Filed under: Tips for a Creative Artist | Tags: arts, auteur, cinema, creative tips, creativity, film, film education, filmmaking, indie filmmaking, oorvazi irani, tips for a creative artist
TIPS FOR A CREATIVE ARTIST
From the diary of a filmmaker Oorvazi Irani
- Create what you know about or have experienced.
- After getting an exciting idea, developing it requires discipline.
- Find a partner to share your ideas with, brainstorm and help you keep at it and refine and develop it.
- Sleep sometimes works as a defense mechanism for an uninspired mind when you sit to create.
- Closing your eyes and focusing for a few minutes on a thought or idea or problem might be more insightful than hours spent with the rational chattering mind.
- Try to search for original, unique ideas and ways of creating. Your subconscious mind can offer exciting possibilities. Try diving in to your subconscious by psychic automatism or meditation.
- Use other forms of art to explore the development of your ideas like painting, music etc.
- Life itself seen with keen eyes has so many ideas floating around, its just about the way we see things that makes all the difference.
- The germ of the idea can be an image, a word, a character, a theme, a place etc which is unique and fires your imagination.
- Films, Literature, Newspapers, Paintings, any creation can be an inspiration but what is important is how do you make it your own and take it to another level.
- Creativity and art is about a process of finding your own answers not stating ready made answers from others. It’s close to a scientific invention if it’s the work of a genius.
- Creativity is about self discovery and many auteurs feel they are making the same movie again and again with slight modifications. Your work is a reflection of who you are.
Filed under: Film Musings | Tags: Abhay Deol, Anurag Kashyap, auteur, Auteur Theory, Bicycle Thieves, Black Friday, Black Friday – The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts, Cahiers du Cinema, cinema, Dev D, film education, film workshop, Francoise Truffaut, Gangs of Wasseypur, Gulaal, indian cinema, Indian Ocean Song, indie films, Kalki Koechlin, Kay Kay Menon, last train to Mahakali, midday multimedia, No Smoking, oorvazi irani, Piyush Mishra, Raj Singh Chaudhury, Ram Gopal verma, S. Hussain Zaidi, Sahir Ludhanvi, Satya, satyajit ray, Sneha Khanwalkar, sriram raghavan, Taxi Driver, That girl in yellow boots, Viacom 18 motion pictures, Vikramaditya Motwane, Vishal Bharadwaj, Zeishan Quadri
“Anurag Kashyap: An Auteur Demystified” An Indepth Essay By Oorvazi Irani
‘Auteur‘is a French word which translated in English means ‘author’, the creator of the work. Having said that, cinema unlike the other arts like poetry, painting etc. is a collective art and includes contributions from other artists to make it a completed film and is not the work of a sole artist. However, the ‘Auteur Theory’ suggests that there is one prime force that leads to the creation of the film and that individual guides all the processes of filmmaking. It is the vision and worldview of this individual who makes the film special and thus a work of art. The ‘Auteur Theory’ was born out of the French New Wave movement in cinema pioneered by the critic and filmmaker Francoise Truffaut ( he wrote an important article ‘ a certain tendency in French Cinema’ for the Cahiers du Cinema magazine in 1954)which was a protest to liberate the medium of cinema from its old conventions, asking for freedom for the director to express himself beyond the reliance on literature and demanded respect for the director who is to be treated as an independent artist in the medium of cinema enabling him to create a body of work, like any other artist, dwelling on themes and developing his distinctive style.
Why do I regard Anurag Kashyap as an auteur and chose to analyze his body of work because I feel there is a struggle - there is a creative voice that wants to rebel and a heart full of feelings. His films contain a personal vision and a distinctive style which as an artist interests me to observe and examine.
What is the place, in the history of cinema, of this young filmmaker? He is not revolutionary but belongs to the rebels, he is not radical but belongs to the non formula, he is not the first artist but belongs to the world of artists, and he is not extraordinary but does not belong to the ordinary either.
In India after 1950 there was a parallel cinema movement which was literally created as a force opposed to the popular mainstream film industry with higher ideals and broke the conventional rules set out by popular cinema like happy endings, songs etc. Anurag Kashyap belongs to that alternate cinema movement in India today. It has evolved to not necessarily being opposed to mainstream cinema but seems to be seeking if it can maintain its soul and yet remain mainstream. It’s interesting to note that Anurag started his film career with his feature film Black Friday(2007) financed by Midday Multimedia (with a mere budget of Rs 4.5 Crores)who were new to filmmaking and with his latest film Gangs of Wasseypur(2012) has the support and backing of a major Corporate – Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, produced by Sunil Bohra (with an app budget of Rs 9.20 Crores for GOW Part One and a collection of Rs. 10 Crores in the opening weekend). History and common sense both suggest ‘Less money is more freedom’ for an independent filmmaker or a director in a studio system (rather corporate setup in today’s terms), so what interestingly remains to be seen is will all the bigger budget trappings compromise the ‘spirit’ of films in the near future for an auteur like Anurag.
For an Auteur to enter the system and yet retain his personal freedom and smuggle the ‘soul’ into it (as Martin Scorsese puts it) is an interesting challenge. Also till now he has largely been opposed to the star system and has not used big stars even for his recent film Gangs of Wasseypur – will he venture, in the near future making bigger budget films and using stars, if he does what will be the price he pays is the big question. Best summed up in Anurag’s own words on the release of his first film Black Friday(2007).
“Every rebel becomes a conformist..my real insecurity begins now” ( Feb 13th 2007 http://anuragkashyap.tumbhi.com/uncategorized/black-friday-introspecting-156 )
The Auteur and his influence of his own life
Every Auteur consciously or otherwise is exploring certain pet themes and thus his body of work reflects his thought process and insights on the subject. The personal life of an auteur cannot be divorced from his films. This interplay is different every time, sometimes more subtle, sometimes more overbearing, which can include premise, locations, character or any or everything. If the filmmaker does not involve himself its the work of a craftsman and not an artist.
I feel the starting point for a true artist is that he/she is sensitive to life unfolding and also aware of their inner self. There is a constant process of questioning and probing for the truth.
Anurag was a sensitive child – as a young boy in school he wrote a poetry on suicide but it was not seen as an expression of pain by a sensitive artist but rather misunderstood and perceived wrongly as a state of depression and was recommended treatment. His keen sense of observation, his originality and creativeness in his schoolwork were never understood or encouraged in his childhood instead his voice was drowned in the routine and security of a conformist existence. He felt like an outcast in a prestigious school where he did not know English and was teased by others. He always had a voice but nobody heard him. This continued even with his films as one film after another was banned (starting with Paanch, Black Friday,Gulaal) but, as he himself says, that was a very important part of his life, those failures really shaped him and in fact interestingly entered and become part of his artistic world of exploration.
“No Smoking mirrors my struggle in the industry. That’s why it’s most dear to me and it’ll always remain so, more than Dev. D and more than Black Friday.” (Interview with Bikas Mishra – Dear Cinema Feb 8th 2009).
An important layer of the film is Kafka’s Trial and this takes us back to an early influence on Anurag in his initial struggling days in Mumbai. He had written a play and showed it to Govind Nihalani, who appreciated the work and asked him to read Isben and gave him Kafka’s Trial to read and adapt to film. At that point in time all this confounded Anurag’s confusion as he was going through a tough time in his life and as a result Anurag stopped taking Govind’s calls and meeting him. But its interesting to note how this finds itself later in a film that he makes.
And Anurag says about the film at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi “The first book that I read in English was Kafka’s Trial (Anurag could not read English till the age of 17 years) I never could understand it but it never left me. If you work in any system its very Kafkaesque, you don’t know what is going on, you cannot figure it out. And you don’t know what is wrong with you. I could not understand why Black Friday was banned. I could not understand if a book could exist why the film could not come out. I could not understand why Paanch was banned. I could not understand why I could not make Gulaal….what is wrong with speaking up.”
