Saturday, May 30, 2009

Classic Film Posters- Hindi Cinema


Read More about the classics in our third issue of Indian Auteur.

Issue No-3

Issue No-2

Issue No-1

Bollywood Strike

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cannes 2009- Awards

Palme d'Or: Michael Haneke for "The White Ribbon

Grand Prize- Jacques Audiard for "A Prophet"

Best Director Prize(mise-en-scene): Brillante Mendoza for Kinatay\

Best Screenplay: Lou Ye for "Spring Fever

Caméra d'Or for Best Debut Feature was awarded to Warwick Thornton for "Samson et Delilah

Best Actor: Christoph Waltz for his role in "Inglorious Basterds"

Best Actress: to Charlotte Gainsbourg for her role in "Antichrist"

Palme d'Or, Best Short Film: "Arena" by João Salaviza

The Jury Prize: Fish Tank Andrea Arnold
Thirst Park Chan-Wook

A Special Cannes Festival Prize went to Alain Resnais for his film Wild Grass

Un Certain Regard:

Prix Un Certain Regard:
"Dogtooth" Yorgos Lanthimos, Greece).

Prix du Jury:
"Police, Adjective (Corneliu Porumboiu, Romania).

Prix Special Un Certain Regard:
"No One Knows About Persian Cats"

(Bahman Ghobadi, Iran) and "Father of my Children", (Mia Hansen-Løve, France).

Director’s Fortnight

French film “ I Killed My Mother” has won three out of four prizes at the Director’s Fortnight, that’s organized on the sidelines of Cannes Film Festival.

Here is the complete list of winners:

Art Cinema Award:

“J’ai tue ma mere”
(I Killed My Mother) by Xavier Dolan (Canada)

Special Mention:
“La Merditude des choses” by Felix van Groeningen (Belgique/Belgium)

7e Prix Regards Jeunes 2009:
“J’ai tue ma mere” (I Killed My Mother) by Xavier Dolan (Canada)


Indian Auteur

Issue no- 3

Issue No-2

Issue no-1

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

French Pronunciation

French have played an important role in shaping the history of cinema and we often include their cinematic diction in trying to express ourselves. In spite of the fact, we understand the term, we often mispronounce them. This mp3 is a small guide from Harrytuttle that gives you a chance to listen, read and learn how to pronounce words that have sculpted the tradition of cinema.

Indian Auteur: French Pronunciation.

You can also download the mp3


Discussion on the Forum

India's Prospective

Women Directors

Bollywood Strike

Indian Auteur Issues

Issue no-3


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Russian Cine Experience

" Someday we will steal dreams of superstars in Bollywood and help rebuild Manipur"

CineDarbaar is organizing a Russian Cine Experience from the 15th-21st of May 2009. This is the third cine experience from our sister organization. While the world will be celebrating the Cannes film festival, we are happy looking back in time. Perhaps that is the only passage to guide us to a bright future. So that someday we can move beyond out-of-competitions screenings and establish a regular serious film criticism magazine.

Every cine experience is not just about the film but what follows before and after the film. Because it’s these two entry point that separates us from every other film screenings that are happening in Delhi. It may not be something new in comparison with rest of the world. But for us, the idea to introduce, screen and distribute printed leaflets and then discuss is pivotal. It’s the backbone on which we all are growing.

Today, our spaces have become very private and even in public places we remain closed within our own world. Bollywood has made the cinema screen into a home of clichés. It neither represents the closed world of contemporary India nor looks back its past. So it’s a fresh change that there is a strike ongoing in India between the Producers and Distributors. At least because of this more regional and foreign films are released in selected cities and theaters in India.

We hope... to make the Cine Experiences a place where one can speak out and interact without the fear of their neighbor. “A place where one can talk to each other". Interact without hesitation. Learn without guilt. And question without feeling stupid.

It feels we Indians have always been on war against the mainstream Industry. I have just started reading Marie Seton’s biography of Ray and the opening page is an important evidence that the battle we all fighting today has been going on for over 61 years now:

‘ Someday, I’ll make a great film!’ remarked Satyajit Ray in 1948 to his friend Chidananda Das Gupta.

Dasgupta laughed. He thought Ray was joking. But, in fact, Ray was in deadly earnest though he had not begun his first film, Pather Panchali. It would take five years work and only be completed in the summer of 1955. Created against a background of tremendous difficulties, Pather Panchali was to bring the unknown Satyajit Ray international fame .

