Filed under: SBI Impresario Films Online | Tags: 100 years of Indian cinema, feminism and films, film appreciation, film education, film workshop, guru dutt, indian cinema critique, indian cinema tribute, madaboutmoviez, MAM, meena kumari, oorvazi irani, Piya aiso jiya mein
Its a joy to share with you my latest short experimental one minute film, a humble tribute and critique to Indian cinema. Please read the interview conducted by MAM (madabout moviez.com) which helps share my thoughts about the idea behind the making of the film and helps put the film in context which might seem apparently simple on first viewing. The interview is right below this film window and please do read it.
MAM interviews Oorvazi Irani, the filmmaker and actress of “Piya Aiso Jiya Mein”
Q: This is an unusual yet original short film. What thoughts prompted this cinematic experiment?
O- A: Primarily there is so much hype around the 100 years of Indian Cinema, I thought how can I make a meaningful artistic comment in a concise manner which is both a tribute and a critique at the same time. Hence this idea was born.
Q: The film seems very simple at the surface and the viewer could easily miss the point, but the work has an interesting thought and is obviously complex with multiple layers unfolding, can you elaborate a bit about the thinking behind the film and the cinematic form you have used? And can we call it a musical?
O-A: Let me start by saying that any work of Art prompts and evokes the viewer to ‘see’, ‘look’ and ‘perceive’ the subject of the work in this case Indian Cinema in a fresh new light – Art takes you intuitively to the heart of the subject while experiencing beauty. More like a poem or a painting. Here for example there is the beauty of the music, the close up of the eternal human face, the eyes which express the inner mental state, the mirror motif etc.
Yes you are right by defining it as a musical as it is the song that drives the film which embodies the emotion and the progression of the film. ‘Song’ itself is a very unique and integral part of Indian cinema which is put into play in my experimental short film and is my chosen mould to explore as an artist.
The film is akin to a love poem with the theme being the ‘quest for the beloved’, however there is a character graph and the protagonist is transformed in the end.The song as you know is iconic from Guru Dutt’s film Sahib Biwi Aur Gulam and I have replaced the image of the legendary actress Meena Kumari and deliberately used my face which is then a universal representative of all females and have taken the avatar of the ‘Nayika’(heroine). I have kept the first lines of the song from the original which I have lip synced and the last section has my voice with the message. The line with the message is my original line camouflaged in the song lyrics. In the process the film begins with paying a tribute to the beauty and charm of Indian cinema and then ends on a note of expressing the desires for change – the liberation of the identity of women in Indian cinema.
Q: The film does not have elaborate sets, locations or characters but is focused on one individual and that too in close-up with just one prop. Were you apprehensive about its appeal?
O-A: No! As I believe an artist needs to set up certain creative limitations, these are the challenges that then help create a unique work. The choices that you make are then what make it special. We see so many films that have big sets and big budgets but maybe do not leave you with a stimulating thought to ponder. The choice of the close-up was because besides it being an important form of the original iconic song itself it helps the filmmaker to draw attention to the beauty and grace of the minute expressions of the face and the emotions are expressed through the language of the eyes which is rare in contemporary cinema.Today I feel more and more that the ‘female body’ has replaced the ‘face’ in songs in Indian cinema stressing the physicality ‘Love as sex’and with this is lost the depth of emotion. The personality of the heroine is more about her sexuality than her as a human being, commoditized. Liberating the role of women in cinema is not just about making her sexually active but instead more about treating her as an individual, giving her gender equality.The Indian women still remains caged in the patriarchal system of oppression –of individual self-worth, and their identity is limited and dependent to the male. This is a strong message that the film subtlety puts out.
Also the close-up was necessary and part of the exploration as the film is dealing with the ‘Shringar Rasa’ (one of the key Rasas in the ancient Indian treatise on Indian art – The Natya Shastra) of union and separation in Love and finally discovering that ‘Self’ and ‘Truth’ is truly finding the beloved. The film is to be understood in the context of the nuances of this rasa where Love is far beyond just physical eroticism but envelopes the beauty of the experience of Love and the movements of eyebrows, eyeballs, sweet glances and delicate smile, along with down cast glances and closing of eyes – is a vocabulary beyond words and the Natya Shastra is rich with minute descriptions of ‘glances’ as a whole exploration – some of the glances for transitory states are Lajjanvita(bashful), Lalita (amorous), Ardhamukula(joy or bliss)which are humbly touched upon in my small experiment besides other aspects.