“Just smoking becoming a metaphor it became a very personal movie. And the end portion where the things are not explained is also because I never could understand what was going on with my life so I felt let the audience also feel the same thing.”
The motif of smoking however as a metaphor for freedom is introduced in his first short film Last Train to Mahakali (1999) which the filmmaker later takes on to make it a major aspect in his film No Smoking(2007).
However the film No Smoking was marketed by an item number by Bipasa Basu, where I feel the target market seemed to be all wrong. An audience who would be lured to a theatre with an item number is not the deserving viewer for a film like No Smoking.
Another very personal film is That Girl in Yellow Boots(2010). Anurag seems to be confronting his painful past of sexual child abuse which he experienced for 11 years. “ I came to Mumbai brimming with angst, bitterness and a sense of violation and isolation. Thanks to the love of my life, Kalki Koechlin, I am completely cured of my acrimony.”(TOI Subhash K Jha, Nov 11, 2009, 10.51 am IST) These words of Anurag are revealing that as a young man when he came to Mumbai to make films he had a lot of pain inside him and a voice that wanted to be heard. The film has as its theme child abuse and incest, which we realize only at the end of the film when the protagonist is confronted with a bitter truth that the father she was so desperately searching for was a pervert, a child abuser and had sexually violated her sister and caused her death. The film leaves the character and the audience in a state of shock and deep pain which are not expressed with tears, not taken to the level of sentimentality but to a much deeper level.
The film is not limited to the pain of a personal experience; it reveals the underbelly of society and provides a glimpse of the darker side of life at close quarters. Above all the film is interested in the journey of the inner self and reflects on how so many of us are living a delusion. The film prompts us to see the need to confront reality and find our true selves.
The film uses as the title track a doha by Kabir which speaks about this search for oneself.
Hear me, says Kabir, seek and you shall find
In this world tangled in delusion,
The self cannot be seen.
In this world tangled in delusion,
The self cannot be seen.
The self cannot be seen.
The self cannot be seen.
In fact the metaphor of the ‘mirror’ and the character looking at herself/himself in Last Train to Mahakali, That Girl in Yellow Boots, and Gangs of Wasseypur, and in a lot of his films seem to hint at the director’s examination of self delusion by the characters, a sort self examination, a self exploration, a contemplative introspection.
The Auteur and his themes
One way of looking at an auteur is that at a certain level ‘he is making the same movie again and again with slight modifications’. He has pet themes that he is exploring. If we look at Anurag’s body of work we find that this is probably true. Anurag goes from the micro to the macro, from the self to the nation and back again. And at a deeper level from the outside world into the inside world.
Revenge seems to be an important part of the dramatic hook of many of his films including Black Friday, Gulaal and his recent Gangs of Wasseypur. Revenge is a crucial element of popular genre storytelling and in fact was one of the main themes for the ‘western’ genre in Hollywood. So many Hindi formula films are based on revenge. But ‘revenge’ here may also be looked at with more depth besides being a popular formula to tell a story. Not to make a simplistic reading of personal life and its relationship to his films but Anurag has been the underdog and a lot of his films have the spirit of revolt as a rebel an involute revenge may be of sort. However, his films are not a glorification of revenge but mostly rise above to question its very existence.
The filmmaker is not self indulgent but concerned, raise pertinent questions about the world around him and as a true artist should, is searching for the truth. His first feature film Black Friday made in 2004 but released in 2007 three years later due to censorship trouble is a film based on Mumbai’s Black Friday – The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts, based on a book by S. Hussain Zaidi about the 1993 Bombay bombings.
Realism and social, political concerns take centre stage in this film and begins the career of this filmmaker but the concerns and issues raised in this film never really seems to leave him but only get reinvented on his journey.
The film begins and ends with a quote by Mahatma Gandhi “ An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”.
The film ends with the bomb blast recreation and then text title cards.
The Bombay Blasts became India’s largest criminal case
The designated court took 13 years to deliver justice
100 out of the final 122 found guilty
29 still absconding including Tiger Menon
And Bombay is now called Mumbai.
An important scene dealing with revenge, seems to be critical, in regards to what the filmmaker wants to convey to the audience as a message or an insight on same. The scene is – where we see the jail cell through a red filter and one of the bombers, Badshah who is now captured and is being interrogated by the cop. Badshah Khan very proudly takes credit for the bombings and says Muslims have taken the revenge for the atrocities done to their Muslim brothers. That’s when Kay Kay Menon who plays the cop says and speaks in the voice of the director “ …Allah was not on your side, on your side was Tiger Menon . He saw your rage and manipulated you. He was gone before the first bomb was even planted. ..he fucked you over. you know why ? Because you were begging for it. All in the name of religion. You are a fucking idiot. You are an idiot and so is every Hindu, who murders one of you. Everyone who has nothing better to do…but to fight in the name of religion is a fucking idiot.”
The end credits appear with the Indian Ocean Song ‘Bandeh’ which ends the film on a poetic note of lament but never pessimistic rather urging the audience to wake up. It’s a film where there is anger and he wants the audience to acknowledge that justice is not done and wants the audience to question the state of justice in our country.
With his film Gulaal (2009) where the canvas is now the state of Rajasthan he continues his lament of the nation and urges us ‘to save India’ and at a larger level to save this world. Production on Gulaal began in 2001, when Anurag Kashyap was listening to songs from Pyaasa and his film Paanch was struggling with the censors. The film is inspired (and gives credit to) by the song ‘Yeh Mahlon, YehTakhton, Ye Tajon ki Duniya’ By Sahir Ludhanvi from the film Pyaasa
The film is set in present day Rajasthan, a state in western India. The plot is provided by student politics of the university and a fictitious secessionist movement consisting of former Rajput leaders who have become the present day elite.
Also revisiting the title card at the beginning of the film sums up the intent and tone of the film which I would like to reproduce here below:
The first text card:
The film is a work of fiction, dedicated to all
Those poets of per-independent India
Who wrote songs of freedom and had a vision of
Free India, which we could not put together.
If Black Friday was more of an angry voice which was symbolized by Anurag then Gulaal is now more grief and lament which seems stronger, but there is still the use of the strong red color which is symbolic of power and danger. Also the characters of Prithvi Bana and Ardhanareshwar take the film to mythical realms.
Returning to the Theme of Revenge with the film Gangs of Wasseypur (Part 1), the film speaks about revenge at various levels and in its very existence laments the current state of our country and contemporary society. What now hits you hard with this film is that ‘revenge’ a primordial emotion is so strongly still prevalent in our society today and the film seems to be questioning our evolution as a species. The filmmaker like in his earlier films here more than ever is drawing on newsreel and documentary footage and attempting to weave the story of India’s independence with the story of this personal epic saga spanning generations which succeed in revealing, the fact that free India is not really free even today and shows us that prevalent level of lawlessness and bloodshed is so paradoxical in an apparently democratic India. ‘Might is Right’ which is something of the cave man era is still so prevalent in our 21st century, Kashyap does not spare the viewer from confronting this brutal truth nor does he dilute harsh reality with candy floss.
Violence and revenge are intertwined and thus become a very important part of his cinematic vocabulary, violence being mostly external and visceral but also speaks about internal violence specially in one of his more personal films That Girl in Yellow Boots and No Smoking. Dev D also at one level is about revenge where Devdas is on a mission of self destruction.
The Auteur and Realism as a treatment
Anurag says that he makes films about things as he sees it. In fact the appeal of a lot of Anurag’s films are his realism which seems raw to a lot of viewers. Here raw for me refers to the unadulterated truth and not a work that does not treat the raw reality. As art and an artist does not present to you life as experienced in real life as raw and personal but by the process of his art and craft he makes your experience richer, makes you reflect and offers you a space to experience the apparently raw reality which he has treated with the processes of filmmaking. Also an interesting observation of a lot of viewers after seeing a Kashyap film is that they could not emotionally identify with the characters and that I would say is revealing as it seems that the filmmaker does not passively want you to get sucked into the emotional life of the story but remain detached enough to be an active viewer and participate in its unfolding. Also what makes Anurag’s films special is the Realism in them. But what I mean by realism is like what you would feel in a film by Satyajit Ray who has observed life and character’s closely and brings them alive in each scene nuances, uniqueness and an authentic truth which connects with the viewer (however I am not suggesting here that the experience of an Anurag film is close to the experience of a Ray film, far from that).