When he made his unexpected remark, Ray, Chidananda and another Das Gupta- Hari-who had returned to Calcutta from Hollywood- had just formed the Calcutta Film Society as a means of seeing and promoting the screening of important international films, past and present. Almost their fact act was to purchase a print of Sergei Eisenstein’s Potemkin.

Ray, his friends and their supporters were in opposition to the outmoded theatrical vulgarity of the Indian film industry’s pictures particularly those with Hindi dialogues produced in Bombay. These Hindi films alone were assured of an extensive national release. Those produced in any of the other one dozen official languages of India were rarely distributed outside their own limited linguistic area.

- Excerpt from Marie Seton’s biography on Satyajit Ray.

- Pic, JL.Godard La Chinoise

- ISSUE No-3 coming soon..

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Poltical Cinema- Delhi Cinephile Meeting

The Cinephile Meetings in April did not take place across India due to several factors. One of the prominent reasons being that, most people are busy with their college exams or don’t have an hour to spare. People don't have time to dedicate one hour of their lives just for one given Sunday of a month. I guess everyone has their own lives and priorities, and cinema definitely is not on many list of undisputed agenda to discuss and talk. Or the most valuable question people ask- " What will we get out of this?"

While many people live in the disillusionment that making films(and their masterpiece) will solve all the problems of Indian Cinema. And discussion and writing on cinema are pure thrash. And this is the same branch of people who tend to forget that they will need someone to champion their film and somewhere to show their film. And when both these groups does not exist or fit in the current state of Indian cinema culture ‘Their dream masterpiece will die even before it’s born’. First one needs the foundation than only skyscrapers are possible, its pointless to dream from the top to bottom. Until we don't co-operate across platforms on grass root level to change things nothing will ever move here.

We need to co-operate and hold hands and that is the only way things will move. A new nomenclature needs to be developed. One of cinema, a language of expressing our desires, our stories and our commitment for change that should start from us and then move outward, so for every film in India that derives its source of inspiration from clichés we should strive for new stories. And I'm sure every Indian who reads this post knows that we have many untold stories and a culture and tradition so rich that that it would take a person to be reincarnated at least a seven life time to even touch one aspect completely.

For every film in India where the camera is dead- The camera needs to wake up, it needs to move like it does in an Max Ophuls films, or it should remain at a distance like it does in a Tsai Ming Liang films. It’s not just about the nature of content; it’s a also about the nature of film camera and the questions it can raise and bring to a film- a certain relationship that can be developed- a protest-a nature to move away from what has been done till death. It’s important, and it’s more than needed. Because the further we go the more local we become and it’s through these stories closer to our heart and mind new images and new criticism in India will develop. And for that an all out getting together is the only key to survivial for anyone who dares to defer from the basic notion of cinema in the country.

This month has been invaluable in weighing the pros/cons of the overall structure of such meetings and the development of a culture of cinema in India. I also realize that no form of online interaction, discussion can seriously replace the power and bonding that one can develop in the course of meeting people. For us, this is an important step, and will continue to be so (to push for a print journal and establish nation wide underground screening hubs) to really become relevant and affect the Industry that we seriously dislike.

Nonetheless, the meeting took place and although a little less fiery than the last two it still was a thrilling experience. Personally, with every ‘Cinephile Meeting’ there are growths in different areas for all of us who are involved in this endeavor. Starting with the understanding of organizing an event and learning about the ideas of cinema and life that cuts across different ages groups and social structure of people who come for these meetings.

The current Cinephile Report Part-1 is written by a leading Social researcher and Media sociologist in India who attended the meeting. Although, what she writes is not necessarily what we did discuss. But for me, it’s always interesting to know how facts sometimes are misinterpreted and over analyzed at the same time. Yet, it’s always liberating to listen, and read such a viewpoint and this is definitely an interesting read. It’s always important to have people who disagree with us but the fact we have so many that- it make the whole thing even more amazing.

This month the same topic will be carried forward for the Meeting to be held in Delhi. While in the rest of India it would only begin when exams ends and people are free to talk about cinema.


ISSUE No-3 coming soon

pic source- Two men place a hammer and sickle symbol outside the Cochin Communist office during an election campaign.

