first in full love for the medium go correct facts. And second for any kind of the “constructive” criticism you advocate I seriously suggest you go and teach those people the willingness to listen and accept the truth.

Not slamming you, No group hug, but a sheer despair and sadness because if a place(PFC) is supposedly called “ people who know about the medium” and are mature, but they are sadly much closer to the PSP and Xbox fan boys it’s sad for the rest of the country.

So not considering anything what you said, because you misunderstood what I had to say taking everything from: age, arrogance, money into consideration without even once thinking what I’m talking about?

In the end...more than you I prefer to be an eternal student..you people are professional we are amateurs, but even in this naiveness there is a sense of discovery and freshness and a willingness to accept and learn.

And the day you see the truth, I'm sure you will become much younger, and that's the magic and love for the medium people seem to lack.

Anuj said...

Shipriya

"3. You never addressed the core issues and instead kept coming up with new ones."
Sure. Do read the forum again. We can then have a more refined discussion as to what actually happened there.


As to our trying to create publicity. Sure. Atleast we are not praising each other. Atleast we are putting on display whatever little skills we have and then letting them judge as to whether they want to read or not. Promotion was not even an agenda. And EVEN if it was, promotion through an actual display of ability, and not through hype created by exploiting popular interest, is justified.

As far as the criticism of the blogpost is concerned, it was not tangential, but very reasonable. Yes, it included the observation of a general trend, but it was not a personal attack or something outside the scope of such criticism.

Anyways, people there treated us with not only criticism, for that would have hurt, but disdain, detest and discarded us, and that did not hurt. What remained discernible was this fear of losing something that they had held onto, for long, which is understandable. PFC moderated most of our supporters and our posts, so really, there is a resistance to any change in their status quo.

Anyways, we are not backslapping and congratulating each other, as one might think. Infact, if you met us in person, you will discover that we are both shaken, and overwhelmed by the contempt. We do not look at the exercise as an achievement, but as a lesson.

I have no personal issues to have against Mr.Kashyap, and I should be irrelevant, ideally, to matter to him at a personal level. I maintain that there will be objective criticism in the future as well.

Thanks. And no, I respect your coming here and making your feelings, howsoever misinformed, known.

Shripriya said...

Guys, I'll end this here, but let me say this.

Both Nitesh and Anuj say
"Read again" - why should I? I read every single comment and once is enough if I can read well and I can. So don't be condescending. Or do you not see that as condescending?

You never said you would not learn, but you also never really showed you listened to anything. So, saying is one thing, but showing it in your words is another.

I never defended anyone and so you have no right to tell me I did. Show me once where I said what anyone said was right? You are accusing with no proof (sigh). I don't consider myself part of a clique or a club. I judge each person on what they say or do.

"Do you think I bother that you people would read us or not? Definitely no.." "You people"?? Who is you people? Just because I come here to leave a comment I get clubbed as you people? I don't subscribe to group think, thank you very much...

Where did I say I was the professional? In fact in every comment I've said I am just starting, but you choose to ignore that. You choose to ignore anything that doesn't suit your argument. And therefore... you choose not to listen... show me once where I said I was professional and you were not?? To the contrary, I said "none of us (me included) have achieved much in the film world" Heh... but yes, ignore that... please do...

Believe me, I am a student... and that's my approach to film. Irrespective of age, I am willing to learn from anyone who is willing to teach AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, is themselves willing to learn.

Anuj - I never accused you of publicity. Please don't make baseless claims.

I came here for one reason only - b/c I thought you guys started that discussion with much promise... but were sucked into different direction and lost focus and started to stonewall, get circular and repetitive. I came here only b/c I thought, hey, these are smart guys and if only their approach were different they would achieve much more. Do you think asking Jaideep Varma if he's used the three planes of cinema in his life is not arrogant? I'm in no way saying "do first and then talk" is right. I am not defending how others talked to you - I am trying to tell you how to approach others if you want them to listen. If you don't, then forget it...

But... you don't care (as you've said many times). And this is my point. Whether it is film or anything else, if you are unwilling to change your approach, change your opinion, what point is there? My way or the high way doesn't work in life and it doesn't work in film. But both responses have been - "you are wrong, we are right, go to hell, we don't care".

Good luck guys...

Anuj said...

Shiripriya

I am sorry if it appeared to you that the response to the accusation against publicity was directed at you. I was not clear enough, and it was mostly a case of conveying your case to 'anyone who is patient enough to listen.' Sorry again.


"Do you think asking Jaideep Varma if he's used the three planes of cinema in his life is not arrogant?"
It is. Very. Only, however, if viewed in isolation ma'm. When viewed as a reciprocation to a man who deemed your entire effort as 'utter bullshit', 'pretentious', and 'whiners' in one swipe of his glorious indignation, without even giving any valid reasons for it, it will not seem as arrogant to you.


"But both responses have been - "you are wrong, we are right, go to hell, we don't care"."
Had we not cared, we wouldn't have initiated the discussion in the first place, and then not made an effort to carry it to as much a logical conclusion as possible. Still, its your opinion, and as it goes, to each his own.

Again, I appreciate your coming here.

Philip said...

Shiripriya

Appreciate your patience in trying to engage and suggest an alternative approach to discussing.

Agreed you did not defend, but calling out for arrogance from Nitesh/Anuj when most including AK and Jaideep Verma were arrogant seems surprising and unlike your comments.

Am curious hence why free advice to Nitesh/Anuj and none for all the comments at PFC.

Nitesh Anuj

I like your thoughts for change and some of the improvements you have written on PFC and this blog,thou if your reaction to criticism is arrogance ,why are you surprised if that is the reaction you got on PFC.

Surely the resistance to change and listening to criticism is not a issue at PFC alone but do you think your criticism and ideas are any better if they are going to be resisted so strongly and not make headway in implementation.

Would think that when you engage people you would want to work with the expectation that you are going to face resistance and would need to "listen" and then derive some common ground and have a win-win discussion .

It seemed like you critique and say you need change and when provoked you give in to arrogance and become defensive.

I wish you luck and look forward to your site/mag ,would suggest a rethink on your approach for changing cinema, probably a little more tact and compromise could help,maybe caring for your audience might give more success.