The Auteur and the writer
A very important aspect of an Auteur would be a director who is part of the conception and script of the film and in this regard Anurag is very closely involved in the creation of his work. In fact he started his career as a writer writing scripts in Mumbai (he wrote the script of Auto Shankar overnight which was loved by Sriram Raghavan and Shivam Nair) and got famous and recognized with his script Satya which he wrote for Ram Gopal Verma. Black Friday, his first feature film, was based on a book but the screenplay was by none other than Anurag. Now another dynamic sets into play, Anurag as an Auteur is not (or is not supposed)to be the sole originator of his work, it has in fact always been a practice that auteur directors including Truffaut have associated with other writers for the script and screenplay, sometimes to keep away from personal indulgence and many times because the idea or story is initiated or bought to the director by someone else who then with that merit being the best person who knows the world of the story should be present to be a partner in scripting the project. The film Gulaal has Raj Singh Chaudhury as a co scriptwriter. It was Raj Singh Chaudhury who bought the story to Anurag based on his experiences of college ‘ragging’ and its consequences. Raj says the story idea was his ( and he also suggested the film be set in Rajasthan) but the script and screenplay was by Anurag. No doubt Anurag connected with the story as he recalls in an interview to Tehelka in 2005 ” Scindia (school in Gwalior) was hell for me. The sexual abuse continued there for years. I hated myself. I couldn’t understand why it was happening to me. I was often picked out, beaten, then taken to the toilets. To save myself from the beatings, I’d give in to the abuse,” . Another fascinating aspect of Anurag’s script collaborators is that all of them are actors. Raj Chaudhury was also an actor and had in fact written the story keeping himself in mind. Anurag felt he would fit the character perfectly and in spite of other popular actors keen to play the role he cast Raj as one of the lead actors, Raj says he also helped in the scripting of No Smoking.
Dev. D is a collaborative effort too. The film was developed from a concept that Abhay Deol( who plays Dev, the main protagonist in the film) narrated to Anurag. “Core idea came from Abay, Abhay told me this idea of a boy lost in a strip bar in LA and this triggered off a lot of ideas I had in mind and showed the possibility of adapting Devdas.” “ …. The idea was to try and explore that adjective(Devdas) that it has become and through which I wanted to talk about the youth , I wanted to talk about how they look at love, life, relationships, in today’s day and age, the age of fast cars, fast cash, fast food, instant gratification. Does it really happen that people are longing for one woman for the rest of their lives because I don’t see that happening today. It has changed . So it was trying to explore all that by using Devdas as a medium.” Vikramaditya Motwane(assistant director of Sanjay Leela Bhansali and latter Anurag produced and co-wrote his debut film Udaan) was asked to write the first draft of the script and Anurag said he would take his draft and add his bits to it (From Eros extra features). Also what would be an important touch to the film would be that Anurag understands very well and has experienced being depressed and lost like the character Dev, of course for other reasons, a young boy who enters science and takes up zoology at the University of Delhi, dissatisfied with his choice, confused and depressed he takes to drugs and alcohol.
How do you measure popular mainstream cinema – its by the stereotypes and clichés that it adopts in its telling.
Dev D is backed by a major corporate house, who is encouraging alternate cinema catering mainly to the multiplex audience but not limited to them. Dev D is a modern reinterpretation to the classic Devdas (which has 12 film versions made of the Bengali novel written by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay). So the first rule that Anurag breaks from the popular cinema standard is ‘romanticizing’ the hero Devdas and he makes him into a very real practical contemporary youth of today. He also breaks the backbone of the character who epitomizes self pity to giving up drinking, discovering that love is not romantic ideas and does not die for Paro but chooses Chandramukhi instead and starts a new life. This is in fact one of Anurag’s rare films which has a positive, if we can call it, a happy ending, but never the less, seems real and not romanticized.
The sexual frankness given to the characters including the female characters is unlike popular formula films and the women are strong and determined not passive and docile. And the self-sacrificing Chandramukhi (played by Kalki Koechlin) that became the epitome of the character mold of the prostitute with a golden heart in Hindi cinema over the years was also broken, in fact her past life is also contemporary in its origin and is taken from a real incident and inspired from newspaper headlines.
Another important collaborator with Anurag has been Kalki Koechlin, she had been invited by Anurag to co-write the script of That Girl In Yellow Boots primarily because he knew that she would be able to give insights about the world that the film portrayed and also she is the key protagonist of the film. Where like other instances we have the actor-scriptwriter collaboration merging into itself.
Also this being a sensitive subject and theme close to Anurag’s heart and Kalki being his life partner who he credits to have rid him of his past pain adds another dimension to the film itself.
His recent film Gangs of Wasseypur (Part One) seems to have a long list of writers Zeishan Quadri, Akhilesh, SachinLadia, AnuragKashyap. But it was Quadri who bought the story to Anurag. Quadri’s deal was simple. He’ll write the script and play the character Definite, a key character in the second part of the two-part film.
“Though I was born in small town in northern India, I migrated to the city to make films, the city got to me and I went deeper in exploring it’s effect on me through my films until I met Zeishan. Zeishan was from Wasseypur and a few things that he told me about this place dragged me back to my roots, my backyard, my growing up and my tryst with Bollywood and the politics of my region.The few anecdotes that Zeishan shared with me of this place then went on to be retelling and an analysis of the history of the place explaining it’s evolution as a burning inferno and it’s fight for coal to the way battles were fought. From digging coal to killing someone over an innocuous brawl to vengeance being inherited. Part One of the film gets to the roots of the people and explains why they are the way they are.”(Anurag’s own words - GOW official website)
The Auteur and his style (visual)
Style or treatment of the film by a director is not necessarily consistent or easy to catch but some directors do have a distinctive style that can be recognized as a signature style of the artist in his body of work. Anurag Kashyap according to me has a characteristic way of using colour in his films and that becomes an integral part of his signature style which began from his first short film and continues till this day. In his visual palette we see the use of the three primary colours Red, Green, Blue and their combinations at various points. Besides being three primary colours we have the added dimension of the colours mostly appearing either desaturated or as part of the noir vocabulary of neon lights reminding us of the underbelly of society that we are exposed to in the films.
Below is a brief observation and analysis of Anurag’s colour palette in his films.
Anurag’s first short film Last Train to Mahakali (1999) ( a short film 45 minutes made for the television series ‘Star Best Sellers’) starts the film with a green desaturated tint while we are introduced to the main protagonist of the film a prisoner who is on death row. His present world in the prison seems to represent this colour. In fact green is repeated in No Smoking(2007) – In the film an important set or world of existence is the rehabiliatiton centre and the world of Baba Bengali who runs the rehabilitation centre (which is symbolic of the establishment) is presented in a desaturated green tint.
The film The Last Train to Mahakali does fleetingly play with blue and red but it is the end of the film which is red mixing with yellow, like a kind of an orange (which in fact is the common space occupied by the journalist and the prisoner) there seems to be a surreal (artificial) sunshine that fills the room on the chilling note that the film leaves you with.
In the film Black Friday (2004)the colour red seems to dominate which symbolizes anger to me besides the bloodshed and pain that it contains within itself as a colour not to forget the element of danger that the colour stands for and that at one level the filmmaker is alerting us about. Red is an important part of its title and credits and a red filter is used in significant scenes of the jail torture which enclose an important message of the film by the director. Anurag is said to have referred to those scenes saying that he wanted a green filter but since that was not available he went for the red filter instead. The filter was to reduce the realistic goriness of the scene but I feel it does more than that and fortunately since the green filter was not possible the red palette by default comes into play.The film has a special use of blue, rather in its de-saturated form, for the flashback sections specially where Dawood is shown and also to portray the treatment of the recreation of the pain and loss of the actual bomb blast which ends the film.