The simple motif of the mirror in the film plays an integral role and is charged, in it lays the clue of the transformation and discovery of ‘Self’.
Finally an artist creates the work and thus created is an expression of a labour of love, the audience adds their own self to it and accepts and completes it or rejects the work and leaves it as an incomplete communication. I have no problem if the audience cannot identify with my work but I feel the audience needs to understand the context with which the film is to be viewed and then accept or reject it.
Q: And lastly, can you tell us why did you choose this particular Meena Kumari song ?
O- A: Meena Kumari fascinates me as a persona on screen and in real life. She has a very strong presence and her eyes are soulful. She is one of the few actresses who haunt you with her beauty and pathos. Meena Kumari has been an iconic actress during the golden era of Indian cinema. Her persona embodies the ’eternal yearning’ for the beloved both in real and reel life, and I wanted to pay her a tribute by completing her story and liberate her at least in the creative realm with this short experimental film.
First published on madaboutmoviez.com
Filed under: Film/Acting Family Speak | Tags: Adhiraj Bose, documentary, documentary film, documentary on cannabis, film appreciation, film education, film workshop, film workshop mumbai, oorvazi irani
DOCUMENTARY ON ‘CANNABIS/CHARAS’
A documentary featuring Naseeruddin Shah as an integral voice in the film along with other interesting characters and experts explores the issues revolving around the illegal cultivation of cannabis (the biological name for the derivative plant for charas or marijuana) in the Himachal Pradesh state of India.
A large section of people feel that cannabis, the holy weed, should be legalized for a number of reasons. ‘Goonj’ goes into the depth of the layers involved in the decision of legalization and cultivation of this weed.
It was a great joy to see this documentary by Adhiraj Bose who was part of my film appreciation family a few years ago. He is indeed a talented young filmmaker and it is my pleasure to share his documentary with you (entire film link enclosed at the end of this interview) and my interview with the young man.
1. How would you describe yourself?
I guess I’d have to say that I’m an aspiring director who is looking out to someday make the films I love and tell the stories I want to tell. But having said that, there’s a long journey before that where I just want to learn and gather as much knowledge as possible by working and observing.
2. What was the germ of the idea for this documentary and why this subject?
The idea was to make a documentary about a contemporary issue in a particular state in India which many people may not know about in depth.
This subject was extremely intriguing since the plant ‘cannabis’, the cultivation of which is illegal in India because is considered synonymous to drugs like charas and marijuana, in fact had several interesting dimensions to it. As we read and researched more about it, we felt the compelling need to dig further into the subject.
3. The biggest challenge in making it?
There were a few. But I guess the most crucial ones were getting people to speak freely about a taboo topic like this, and the locations that we had to reach out to for shooting (like the secluded Malana village in the Himalayan region).
4. How was your project funded?
It was completely out of our own pockets. There were primarily 10 of us working on it and each one of us contributed equally to the total budget.
5. How do you plan to reach out with your film, who is your key audience?
This film’s primary motive is awareness. It’s an educative approach towards something that’s considered either recreational or illegal by the respective sections of people. So our target audience is nearly everyone in India or beyond. People who are either interested or talk or hear about the legalization of cannabis and and want to know the deep rooted issues involved.
6. Is there a similarity between documentary and fiction, do you feel the lines meet?
Yes I do feel there are similarities. Several, starting from the same 3 stages of pre-production, production and post production in both fiction and documentary while making them, to the same primary motive of both to provide your audience with something relevant that they would be interested in sitting through, and may be even revisiting.
One of the similarities as far as the making is concerned that I find most interesting is that, just like there is the crucial step of casting involved in a fiction film, similarly a documentary also involves a different kind of casting. It involves the key people that you really need in your documentary because of the credible knowledge they have.
7. What has your experience working with directors like Vishal Bhardwaj taught you as a filmmaker?
Well there’s something new you learn from every individual if you want to. Vishal sir has produced the first film I worked on and directed the songs in it. He also co-wrote the film. So there’s a new perspective you observe and lessons in hard work and perseverance you gain from someone who has been there and proved himself time and again.
8. What next?
If I don’t do a Post Graduate course in Film Direction or Screenwriting, then probably I’ll be working on a few more films in order to observe and learn as much as I can before I make my own.