(Photographed while on assignment for, but not published in, "India: Fifty Years of Independence," May 1997, National Geographic magazine)
Photograph by Steve McCurry

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Notes for an Aesthetics of Cinema Sound

As life slowly climbed the ladder of evolution. one sense after another arrived and developed. 

Hearing was the last to arrive, and the last to attain a state bordering on perfection.  We have acquired the habit of giving the greater part of our attention to what we we, laving a mere fraction to what we hear 

-James Jeans (1937) 

Both the senses of sight and sound, it may be noted, arose out of the need to perceive movement; to locate an object, and one's own relationship to it; to gauge the pressures at work; to achieve points of equilibrium and to move in a controlled manner not only from static point to static point, as we seemed to imagine in our classical civilisations, but to find in these different vibrations, and differences of pressure, the vitality of being itself. 

"When does one say that a piece of material lives. When it continuously does something, moves ..." 

The atomic physicist, Erwin Schrodinger, quoted by Fritz Winckel. Winckel goes on to add that ".. . impulses to movement are, for example, electrical or chemical potential differences. When they are equalised, the tendency to form a chemical bond ceases: temperatures become equalised through heat transfer. Thermodynamic equilibrium results in a condition of constant rest (of maximum entropy), a condition which is precisely: death. From the physical standpoint, disorder is continuously created out of a condition of order. Nature strived for a condition of ideal disorder .. And again Schrodinger 

"The trick by which an organisation can keep its place on a rather high level of order consists in reality of a continuous absorption of order out of the surrounding world." 

Thus Music; 


Music is perhaps the most highly developed sensate function of human understanding. One can begin to speak of the aesthetics of sound only in relation to music, because it is this that provides the most fundamental expression of the states of being and of acting in a continuously impinging disorder. It is possible to read speech, to make sense of words one has never heard, as signs that refer to a content for a state of being or of action. 

As for incidental and atmospheric sounds in the cinema, they lie between The rest is silence. 

Yet silence, from which everything was originally supposed to begin, does not exist in an absolute sense. `The soundtrack invented silence' says Robert Bresson, and this is perhaps true in a far deeper sense than even he meant it. On the most obvious level, silence in music relates to space indirectly. In the cinema, on the other hand, it relates to space in movement. In music, it relates to the sustaining of a note, toreverberation, to absorption by the spatial enclosures, producing, transmitting, reflecting, and receiving the sound. In the cinema all this and more. In fact, cinema may or may not relate to the spaces which produce and receive sound. 

It is the arbitrariness of silence, created both by the sounds, the music, the speech and its juxtaposition with the visual imagery, changing in tone, line and colour that articulates silence further. For this perhaps a reference-point could be the discontinuites of sound in the scene where the heroine of Subannarekha kills herself of screen. Neither the spoken word nor music can work in such discontinuity. 

The smallest unit of the spoken word in any language is the allophone. In specific languages, it is the specific manner of continuously linking of allophones that constitutes a word or even a nonsense syllable. An 'isolated note cannot be perceived as music. If it is held for very long it may not be perceived at all. An isolated note is no different in meaning and perception than what we have just cited as an example of discrete sounds in silence. 

The silence of John Cage, or the pure frequency of the computer, if it is music, is so in a special sense which corresponds more closely with the function of speech, of context. Yet I am sure that it does seem to you, as it seems to me or to anyone who has worked in the cinema-I include those who actively see the cinema-that there is a great deal of overlap between all our categeries. 

In the development of almost all traditions of music, at any rate, the speech and the recitative has always been closely related to changes of frequency, if not the motive force. Many of the classical languages-and perhaps some modern languages-had developed meters from pitch and frequency variations rather than stress. In fact the Khayal gayaki, a system of music we are all familiar with, may be recognised as the highest form of the speech-music continuum. 

The absence of rigid notations, experienced by us today as a near impossibility, along with the apparent semantic poverty of its words, has perhaps made it possible for us to come nearer to what James jeans conjectures to be the music of the future: `. a continuous scale in which every interval can be made perfect'. The simplest example can come from the infinite variations upon the Bhairavi. But closer examination may reveal that we approach it even in pentatonic ragas like the Bhoop. 

For Helmholtz (1877) from whom all modern studies of the sensation of the tone, and the theory of music,.begin, a continuous scale was unimaginable-at least its understanding was impossible. For Winckel (1939), it is only in the context of disorderly sound movement that order arises. And music already begins for him to link itself with indeterminacy. 