So if Black Friday begins with red and is about protest then so is the case with Gulaal(2009) where the chief color seems to be red. This film primarily uses red as an integral colour in the film right from the gulaal which is red in colour to certain sections of the inner haveli which are bathed in red light or a filter where there is a clash between characters who revolt. In this film red is also part of the costume palette which infact is part of many of his films but here they become symbolic, Prithvi Bana played by Piyush Mishra is dressed in red and his mythic Ardhanareshwar who follows him around is in blue (his body is painted in blue). The film has scenes where green and blue light are visible but red stands out as a primary symbolic colour of this film.
The film That Girl In Yellow Boots has yellow as one significant colour in its colour palette which is related to the boots which the protagonist wears on this journey in the film (it also appears in the title and credits titles). Yellow could represent hope for a brighter future, a joy the protagonist is searching for. But the film also has blue which is the other important colour and the note on which the film ends . To quickly glance though the world of the film – the massage parlour is predominantly green, Ruth the protagonist of the film has an apron which is green in colour. The last scene the client who we realize is her father has a blue towel ( however the towel is always blue for all clients)also we saw earlier the room where she discovered her father’s pictures (when she visited his home) also predominantly had blue walls. The film reaches its climax when Ruth confronts her client who she discovers is her father and his reaction to her truth shatters her into a state of shock and grief. It’s the end of the film which this sequence leads to which has an important use of the colour blue as symbolic yet part of the realistic setting of the film. After the confrontation with her father she walks into the corridor with a green light, then enters the streets which are yellow and when she sits in the taxi, her face is bathed with blue light (which is the light in the taxi as planned I assume) and the world outside which she leaves behind has a tinge of yellow and green. The last scene is the taxi ride, a minute long in duration where the camera remains with Ruth as a mid shot followed by a kind of jump cut mid close, and the audience remains focused on Ruth’s face bathed in blue light, she then shuts her eyes and the film fades to black.
The film Dev D is sprinkled with many colours starting primarily with green and yellow and then moving on to red, blue and most importantly pink that enters into this film with the character of Chandramukhi played by Kalki( Red + Green = Pink). Pink represents a very feminine colour at the same time is very punk . The film travels into the drug world of clubs and underbelly of Delhi and gives the makers to exploit the neon filled streets and existence of the colour that seems real, at times gaudy but symbolic. The concluding scenes have Dev and Chandramukhi bathed in a tint of a combination of red and yellow with a hint of pink( being the colour of the bathtub in which Dev is seated and the loffah with which Chandramukhi is gently scrubbing him). But the last scene however is natural colours with the sun shining through on the couple riding a bike.This film The Gangs of Wasseypur – Part One (2012) is subtle in its colour palette and merges with the real world but on keen observation it is prevalent. He chooses a palette for its production design to be predominantly green and blue. With a brief small scene in red and continuing the desaturated blue at many points. But at the end of the film which is the death of Sultan brilliantly played by Manoj Bajpai is the use of the colour yellow or rather the yellow of the sun going into white which with the death of the protagonist is symbolic of the fiery revenge which finally turns to nothingness. White is the combination of the three primary colours (Red +Blue +Green = White) and thus in his colour palette he is now critically poised already combined and merged all his colours. I do not suggest that this is necessarily consciously done but for me it plays out brilliantly. What next …
The Auteur and his collaborators
Since Anurag’s films have a distinct colour palette and the visual impact of the film being strong requires a special mention of Wasiq Khan as a Production Designer(responsible for the visual look of the film) and his two key cinematographers till date being Natrajan Subramanium (Last Train to Mahakali – Paanch – Black Friday)and Rajeev Ravi (No Smoking – Gulaal – Dev D – That Girl in Yellow Boots- Gangs of Wasseypur) who have contributed significantly to bring his vision to life.
‘Song and dance’ form a very integral grammar of popular Indian cinema and starting with Dev D Kashyap with the music director Amit Trivedi has reinvented the music soundtrack specially with the song ‘Emotional Atyachar’ (one of the important sources of reference for the song was Om Dar Ba Dar – an avant garde Indian film in the year 1988). Over the years a very distinct quality of an Anurag Kashyap film is his soundtrack that he has developed and this film is an important juncture for it to take off which reaches a new high in his latest film Gangs of Wasseypur(Part One) with the title track ‘kehke Longa’ and ‘Womaniya’ besides others . In this film Sneha Khanwalkar who has designed the music and song for the film ( besides the background score which is by G V Prakash Kumar) has added a special touch by including folk singers and tunes mixed with modern sophistication to give a vibrant dose of chatpatta music that brings alive the landscape of the story and characters. Song and dance is a powerful tool to enhance the emotional experience of the viewer which has its roots in ancient Indian arts and aesthetics and most of Indian popular cinema uses this to transform the viewer into a realm which is not imitating reality but experiencing emotional truth( what an item number does , can be another essay in itself ). However most of the songs in Anurag’s films are not limited to the emotional realm of realism but many times the songs are a commentary on the film’s theme, its plot, or its characters. The songs are rooted in Indian culture but yet are funky and reinterpreted in a postmodern vein. In this regard Piyush Mishra is also an important close collaborator in his films who wrote the lyrics for Black Friday and Gulaal, also being the music director for Gulaal. He also wrote some lyrics for Gangs of Wasseypur along with Varun Grover. (Piyush has also acted in many of Anurag’s films besides being a reputed actor himself, he played some memorable characters like Prithvi Bana in Gulaal and an important character role in GOW Part One). Each film having a unique identity and original soundtrack Black Friday had the special quality of the music of band Indian Ocean and with the film No Smoking Vishal Bharadwaj interpreted the surreal world on the soundtrack as an artist.
Another important collaborator is the editor -editor Aarti Bajaj edited many of Kashyap’s films including Last Train to Mahakali ,Paanch (unreleased), Black Friday, Dev D, Gulaal, No Smoking and shaped the films to a powerful experience. But from the film That Girl in Yellow Boots and his recent film Gangs of Wasseypur, Anurag has worked with Shweta Venkat Matthew (as I assume his personal life came in the way of the professional world and this collaboration broke up). Each of the two editors try to keep up with Anurag’s pace and rhythm for his films and the result is a highly charged film.
But I would say that like a true auteur he maintained his style in all departments of filmmaking irrespective of changes that took place and found the right individuals to fit his vision. Also at any given time there are many young aspiring filmmakers in his office wanting to learn and be part of the exciting world of filmmaking that Anurag represents to the Indian youth.
The Auteur and his influences from cinema
What has been the influences on Anuarg as an auteur besides his personal experiences, and here cinema itself plays a very important role. In his recent film Gangs of Wasseypur he mentions the influence of Tamil cinema, infact dedicates the film to ‘the 3 musketeers Ameer, Bala and Sasikumar, the sons of Madurai’ as he calls them. He says “I realized that these filmmakers are making their films in a milieu that’s so much familiar to them. This made me feel that even I have lots of stories to tell which belong to the place I belong to.” (Interview by Sethumadhavan.N featuring on the website www.madaboutmoviez.com).
But it was in 1993 in a film festival (which he was urged to attend by his friends) when he witnessed ‘A Retrospect of Vitterio De Sica Films’ (Bicycle Thieves is the film that influences him the most among the 55 films of De Sica), it was “an epiphany” he says which changed his life and he runs away from home with Rs 5,000 in his pocket and decides he wants to make films. The Screening of the film Taxi Driver by Martin Scorsese (on a tv screen in the office of Shivam Nair, Shriram Raghavan during his struggling years in Mumbai) was the beginning of another interesting phase. Pic Posters of Bicycle Thieves and Taxi Driver
Seeing films like Fun ,De Sica’s Films, Taxi Driver he says gave him confidence to make cinema as his voice was similar and other hindi films he saw he could not relate to, they were films not about him but some other people. Also the attraction to noir is that its about him too. Anurag says “Noir might mean different things to different people, but for me its an environment and a story of the underdog. We don’t pay attention to the people on the streets and just pass them by.” He thought cinema could be about that too. “I wanted to tell those kind of stories and these films gave me confidence.”
