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Showing posts from October, 2008

Cinephilia in India: a search for love and identity

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‘The Cinephile is the one who keeps his eyes wide open in vain but will not tell anybody that he could not see any thing. He is the one preparing for a life as a professional ‘watcher’ as a way to make up for being late, as slowly as possible’ - Serge Daney ‘Perhaps it is not cinema that has ended but only cinephilia -- the name of the very specific kind of love that cinema inspired. Each art breeds its fanatics. The love that cinema inspired, however, was special. It was born out of the conviction that cinema was an art unlike any other: quintessentially modern; distinctively accessible; poetic and mysterious and erotic and moral -- all at the same time. Cinema had apostles. (It was like religion.) Cinema was a crusade. For cinephiles, the movies encapsulated everything. Cinema was both the book of art and the book of life.’ - Susan Sontag, ‘The Decay of Cinema’ Main Entry: cine·phile Function: Noun Etymology: French cinĂ©phile, from cinĂ© + -phile Date: 1968 : A devotee of mot

Balraj Sahni's 1972 Convocation Address at JNU

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About twenty years ago, the Calcutta Film Journalists' Association decided to honour the late Bimal Roy, the maker of Do Bigha Zameen and us, his colleagues. It was a simple but tasteful ceremony. Many good speeches were made, but the listeners were waiting anxiously to hear Bimal Roy. We were all sitting on the floor, and I was next to Bimal Da. I could see that as his turn approached he became increasingly nervous and restless. And when his turn came he got up, folded his hands and said, “Whatever I have to my I say if in my films. I have nothing more to say,” and sat down. There is a lot in what Bimal Da did, and at this moment my greatest temptation is to follow his example. The fact that I am not doing so is due solely to the profound regard I have for the name which this august institution bears; and the regard I have for yet another person, Shri P.C. Joshi, who is associated with your university. I owe to him some of the greatest moments of my life, a debt which I can never

Days of Glory

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Days Of Glory Directed- Richard Bouchareb In Days of Glory, there is a single forward track on the face of a Colonel in the French troupe, who is talking about the glory that the French would bestow upon the North Africans who are fighting for them in the war. And this ‘track’ on his face, to form a tight close-up; as he is speaking (the only one within the film) is a prominent deviation within the mise-en-scene that spoke beyond what the narrative, the image and the sound the rest of the film provided. Because it’s exactly here the film transcends the boundaries of becoming just another war movie and vibrates more than the limitation of heroism, patriotism and death all such films provide aplenty. Since the ‘track’ becomes a document that the film later uses to testify against the false promises, dreams and hope the French had promised and shown. The film is set in the year 1943, France is at war against Germany and several men from French controlled North African territories

Karzzz- The Remake

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Karzzz Directed- Satish Kaushik Release- 2008 Karzzzz the remake, is a fantasy, and the only domain it belongs to is Bollywood. The film falls under the same branch of movies such as Farah Khan’s Main Hoon Na , Om Shanti Om or Anees Bazmee’s Singh is Kinng . However, what separates this from the very lot of ‘pure Bollywood films’ is that Karzzzz is a remake of a 1980 potboiler, that elevated mainstream storytelling to a new cinematic height; forming a certain shift in narrative and form. However, it still remained a pure work of fantasy; a story about rebirth, vengeance, greed, laid out in a surreal manner. Hence, the remake becomes a double-whammy; a fantasy within a fantasy, so the first rule of the film is to actually watch it with loads of popcorn, burgers and colas cause without it the film would be hard to digest. When Himesh Reshammiya came alive on the silver screen in Aap Kaa Surroor: The Moviee - The Real Luv Story his mannerism in the film was unique like hi

Adoor Gopalakrishnan on Mankada Ravi Verma

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Raviettan’s [Mankada Ravi Varma] brother Rama Varma and I were students at the Film Institute in Pune. He used to talk to me about his brother, a cinematographer, who was then freelancing for the BBC and other agencies after passing out from the Madras film institute. He had worked as assistant cameraman in Films Division also. Seven years after I left the Institute, in 1972, when I thought of making a feature film, I approached Raviettan with the script of ‘Swayamvaram.’ He was happy with the script and expressed his willingness to work in the film. We thought alike and we clicked as a team. Prior to my films, he had worked with Aziz, a former FTII student, in a film called ‘Aval.’ He has also worked with P.N. Menon for the film ‘Olavum Theeravum,’ produced by P.A. Bakker, G. Aravindan’s ‘Uttarayanam’ and Singeetam Sreenivasa Rao’s ‘Dikkatta Parvathi.’ He never did more than one film with any of them. But he has been my cinematographer for all my films and documentaries since ‘Sway

The Servant's Shirt- An encroachment of 'Space'.

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Anuj Malhotra Film- Naukar Ki Kameez( The Servant's Shirt) Directed- Mani Kaul. Synopsis: Without pretending to portray a period of history, "Naukar Ki Kameez" is steeped in the liberal pre-economic atmosphere that marked India in the sixties.The film evokes the special lifestyle that India fashioned for itself during fifty years of soviet influenced Socialism. Through the characters: the civil servant, the Sahib, who lives with his spouse in a colonial-type residence, the chief of the alcoholic bureau, Bade Babu, who whiles away his time as he looks for a servant for the Sahib, and Santou, the young hero in the film, and his wife, whose home is flooded every time it rains because of their leaky roof, the film suggests a network of hierarchical relations between people through sometimes subtle and at other times blunt illustrations. The secret manipulations the different characters indulge in, whether it be in their formal exchanges or in their friendships and intimate

KK Mahajan- an unfinished potrait.

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What VK Murthy was to Guru Dutt, Subarta Mitra to Satyajit Ray, Mankand Ravi Verma to Adoor Gopalakrishan, KK Mahajhan was to the Indian New Wave. There never was, and there never will be an iconoclast like him again in Indian Cinema. He smoked, he drank, he laughed, he joked, and he ‘created’ images out of thin air; breaking barriers of light, texture, shadow to form an everlasting bonding. To watch the camera sway and form distinct patterns in Kumar Shahani documentary ‘ The Bamboo Flute’ one cannot help, but think, and think deeply, not only regarding the layers of meaning woven in Shah ani's mise-en-scene, but the dense layers of textures and colors of green, reds and blue forming the basic substance and creating the organic growth in the film. When I asked Kumar Shahani regarding his collaboration with KK Mahajan, he simply smiled, and the smile meant more than any words could have expressed. After all, they had shared a bond from their years at FTII, Pune to their