VIEW THE ENTIRE DOCUMENTARY “GOONJ” – Link Below
Filed under: Film Musings | Tags: Argo, Farrukh Dhondy, film appreciation, film education, film review, film workshop, Lincoln, oorvazi, oorvazi irani, Oscar, oscar film review, Oscar nominee, Zero Dark Thirty
Entertainment Vs Truth
A musing by Oorvazi Irani
The recent Oscar nominees and winner have got me thinking again. Do films reflect reality or a perception of reality, or is reality and the truth anywhere in the picture. A film always has an agenda and belongs to someone. So when we view a film we need to think deeper than the plot and be aware of an undercurrent ideology that the film promotes. Sometimes intentional, sometimes in the name of formula and entertainment truth is put for sale.
I would like to quote Farrukh Dhondy(from his column Cabbages and Kings that appeared in Asian Age on March 2nd 2013) in regards the film “Lincoln” and the interesting views he puts forth
“Slavery in America was not abolished by Lincoln and his civil war but by the need of the nascent capitalist industries in the North for free labour from the South.
…….The question is, quite simply, “Did Abraham Lincoln intentionally and heroically liberate the slaves?”
A child’s first view of history is mythological. Figures loom largest. Noah saved all living creatures from the flood; William conquered Britain; Ashoka united India; Aurangzeb stubbornly brought about the downfall of the Mughal empire; Lincoln freed the slaves… People dominate. They are the movers, the shakers of the earth and it makes sense.
Then comes adolescence and the awareness that history is not the story of kings but the story of the people. One embraces that doctrine with all the enthusiasm of the new republican and then follows the theory… ” ( here is the link to the full article http://www.asianage.com/columnists/revisiting-history-834)
The film “Argo” at the surface does not seem a Hollywood formula film and is based on true facts but why does the film have a climax that seems just too filmy to digest, a car chasing a plane and the heroes get away safe and sound. What is the level of creative liberties in relation to depicting facts that do not dilute the heart of the matter is an interesting exploration. As facts were omitted , different circumstances created for a more entertaining film but as a certain critic rightly questions is that really necessary to create drama, a good storyteller could extract the drama out of real life but I say would that sell is the big question, but why not, do we want it to sell and to whom. When presenting a historical fact seeing it from the American viewpoint only could be dangerously pushing Iranian stereotypes and highlighting an event itself projects the makers in a certain light. Its not about how good or bad the Iranians are but whats most important is about how great the Americans are.
“Argo” the Oscar winning film this year again highlights a supposed success story of America and the whole world starts talking about it. The film is cinematically quite good like all the films mentioned above and has a style of realism in its cinematic appeal (most of the time) but yet again the main focus of the film remains projecting the American CIA agent as the star. A popular film needs a active single strong protagonist and this character dynamics is never lost in the tale of all our Oscar films mentioned above. It just happens to be that two of those protagonists are CIA agents, isn’t it.
Reality is all perception and truth is but relative, in that web I search for my vision of discovery.
Filed under: Film Musings | Tags: death of a shadow, film education, film review, film workshop, hrithik roshan, oorvazi irani, Oscar, Oscar short film, Oscar short film nomination, short film, Tom Van Avermaet
“DEATH OF A SHADOW” A Film by Tom Van Avermaet
Oscar Nominated Short Film – 2013
A Review by Oorvazi Irani
Soldier Nathan died during World War I. A strange collector imprisoned his shadow and gave him a new chance: a second life against 10,000 captured shadows…
How is this for a beginning to a story idea. Not real but fascinating. And that’s the power of a good story, you believe in it not because of it being realistic but because of its hidden truth, power and beauty. The director Tom Van Avermaet is influenced by ‘surrealists’ of the American cinema (Darren Aronofsky, Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton, Stanley Kubrick…) and inspired by the mythology and mystery of fantasy tales and comic books. This is very apparent in his style and choice of subject but what is interesting is that he does not deal with the film poetically or mysteriously as a treatment but makes this magic realism rooted in the apparent world of realism. Many critics have dubbed his film as steam-punk which the director defends “Steam-punk is like a general term for science fiction in the Victorian Age, with machines” but says his work is not centered around that but does use certain elements from that genre.
Coming back to the story why does Nathan want to go back to the world of the living, why does he want a second chance? Here kicks in the director as auteur again “there are elements I come back to, like the element of someone looking for an unreachable love. Both shorts have those elements.” (“Dreamtime” 2006 was his first short film and the current film was under production for 5 years now). So at a simple level the film is a love story where our hero wants to come back to life or rather buys his way to a second chance to live to meet a woman he fell in love with just before dying. But of course there is a twist in this love story, after he buys his second life he is faced with the harsh reality that she does not love him but someone else. The film now gaining dramatic momentum leads Nathan to take revenge and destroy his object of jealousy, however ultimately ending in a self realization and a sacrifice for love.