However Anurag ‘s work includes the influence of Bollywood, and in a post modern sense. Gulaal has for its inspiration a song from the Hindi classic film Pyaasa but the film builds on the original and adds a new dimension to it. In Gangs of Wasseypur Bollywood referencing is integral to its plot and characters – the film explores this revenge saga through the socio-political dynamic in erstwhile Bihar (North India), in the coal and scrap trade mafia of Wasseypur, through the imprudence of a place obsessed with mainstream ‘Bollywood’ cinema. This has a direct link to his childhood, when as a young boy in UP he was attracted to Hindi cinema from a very young age and repeatedly saw films (often visited the open air theatre or the Government theatre next to his house)like Kora Kagaazand Aandh iand latter Do Badaan in his college days.
The Auteur and acting
Another influence as a director is that Kashyap was an actor before being a director and a distinct quality of his film is strong and powerful performances which bring the film to life and seem real and truthful. Acting was something that he did while he was struggling to find his voice, he joins a theatre group Jana Natya Manch and performs street plays. This also helped him to meet people and its not therefore a coincidence that a lot of his collaborators specially his scriptwriters are actors who are attracted to work with him. He says “Instead of the actor performing for the camera, I let the camera capture the people….” A little known fact is that Manoj Bajpai was responsible for suggesting Anurag’s name to Ram Gopal Verma as a young scriptwriter for the film Satya (which got him a lot of fame) and Anurag does not forget to return the favour by casting Manoj in his recent big budget film Gangs of Wasseypur (which has helped Manoj bring back his acting career to the top after a low phase). Anurag like the rest of his team has been quite loyal to many of his characters like Kay KayMenon and Kalki but without compromising the film at any cost.
Where does Anurag Kashyap go from here – the real world and the world of cinema meet in his films, will one dominate the other – and how – and to what effect ? What form will his colour palette take on now, are the three primary colours going to be repetitive and boring or are they going to help telling a story and increasing its complexity of visual vocabulary ? Will the distinctive style of the songs in his films take on newer dimensions and reinvent themselves or will its novelty die out? Will the plot of revenge be a continuing fascination and lead to deeper insights ? Will the commentary of Indian politics and society be allowed to freely express itself, will it continue to cause a stir in the conscience of the youth ? What will Anurag Kashyap discover about himself and the world around him is what we the audience will have to wait and watch to see!
Anurag’s films are like a silent scream – real yet not raw, disturbing yet not deafening, shocking yet not depressing, violent yet not ugly, a hope hidden in a lamenting.
© Copyright Oorvazi Irani
First published on madaboutmoviez.com
Filed under: Art Appreciation | Tags: cinema, film education, film workshop, films, German New Wave, movies, oorvazi irani, Riddhiman Basu, The Tin Drum, world cinema
“THE TIN DRUM” : A Comparision between the Novel(1959) by Guntar Grass and the Film(1979) by Volker Schlondorff
Bergman believed that cinema should be independent of literature. However, more often than not, literature has inspired films and some of them have turned out to be great films indeed. One such film is ‘The Tin Drum’ (Die Blechtrommel), a German language film made by Volker Schlöndorff in 1979. It is based on nobel prize winner Gunter Grass’s novel of the same name. Grass’s work was a pioneer in European magical realism, was widely read and translated into many languages. Hence, the prospect of adapting it to celluloid was a very challenging one. It is generally agreed that Volker had succeeded in justifying the text and his film is a marvel on its own. It received Palme d’Or at Cannes(jointly with ‘Apocalypse Now’) in 1979. I would like to present a comparative study between the book and the film, highlighting the major differences between them:
1) The novel in three parts traces a period starting from before the rise of Hitler to after his fall and the reconstruction of Germany. The major events however take place not in Germany, but in Danzig which geographically lies between Germany and Poland and has often been shuffled from being a free state to being under the German or the Polish rule. This is the focus for the first 2 parts. However, in the 3rd part of the novel, the focus shifts to Dusseldorf in Germany and reflects the problems Grass himself faced due to the displacement and his inability to adapt to postwar Germany.
The movie on the other hand restricts itself to the first 2 parts of the book and concerns itself with the rise and fall of Nazism on Danzig. It successfully maintains an ambience of black humor that is a characteristic of the book.
2) The book starts with 30 year old Oskar in a mental asylum, narrating the story of his life. For a major part of the novel, Oskar himself is the narrator. However, in the 3rd part, the onus of narration shifts to the warden and a friend of Oskar’s. Through these passages narrated by others, Grass has hinted that the protagonist could be an unreliable narrator, thereby playing with our perception. This aspect of the novel has been generally understood as a metaphor for the inherent indeterminacy of the period of Hitler’s Nazi reign. Moreover, if we consider Oskar’s unreliability, it could challenge the very premise of magical realism. This sort of a literary experimentation adds to the credibility of the novel apart from its importance as an allegory.
In the film however, this unreliability of narration is omitted along with the 3rd part of the book. It also begins with the narration of Oskar, but the director deliberately eludes the part of the asylum. The omission of the 3rd part of the book in the movie is an apt choice in my opinion, since the premise of the film is the chronicle of Danzig and a satire on Nazism. The depiction of Oskar as an unreliable narrator would have diverted the theme of the movie to a large extent.
3) Oskar’s drums and his drumming action come across as a unspoken language of protest. Apart from this, they serve a few important purposes in the novel. Firstly they act as a chronicle of his life and events surrounding him. In the book, it is mentioned that, all the old broken drums are stored in the cellar of their house, each with a number label. A diary is maintained in the cellar which records the life span of each of them, i.e the time during which they were functional. In his narrative, Oskar often mentions drumming up past events. Therefore his drumming also acts as a reconstruction of people and events that have gone by. Secondly, his drum is a means to induce chaos in order. The Nazi party gatherings at the rostrums are disrupted by his incessant drum beating. He makes them dance to his rhythm, thereby breaking down the orderliness of the Nazis.
The first utility of the drum is not present in the movie. However the other aspect of the drum is brilliantly translated to celluloid. The sequence of Oskar hiding under the rostrum, playing his drum from there, the crowd and even the leaders drifting into a waltz in spite of themselves, is one of the most memorable sequences in the movie. This phenomenon of relapsing into disorderliness, or rather a higher order consisting of waltz rhythm is a satirical reference to the imposed artificiality of the Nazi regime under Hitler, which is easily broken down through human instinct.
4) Oskar’s abilities with his voice are the most significant elements of magical realism in the novel. According to the book, Oskar’s voice is capable of generating two types of sounds, one a high pitched scream that can shatter glass, another an inaudible frequency with which, he can silently cut through glass. We need to look at the two of them separately. The incidents of shattering glass come across as expressions of fury, and happen whenever Oskar gives vent to his anger. The silent glass-cutting voice and its consequences on the other hand, serve to symbolize an important aspect of history known as ‘Kristallnacht’. In the book, Oskar describes that during winter, at the dead of the night, he would sneak out and use his inaudible voice to make circular incisions in shop windows and then use the power of his voice to topple the incised portions. These shops would contain tempting materials such as jewelry or thick fur coats(tempting for someone who is freezing on a winter night) etc. He would wait in the dark and observe the passers-by, most of who would be tempted to take them away. He called this game ‘playing the tempter’. This activity resulted in broken glass windows. ‘Kristallnacht’, also referred to as the ‘Night of Broken Glass’, or ‘Reichskristallnacht’, was a series of coordinated attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on 9–10 November 1938, carried out by SA paramilitary and civilians. German authorities looked on without intervening. The attacks left the streets covered with broken glass from the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings, and synagogues, thereby earning such a name.