It seems clearer than ever before that notations are a mere approximation. Since shrutis have to be heard, we should only strive to name approximations, not absolutes. Yet it is heartening to find that it is the search for precision that yields to flexibility. And vice versa, that it is the flexible language structure which is meaningful. Heartening for every artist who wishes to place himself in a tradition and yet to innovate, to individuate. 

It seems to me that in the use of sound, the cinema has only opened up great possibilities without realising them. When Bresson speaks of the evocation achieved by sound, he is often still speaking of the visual images it can conjure up as against the visual images that are concretely present. When Godard speaks of the destruction of the images, his form becomes anarchic-subservient to speech. And yet they, including Ghatak have gone about the furthest so far in the juxtaposition and superposition of text, sound and music. 

When Bresson asserts that the eye is less attentive than the ear, he is speaking of a condition when the spectator is attentive at all! For in the West, the twin enemies of the development of sound in cinema have been realism (note the unnecessary, unimaginative, recourse to music in the best of neo-realistic work of Rossellini, De Sica) and the theatre (the privileged, synchronous word). Even today despite the most sophisticated mixing equipment available, you can see the dips that take place the moment characters project dialogue. In India it is this same expressionist realist theatrical tradition that has deafened our ears to sound in films. 

Our epic theatre not only used music as part of its narration, but had linked itself to what we clearly find as a correspondence with music in the gesture and the use of verbal imagery. In koodydlom, Draupadi's lotus eyes, touched by kajal, could find a myriad means of expression through the employment of a few basic modes. The curvatures of sculpture find a unity in our aesthetic with the melodic lines that lead to a point of -rest (nyasa). 

It is this epic unity that we seek today, which would include in it the theories of causation and of history that have shaken us from our refined slumber ... It is chronology, not narrative, that we have to abandon. 

The article was originally published in  Issue no-5 1983 in Journal of Arts&Ideas its republished here from Digital South Asia Library Archive under the Creative Commons License


- Issue no-3 coming soon.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Why don't we make films in Bombay?

"We don’t want to make films because until we have watched the entire filmography of Rossellini, Godard, Ray, Mani Kaul, Guru Dutt, and read Bazin, Sarris, Daney, Perkins, Rosenbaum, Robin Wood, , Adrian Martin...Harrytuttle how can we?"

Ever since we began our crusade there are few question(suggestion) that are asked/told to us every now and then. Like:-

1) Why don't we go and make movies?

2) Is writing on films really a job?

4) There are no audience for art-films? Because everyone's life is so fucked that no one is really interested in watching another fucked up life on screen?. While the evidence is out there in the open, for all of us to see, in the no of flops we have ever year in this country. Yet the studios would not like to take a risk. And the flops are simply ignored. No wonder Bollywood is on a strike, but no one is ready to work on the basic backbone of changing things.

5) People before you have tried doing the same thing and nothing really happened. So its fruitless. Or in the Industry there are so many people working, so their livelihood needs to be protected. But if our industry really cares so much for its technical crew they need to pay less to actors(stars) and more to them. Because most actors don't even know their profession of acting hence they should be paid nothing. But it can never happen, after all, stars sell movie....And much more...most of which we are kinda tired listening.

In this article our comrade Anuj explores on the perennial advise everyone has " Why don't you go and make movies in Bombay". Or simply make movies. This post also reminds me of our first cinephile meeting where we had a bunch of college students who firmly believed that making movies on mobile and screening in your college was much better than what we were doing. Obviously, the idea to make a film is something we don't condemn but to look down on people writing on cinema is seriously amusing. Another interesting factor is that in every other profession, work or hobby people have the right to be intelligent but in cinema its considered a sin- " Intellect is bad for health and bad for cinema".

So whatever be the advice, 'Film Criticism in India' is here to stay and we are here to learn, grow and make sure that we don't move today, tomorrow or twenty years from now to push the envelope to inform about quality cinema and writing in this country.

It's our duty to inform that Andre Bazin existed and so did Ritwik Ghatak from villages to towns, to cities and metroes to everyone and anyone... who have a second to spare.

Why Don't we make films in Bombay?


Satyajit Ray, Ray films and Ray- Movie.

Cinematography and Time.

Interview Ritwik Ghatak

Interview Anurag Kashyap