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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dazed and Confused Observation of Indian Cinema

The result of 55th National Film Awards are out. And they are quite unbiased ones. National film Awards had also got bad name when Raveena had got it for Daman, Saif for Hum Tum and Karishma for DTPH. It forced me to compile and compose (not purely compose) recent development in Indian cinema through mine observations.

We didn't start the fire, It was always burning
Since the world's been turning, We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it, But we tried to fight it


Billy Joel definitely should have written that song keeping in his mind about cinephiles unbounded zeal or passion or FIRE for cinema .

Today,in the words of Margaret Mead, I will express myself: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

All the people involved in this project of educating people about cinema through making films and writing about it are those handful of committed people. Public acceptance can’t be the only criteria for judging success. Dialectic and sound critique have important roles in the society. When we taunt them or dismiss them off as elitist we are threatening the basis of human progress over ages. My best wishes are with PFC & Indian auteur.

Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man's growth without destroying his roots. ~Frank A. Clark

PFC and Indian Auteur are leading two poles of cinema writings which taught me what swings inside the mind of film makers and critics. PFC has made it possible for current debut film makers to reach aspirants & cinephiles. Indian Auteur has made the standards of criticism high and quality uncompromising instead of financial woes. I still remember the debate between them and anyone remotely interested in Indian cinema with the nature of film-love in the country should read this discussion. It helped to downplay emotion of people blindly praising Anurag by an external shock. This lead to the write up of Anurag isn’t God, he ain’t Godard either on pfc. Time will reveal that this discussion as a very crucial juncture of Indian cinema and criticism. This in real term is called Manthan, the churning of opposite forces for the sake of greater good. And let us hope that it will produce gems in future, if not poison and elixir.

People think differently and in different directions and to bring them under one direction is the job of auteur. We have today a movement started by the RGV, Anurag Kashyap, Santosh Sivan & Dibakar Banerjee etc. it reminds of American cinema movement of 70's.

Today, Multiplexes has nourished the popcorn movie lovers but it has helped a lot of indie film makers. World cinema has shown that urban Indian audience are ready to deepen the awareness (with all its consequences) that better cinema different from ours, really do exist. Rural audiences had abandoned meaningful cinema of 50s and 60s giving upper hand to the entertainment movies saga of 70s & 80's. Parallel cinema had born and demised in between the urban audiences only. Post 90's liberalisation era, commercial cinema has abandoned rural India completely in the search of new NRI market only. Just look at the difference in dance scenes in our entertainment movies. First all the backstage dancers were local guys/gals from Mumbai but now they are all white firangis.

I used to feel that some story is shown in the movies which is about somebody else or characters are not known to me. Perhaps this is not the cinema. As a viewer, world cinema and new upcoming sensible films made me realise that cinema is all about me either as a film maker or a film viewer. Cinema of Tarantino shows that cinema is all about reflection of film maker. You have to make the film or write a book or event paint a picture in a way as you see it in your mind. There is no need of blindly following west for their appreciation, our films should reflect our experinces and voices.

I want to focus on an issue that why is it so that all greatness in India mostly approved by the west first. This may be either due to our affinity for the approval of white men or west has got eye for appreciation of talent on merit like in the case of Srinivasa Ramanujan to Satyajit Ray. Just don't know the answer...

In arts, especially popular arts like cinema, there’s no right or wrong or what we call binary choice. The difference between the two decisions is too obvious to miss. It’s the difference between being right vs being likable. Objective vs subjective or Facts vs opinion. So while general opinion can be wrong about something that requires deeper data and fact-based analysis. The primary key to determine success is the ‘goal’. Isn’t the goal of popular art likability? The five points of eternal debate in any field are: Quantity vs Quality; Adaptation vs Originality; Price vs Cost; Funding vs Delivery; and Excellence vs Inclusion. Cinema has to optimise the solution between these parameters. Creativity should precede public acceptance and simultaneously stimulates the mind!

In the end, I know that it is a great shame really that even after winning the national award quality cinema will die a natural death due to lack of audience. What a pity...

5 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. very soon i am also planning to cme across a similar post
    do read it

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great post dude.
    People are still suffering from the slave mentality that's why anything that is approved by the west gets recognition here.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You have written such wonderful posts on kanpur why dont you write something on benaras.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Mayank, looking for the post...

    Sudhanshu. Thanks for comment. Slave mentality is followed by timidation of Indians as britishers were really brave and ruled India with iron fist. And for benaras, it will take time. I remains mostly locked up in my room in college days, hence don't have good authority over benaras. Still will try in future.

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