In the movie however, Oskar can mostly scream and shatter glass. The events of Oskar playing the tempter are not present; hence the metaphor of ‘Kristallnacht’ is also lost. However, the actual events of ‘Kristallnacht’ are illustrated through the example of Sisigmund Markus and his toy shop.
The events of shattering glass are portrayed diligently and their relation with Oskar’s rage is commendably elucidated.
5) The phenomenon of Oskar’s remaining physically stunted during the Nazi reign and accidentally induced into an unnatural growth phase after the end of Nazi reign is, according to me, a metaphor for the oppression of the non-Germans in Danzig during the Nazi rule and the half-hearted reconstruction of Germany in the postwar period, from the perspective of the book. In general, Oskar’s magical powers, his sexual prowess and his adulthood in an apparently child-like outward appearance are a metaphor for the hidden horrors of the Nazi regime. According to the 3rd part of the book, he looses his powers and even his potency, after he starts growing. This could very well symbolize the downfall of the Third Reich and the plight of postwar Germany.
However, since the movie ends with part 2 of the book, the problems of New Germany do not come into its context. From the perspective of the movie, the metaphor of stunted growth will have the same implication as in the novel. However, the phenomenon of Oscar growing up can have only one interpretation (since the problems of that growth phase are not touched upon in the movie), the liberation of Danzig and the downfall of Nazi party. The metaphor for the horrors of Nazi regime would also apply here.
6) Finally, I would like to point out one improvement in the movie as compared to the book, based on my observations. Regarding the incident of the eels, in the novel, Agnes refuses to eat the eels and Alfred throws them in the dustbin to console her. In the movie however, Jan and Alfred persuade her to eat the eels. Agnes’s consequent fetish for eating fish that ultimately results in her untimely demise is thus better reasoned in the movie than in the book
This is not an exhaustive list of differences between the novel and the film. However, we must accept the film as an independent work of art and appreciate it from that standpoint. Whenever a novel is adapted into a film, the director’s interpretation of the narrative makes certain deviations or omissions necessary. However, the most important aspect for such a film is to capture the core spirit of the book. In this regard, Volker Schlöndorff has shone brightly, making this movie a part of the timeless world classics.
The Author was invited by me to write this post
About the Author Riddhiman Basu:
A software engineer by profession, yet an individual with varied passions. Literature and Music have been his passions since childhood. He has had formal training in Indian Classical music as well as Rabindrasangeet. Cinema as a passion came later, but soon caught up with the others. Starting with the likes of Ray and Ghatak, he has now moved on to the arena of world cinema.
References for the Article:
Filed under: Art Appreciation | Tags: acting, Acting training, actor, Anthony Hopkins, Bandini, cinema, hollywood, indian cinema, limewire, Michael Chekhov, oorvazi irani, pandora, Sanjay Nath steam
The Actor’s VOID
I began my acting stint at a very early age, won many awards in various plays through school and college for dramatics, elocution and poetry recitals.
Later I came to Bombay in the early 80’s. Pearl Padamse and Jalal Agha took a liking towards me and introduced me to Modeling and commercial theater. I did various print and T.V commercials along the way and continued with the workshops and plays under her guidance.
I have later trained as a voice over with Darrpan and then with Steve Hudson, in his patent technique named the P.S.R (presentation and reading skills)“Voice Master” who has been training Voice Over artists and actors like Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, Dame Judy Dench, and Tom Hanks in his technique and the importance of Voice acting. I have dubbed over 50 Hollywood movies in Hindi and other foreign films.
This helped me to a very large extent to once again brush up my skills as an actor and have later been training aspiring actors in the importance of voice acting and voice exercises for an actor.
I have been the voice over for Times Now, and lent my voice to several launches and presentations including the prestigious V.Shantaram Awards 5 consecutive years.
On television I have had the opportunity to play different shades and received appreciation relatively from “Left right left”, Mahabharat, Bandini, Koi aaney KO hai, Crime Patrol, and Khottey Sikkey. And 2 movies with Shahid Kapoor – Paathshala and Chance pe Dance.
I have in the course of time kept working on finessing my skills, and attended various acting workshops. My father always said “That Man is a Student throughout his life” and I believe not because they were wise words from a father to son, but because I realized it.
I always felt a great void in me apart from all the appreciation I kept getting for my work, it constantly bothered me. I read various techniques on acting but this did not fill my void, as the technique itself felt void.
I have great admiration for Anthony Hopkins and regard him amongst the finest actors, primarily for his outstanding performance in “Silence of the Lambs” I must have watched the movie for the very sake over a dozen times and yet the character excites me as much. I asked myself what made him so believable, what do great actors do to be so? And the ease is so, as if “the character himself was the actor not the other way around”.
How do I create this magic? I needed to understand this at a deeper level and on a very spiritual plane.
While doing some research I found an interesting link amongst some greats like Anthony Hopkins to Johnny Depp and that was – Michael Chekhov.
I began on my quest and read all I could online whilst I began searching for his books and willed there was someone in Mumbai who taught the Chekhov technique just then an advert of Oorvazi popped up on my screen.
I truly relished each day of the course. Being a trainer myself I am aware that retention span of a student does not last beyond 20 minutes, however 6 hours felt less. I have thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and gained immensely. Chekhov training has connected me more spiritually as an actor, adapting a character, living him believably, portraying him with ease and consistently is where the magic is.
Chekhov’s training helps mould the body into pure work of art; it makes you the Master craftsmen, architect, enabling oneself to create characters beyond the realm of imagination. I often experienced a stressful state while and after playing a certain character, and by doing so it affects us to a great deal psychologically.
I have recently read an article about a young girl who had acted in a documentary film to promote awareness on growing suicide, took the extreme step herself.
Chekhov trains an actor to create that imaginary body of the character with tools therefore reversing the process of straining the mental self to alter the physical state. Therefore using Chekhov techniques we apply tools to the physical self to then alter the mental state thus without harming and effecting the mind, and it is easy to switch off from the character after the scene, and consequently not carrying the baggage and emotions, stress of the character into ourselves and our daily lives.
I have finally found the tools to fill my void, and I know it will take immense practice and effort to master these tools, the tools for the kill I would rather say and each kill will be different from the other, each time I will explore a new tool and probably a combination of them, and that is what makes this a great technique and it is limitless hence opening infinite dimensions for the artist.
I had wonderful experience learning with Oorvazi, and I am now looking forward to other sessions with her and the advanced course as well, she is an outstanding trainer who understands the art well.
Sanjay Nath attended Oorvazi Irani’s Michael Chekhov Acting Technique
Course, January 2012
Filed under: FILM REVIEW show - Talking Cinema | Tags: bela tarr, cinema, film, film education, film educationalist, film review, film workshop, oorvazi, The Turin Horse
OORVAZI TALKING CINEMA , A Film Review Show – EPISODE 5
“The Turin Horse” a film by Bela Tarr
Filed under: Film/Acting Family Speak | Tags: cinema, film appreciation, film education, films, harishchandrachi factory, marathi new wave, movie, oorvazi, oorvazi irani, Rasik Tirodkar, umesh Kulkarni, vihir
Marathi New wave
A Special Article by Rasik Tirodkar
Started from Shwaas…Mainly first time directors…coincided with state funding…most people from theatre background…many people from Pune…
The consistency with which quality Marathi films are being churned out in the last 7-8 years definitely deserves an identification. The significance of the films with respect to world cinema might be minuscule, but the shift from only cheap comedies and formulaic in the 80s & 90s to a cinema which has a conscience and at the same time an artistic leaning is definitely worth some attention. But there still hasn’t been a name for this renaissance of sorts. The National Centre For Performing Arts in Mumbai, being true to its reputation has been wide-eyed enough to notice this significant change in Marathi cinema. They have been organising a film festival for the past 3 years showcasing quality Marathi films made in that respective year. The name given to the wonderful event is ‘Nave Valan’ which roughly translates to ‘a new turn’ or ‘a change in tracks’. This has been the only major attempt to identify the whole lot of films with a name. But this sobriquet feels like a Marathi equivalent of the term ‘New Wave’ which the French Cinema of the late 50s and 60s was famously called. So for the time being, due to lack of ingenuity, one has to make do with the borrowed title of ‘New Wave’.