The love story is not new but what makes the mark is that the film is in a new wrapping with surrealistic layers and this added with Matthias Schoenaerts (“Rust and Bone”) intense performance as Nathan Rijckx, the eye for detail with great production value and visual beauty along with a effective soundtrack, help take the film beyond a simple love story to the realm of a pondering on life and existence itself.
An imagery that lingers on is the gallery collection of the ‘shadows of death’. But for my liking I did expect more of the poetry of the mysterious world of shadows, but that’s another story and maybe another film.
“Death of Shadow” was Screened exclusively in Mumbai by the Shamiana Short Film Club on 24th February 2013 with a message from the film-maker.
You can watch Oscar Nominated Short Films here http://theoscarshorts.shorts.tv/thefilms.php
This Film Review First Published on the website Mad About Moviez http://www.madaboutmoviez.com
Filed under: Film Musings | Tags: acting, acting technique, acting technique in india, acting workshop, auteur, film, film acting, film auteur, film workshop, Michael Chekhov, Michael Chekhov Acting Technique, michael chekhov acting technique in india, oorvazi irani
AUTEUR & ACTING
The Michael Chekhov Acting Technique
Presented by Oorvazi Irani
If cinema is the director’s medium
And the director is an artist, an Auteur
An Auteur director works in collaboration with the writer which is the first stage of creation
But collaboration with an actor with an acting technique can lead to an exciting final stage of creation waiting to be explored
The question I propose to ask today is – Can an auteur director involve with the actor with the technique of acting itself. Rather than orienting himself to the actor’s style of acting can he introduce and work with the actor together as a collaborative teamwork. Can they both work in a new collaboration where the character comes to life and is truly born from the marriage of the writer , auteur director and actor.
The next question will be how does the auteur director go about this process.
The first step would be for the auteur director to understand the challenges of the actor as an artist and put himself through the process. Not to become an actor but to experience firsthand the possibilities.
Also what this does for the auteur director is that it helps him to live the part of the character and become one with his creation, he might not be the most skilled individual to bring the character to life but he can share the joy of creation with the actor and discover his characters from a deeper source adding nuances that have escaped the writer. Ofcourse the writer could also be included in the process, as acting is the final phase of the written script and it actualizes the potential of the story and screenplay.
The challenges an actor faces are the demands to transform himself into other characters and to bring them to life by emoting truthfully. Every actor has his own way of responding to these demands which he either evolves with experience or by following a particular acting technique.
The most popular means used to act is – to use one’s personal memories and personality to act. As an artist I find that limiting the ‘art of acting’. I believe any form of art should put the individual in a position to evolve and not regress and high points in artistic creation are experienced by the artist and audience when the artist has transcended the ego.
The Michael Chekhov acting technique unlike some other acting techniques is not regressive but fun and creative and any individual who wants to creatively ‘play’ can start the exploration. Michael Chekhov himself was a great actor, director born in Russia in 1891. He devoted his whole life to developing and perfecting a revolutionary acting technique that does not use personal memories and one’s limited personality to act but at the core of the technique is the use of the actor’s ‘Imagination’ and the actor’s ‘Body’ . The actor is treated as a creative artist and the possibilities of creation are infinite with specific tools like the ‘Imaginary Body’ – ‘Imaginary Centre’ – ‘Psychological Gesture’ – ‘Sensations’ with which the whole world opens up to the actor and the world inside him strives to reach out surrendering to the joy of creation.
An Auteur can rediscover himself and his film in artistic collaboration with the actor – are there any takers in India for this exciting journey to join the list of internationally respected actors and directors who are inspired by and follow the acting technique like Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson, Ingrid Bergman, Anthony Hopkins, Johnny Depp, Marilyn Monroe, Joanna Merlin, Anthony Quinn, and many more.
For more information on the technique do visit my website, link below
Article first published on the movie website http://www.madaboutmoviez.com
Filed under: Project Creativity | Tags: Anurag Basu, art, artist, Barfi, Bollywood, creativity, film education, film workshop, foreign language film, indian cinema, Indian film Oscar nominee, inspiration, oorvazi, oorvazi irani, originality, Oscar, plagiarism
Plagiarism , Inspiration and Beyond
By Oorvazi Irani
None of us artists are pure or not guilty of this crime in small ways and big but we need to strive to be original.