The Marathi New Wave doesn’t have a common cinematic thread like the Italian Neo-realistic movement. But a conscious effort to push boundaries is definitely visible. Gandha(The Smell) written and directed by Sachin Kundalkar is an apt example. The film has three independent stories that are not intertwined and are told in the most linear manner. The only common link being that the protagonists in each of the three stories are going through an experience deeply involving the sense of smell. Now, the sense of smell being explored through cinema is rare not only in India but in all of world cinema. Gandha succeeds handsomely in its attempt to use smell as a cinematic tool and thus becoming a landmark film in the whole of Indian cinema.
Then there are a string of films on socially relevant topics like the Vikram Gokhale directed Aaghaat which is a fine effort to portray the racket in the private health industry with some high credible performances. The most favourite social topic seems to be rural poverty mainly based in Vidarbha. Baboo Band Baaja is a unique story of Jaggu, a bandwallah in rural Vidarbha, and his family’s attempt to break the shackles of poverty. Aarambh by writer-director Akshay Datt deals with child abuse in the most sensitive manner. Satish Manwar’s brilliant Gabhricha Paus(The Damned Rain) is a tale of a cotton farmer’s struggle to grow cotton in Vidarbha and it easily stands out among the socially relevant films. Gabhricha Paus is not only beautifully shot but the grim story is masterfully interlaced with ‘dark humour’ which is again rare in Indian cinema. Gajendra Ahire’s films (around 20 of them in the last eight years) are almost always made with a social awareness.
Harishchandrachi Factory, directed by Paresh Mokashi, is a film which gives a very fresh treatment to a bio-pic. Taking a cue from Roberto Benigni’s ‘Life is Beautiful’, the efforts put in by Dadasaheb Phalke to make India’s first feature film, Raja Harishchandra, have been displayed by adopting a humourous approach which is also slapstick at times. But never does the film undermine the significance of the event. Dadasaheb who was reportedly a jolly fellow couldn’t have got a better tribute.
The one kind of films Indian cinema has completely neglected until the recent past would be films for children. Pakpakpakkak starring Nana Patekar is one such lovely piece of cinema meant for children. Gautam Joglekar, the director, has beautifully included a social message that fits into the story without even a hint of being preachy.
Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni’s Vihir is probably the most celebrated film of the lot. It is an incisive exploration of the existential crisis which adolescents tend to grow through. The striking feature of the film would be making the visuals speak for themselves, a peculiar quality of cinema that was majorly unexplored by Marathi filmmakers. Great filmmakers like Satyajit Ray have felt that cinema majorly being a visual art, it is the visuals as a whole that should be used more prominently to convey a thought than only the background score or the dialogues which is usually the case with Indian films. In that context Vihir, Gabhricha Paus, Harishchandrachi Factory and Gandha can be held the most significant of the Marathi New Wave.
First time Directors
Like the youth being the heart of most movements the recent spate of Marathi films also have been made by young directors who weren’t seen in the 90s. Young minds with fresh ideas have been the face of the ‘Marathi New Wave’.
In complete contrast with the notion of jealousy and egos that is associated with a film industry, this young brigade has formed a kind of a brotherhood where cinema is worshiped. It is not unusual to find a Girish Kulkarni writing the script of Vihir and also acting in Gabhricha Paus and Gandha. Sudhir Palasane and Amalendu Chaudhary have been cinematographers for a number of these films. It is also quite common to find the names of these young men and women in the ‘special thanks’ section in the credits of each others films.
Impact of Theatre
Many people involved in making the films mentioned above like Sachin Kundalkar, Satish Manwar, Paresh Mokashi have formerly been involved in theatre. Marathi theatre has a rich history. In Maharashtra, unlike cinema, theatre has been a medium which the more thoughtful audiences have approved of. The spirited Maharashtrian youth who wanted to share their ideas with the world more often than not chose theatre as a medium over cinema. Thus in the last 50-60 years the quality of Marathi Theatre is way above the cinema during the same period. This young talent in theatre has now spilled over into cinema. Probably the modern art of cinema has caught their attention due to the exposure to cinema from across the world first through the advent of cable television and then the internet and also the film festivals which had caught on in India by the late 90s.
But the impact of theatre is most visible in the acting department. The strong performances across the board that Marathi cinema boasts of must be credited to theatre as almost all actors are the export of theatre. Of them Neena Kulkarni, Jyoti Subhash, Sonali Kulkarni, Vikram Gokhale being the most famous ones.
This is a feature which it shares with the French New Wave. Marathi films are given grants by the state government. From nearly shutting down in the 90s, today one can say that commercially Marathi Cinema is in a much better position. The policy of giving grants to Marathi films seems to have worked on this count. But it has also given way to a trend which is detrimental to its interest. It has been observed that some producers recover their money through grants and thus don’t care to promote the film resulting into very few people actually seeing it in a cinema hall and thus defeating the purpose of making the film in the first place. Vihir, for example, was inadequately promoted during its release and even after more than a year of its release there is no sight of its DVD.
Coming out of the shadow of Bollywood
Though Mumbai is the capital of Maharashtra, the city of Pune can be called the cultural capital of the state. Expectedly, directors from the current lot like Umesh Kulkarni and Sachin Kundalkar and even actors like Sonali Kulkarni, Amruta Subhash hail from Pune. Also, premier film institutions like FTII and NFAI are based in the city. Some recent movies are even shot in Pune and other parts of Maharashtra like Kolhapur, indicating a shift back to the two cities which were also home to legendary production companies of the black-white and silent era like the Prabhat Film Company and Maharashtra Film Company. The presence of ‘Bollywood’ in Mumbai has always intimidated the Marathi Film Industry as it has failed to match the big budgets and nation-wide distribution of Hindi films. Also, unlike states in the southern part of India, Hindi as a language is widely understood in Maharashtra adding to the woes. With recent trend of shooting films with budgets of around 5croresin studios outside Mumbai one can say that Marathi Cinema is slowly managing to come out of the shadow of Bollywood.
Finally, it is also necessary to understand that though good films are being made at regular intervals, the number of low quality Marathi films being made is still high. It may be because very few of the films discussed have been lapped up by the masses. The commercial fail is understandable but neither have them been acclaimed by the mainstream Marathi or even the national media. Noticeably, directors like Paresh Mokashi, Satish Manwar, Gautam Joglekar and Akshay Datt haven’t yet come up with their second films. Sachin Kundalkar’s next film is in Hindi. Marathi cinema buffs would only hope that this kind of a dream run doesn’t meet its end so soon.
Filed under: FILM REVIEW show - Talking Cinema | Tags: Cannes film festival, cinema, film, film appreciation, film education, film review, nuri bilge ceylan, once upon a time in anatolia, oorvazi irani, world cinema
Talking Cinema (A Film Review Show)
My pick of films from the
13th Mumbai Film Festival 2011
“Once Upon A Time In Anatolia”
Filed under: Film/Acting Family Speak | Tags: cinema, digital academy, digital film school, film, film appreciation, film education, mumbai university, oorvazi, oorvazi irani, post graduate diploma in film and television
I fall in love all over again
With every batch there is a meeting and then a parting and each remains a cherished memory. I share with you today one such meeting and parting.
They presented me with a small token of love (the image below) and I am sharing my response to their feedback to my film appreciation 10 sessions at Digital Academy – the Post Graduate Diploma in Film and Television 2011 batch
You gave me the joy of being a teacher
‘Enlightenment with entertainment’
It was fun and learning for me too
‘Woke up to a completely different world of cinema’
Privileged to be able to open new windows and doors through which you will expand your horizons of thought and living
‘Thankyou for your rebellious film talk’
Being an artist, I feel art is very much an integral part of cinema/film and glad you found some of it rebellious and exciting
‘Changed my perception about art cinema’
Very happy that I was instrumental in being able to create a perception of art cinema which you appreciated
‘The sea of knowledge’
The world of cinema is an infinite ocean and swimming in it is very pleasurable
‘You are so pure, will miss you for sure’
The innocent child inside me wants to expresses itself and that I guess is the pure you refer to. I am glad you met that self.
‘Thankyou for the lovely class’
Every gesture, every smile, every twinkle in the eye, every whisper is still fresh in my memory. Thankyou for the lovely experience
‘Got knowledge with entertainment and master of simplification’
I feel the process of reaching the essence is an important process and so happy that it helped you and you appreciate it
‘Experienced the growing child named cinema’
Great ! A child that we hope keeps growing each passing day
‘Moonwalk with excitement’
The class is like a dance where each side (one side is the teacher, one side the student) makes their move and with each step the dance progresses and takes form
‘Expressing beauty with intelligence’
The creative, mysterious and rational, logical – a fine balance between the two worlds is important to me and nice that you perceived the two worlds with me.
Cinema is a fantasy which is a parallel reality and is very powerful
‘Passing ray of shine of which I got an opportunity to become a part of’
Hope this little ray of light reminds you of the joy and pleasure of cinema always
‘Got some meaningful information and knowledge through black and white period’
B&W is so beautiful, as an artist once said it is a canvas which takes you to a reality which is beyond the mundane
‘Ma, the concept in Japanese culture taught me a new way of watching cinema’
Ancient cultural roots and ways of perception are valuable and its an honour to be able to shed light on something deep and precious.
‘The keeda has been planted I hope it spreads’
I hope this keeda grows into a magical spirit that consumes you with the joy to create and appreciate
Filed under: Film Musings | Tags: acting, cinema, cinema workshop, film, Film Apppreciation, film educationalist, film workshop, interview, Kishore Namit Kapoor Acting Institute, Michael Chekhov Acting Technique, oorvazi irani, Voicesnviews
I am happy to share with you my journey towards cinema and acting teaching. And it would be a great pleasure to receive your feedback.
This E Channel is conceived and produced by someone special, Indu Raaman who is part of my Film Appreciation Family. And through her I came in contact with the rest of the team who have together with Indu created this e weekly channel ‘VOICESNVIEWS’ – her daughter Ruupa Raaman and her son in law Bhuvanesh Shetty.
The experience of shooting the interview with the lovely team was loaded with warmth, passion and sincerity.
1)OORVAZI IRANI PART ONE – JOURNEY INTO CINEMA.wmv
2) OORVAZI IRANI PART TWO – FILM APPRECIATION.wmv
3) OORVAZI IRANI – PART THREE – MICHAEL CHEKHOV ACTING TECHNIQUE.wmv
Filed under: Professional Talk | Tags: cinema, Farrukh Dhondy, film, film appreciation, film education, film workshop, oorvazi irani, screenplay, script
Interview: Farrukh Dhondy, Author, Screenwriter
By Oorvazi Irani • Apr 18th, 2009
Oorvazi Irani speaks with noted author and screenwriter Farrukh Dhondy as part of Understanding Cinema series first published for the web portal Dear Cinema.
Oorvazi Irani: As you are a short story writer, novelist, journalist, playwright and a screenplay writer when you embark on your work and more particularly on a screenplay do you frame and keep one central premise?
Farrukh Dhondy: I don’t think I ever start with an abstract premise — like ‘love conquers all’. I usually start with a story that someone wants to commission — remember that film is an industry and not merely an art form so a lot of the work doesn’t come from the mind of writers but from producers and commercial investors with dreams and plans — OR with a story I feel has to be written. A novel is completely different. Very often a film stats with a character whose journey through a phase one wants to explore — Bandit Queen, Billy Eliot, Schindler’s List….Gladiator…
How do you go about creating and building a character?
Characters are always based on observation. This doesn’t restrict you to mimicking one person in your prose, but using your observation of the inner life of people, sometimes several people, to arrive at a character who will act and speak in a particular way. Particularity is all. Some writers lapse into ‘invention’ rather than observation and then you get fable rather than a novel — think of Salman Rushdie’s ‘people’. Contrast the inventions of Dickens or Rudyard Kipling!
When contrasted and compared the novel and play with the screenplay – movies are stories told in pictures, and while the action and dialogues are integral parts of the screenplay, the storyline unfolds through the visual images ..
A film is never a novel. It’s a short story which takes one character through a series of events which results in a revelation that all of us need. the character learns something about life, sometimes the hard way. Slumdog is an example of a child growing up and learning right from wrong and keeping alive with the idea of a single love. Schindler’s list is a cynic turned into a human through his contact with human suffering. The idea that cinema tells a story through images is wrong! The silent movies used exaggerated stage expressions to tell the story and even then had captions for speech. The captions couldn’t contain the complexity of human thought and nuance and therefore the plots had to be simple. Cinema came of age when sound became integral — speech is the avatar of thought, the child of the mind and the leading component of film. A good film maker will see that the visuals are both what we expect and startling. only ‘art’ film-makers’ will use visuals as symbols, sometimes ones that a public will not grasp and that’s why some art film directors end up as a joke or are seen as pretentious!
The plot is the first consideration, and as it were, the soul of the tragedy.
Character holds the second place. – Aristotle wrote in his Poetics. What is the significance of plot and character to you and which of the two according to you takes the narrative forward in a screenplay.
I don’t think one can separate the two in modern film. Greek theatre was a form through which the actions and the will of Gods and people were made manifest. They followed the old stories, already formulated. Aeschylus and Euripides took stories of Oedipus and Electra which were already known so the plot became supreme. Our films descend not from legend but from the tradition of observation and novel-writing and from our contemporary myth-making. An example of the latter is the cowboy myth. Nowhere except in the early settlement of America could an agricultural operative who cleaned up bullshit and watered the cattle become the hero who brings righteousness to the land. These myth were invented and then stories and characters fitted in to make different ‘Westerns’. we then have the myth of machine-men Superman, Batman, people capable of doing things which only machines can– like flying and having the strength to smash buildings etc.
But other films (not Bollywood, which is based on debased myths) are based on character suggesting plot.
Do you believe in a Post Modern structure for a screenplay which is being said to have started with the films of Pulp Fiction, English Patient…. Syd Field says “there might be something larger going on, a new consciousness and awareness in approaching the craft of screenwriting” . What is your personal take.
I don’t think Syd Field knows what he is talking about. The Post-Modernists are confidence tricksters who make money out of the ignorance of their readers and subscribers. Pulp fiction was Tarantino’s continuing fascination with violence which he knew a modern audience would share. English Patient is a classical story of an illegitimate love defeated by history — is it all that different from Dr. Zhivago?
According to Akira Kurosawa “A good structure for a screenplay is that of a symphony, with its 3 or 4 movements and differing tempos. Or one can use the noh play with its three-part structure: jo (introduction), ha (destruction) and kyu (haste)”. Do you agree with this statement and how would you incorporate it in your screenplay.
I wouldn’t follow these fanciful formulae. Kurosawa is thinking of Tchaikovsky or Beethoven or the classic and romantic symphonies. It sounds good but it doesn’t work because very often the movements of these symphonies are self-sufficient in their themes and melodies.
I would rather follow the play structure set out by Shakespeare or Chekhov or Bernard Shaw. A story should tell itself. The film should make you want to watch it from the first minute — so it should introduce a dilemma in which we want to participate. The first act then gives us the characters and ramifications of the dilemma — we are setting he character on the journey in search of love or revenge or redemption or whatever. The second act usually incorporates an event which precipitates a choice. Then in the third we see the consequences of that choice and undergo an epiphany which tells us something we knew, but didn’t quite know we knew!.