Creativity and originality are two of the biggest challenges for an artist. And consciously or subconsciously we are all copying from the past from film, literature, paintings etc. Therefore one way to help escape this is being inspired by life – the need to look within and into our own lives. Be inspired by observing life first hand rather than sit back on a chair and soak in the observations of others.
But having said that if a great artist has moved us there is no harm paying homage to the work but we need to be able to take it to another level or make it our own. And if the tribute is very strong the source needs to be acknowledged.
Sometimes our society pushes us to imitate, to plagiarize, eg a local fashion magazine has an international standard it wants to meet and be assured of success, thus is not interested in originality, but imitating a successful photographer, his image that can guarantee success. The new local fashion photographer is told to imitate that international standard image and not urged to be original. The film industry wants a success formula and its industry sometimes pushes the filmmaker to play safe and imitate successful moments rather than create them, but the artist and his conscience will not be spared. The current film “Barfi” (directed by Anurag Basu and produced by UTV) is being sent to the Oscars as an Indian nomination is a case in point.
Each artist needs to try and find means by which he accesses his imagination and creativity to be original. Surrealism as one art movement started in the 1920’s, besides being a revolt also encouraged the artist to a more primal source of inspiration – our subconscious, and a realm beyond logic and rationality. This technique is still used by creative artists today to help them find a voice of their own.
How to be truly original – the search continues for each artist and infact each human being. To make an invention, a breakthrough, atleast strive for excellence and we will be closer to living a more authentic life and create a more authentic world. Those are moments of inspiration which we need to strive for rather than take the easy route.
Filed under: Film Musings | Tags: film education, film workshop, Ingmar Bergman, oorvazi irani, Persona, scene analysis, world cinema
PERSONA (1966)- A film by Ingmar Bergman
The scene begins with a closeup of hands concealing something from the audience by Elisabet Vogler played by Liv Ullman (one of the key protagonists in the film who was an actress and has been silent for three months after a particular performance, who is now being looked after by Nurse Alma at a holiday home by the sea) and Nurse Alma played by Bibi Anderson reveals the young boy’s photograph that was being concealed after which follows a long dialogue which in fact is like a monologue by Nurse Alma to Elisabet her patient(as Elizabeth does not speak) about the story behind the photograph. We have the scene repeated twice with the same dialogue. Only in one version we see Elizabeth for almost the full duration and in the other version we see Alma for almost the entire duration.
“The idea for Persona, ..came from a picture. One day I suddenly saw in front of me two women sitting next to each other and comparing hands with one another. I thought to myself that one of them is mute and the other one speaks. This little thought returned time and again and I wondered: why did it return, why did it repeat itself? It was as if it returned so that I would start to work on it.” - Ingmar Bergman
I instinctively selected this scene as being representative of the film and then on further research realized that even the hands with which the scene begins are so powerful and infact a major source for the inspiration for the film itself. Ofcourse every scene in this film is representative of the film like every drop of the ocean has the essence of the ocean in itself but I found a special choreography to this scene and felt like sharing it or rather highlighting it with a detail shot breakdown of the scene(including dialogues).
This is a significant scene and at one level can be representative of the theme of the film itself. The Patient and Nurse relationship is not a simple one. At one level they are two very real different individuals in dramatic conflict and at another level they are two faces of the same person and expose the different masks we wear.
I would like to draw your attention to every acting beat in the scene which is highlighted by a gesture, movement by the actress and seems like a dance of emotions. The first version of the scene has us experience the scene seeing the face of Elisabet Vogler, the patient who is mute and is being spoken about by Nurse Alma. The scene starts with a closeup of hands, to then include a beautiful closeup of two faces followed by the separation of one face from the frame leaving a single face that continues the journey forward for the viewer. Nurse Alma speaks about Elizabeth and accuses her of being cold and indifferent and Elizabeth has no dialogues for defense or expressiveness (which for many actors is like a crutch, you take away dialogues and they are lost) but simple movements of the head – right, left, down and straight, towards the camera combined with the depth of truth in the facial expressions that make the scene poetic. The next version of the same scene is played out keeping Elizabeth in profile and we see Nurse Alma’s face speaking the dialogues. As in the earlier version the camera slightly magnifies the closeup of the character but this is the dramatic point of this version where it ends at a jumbo closeup of Alma but then transforms into not one but two personas – one side of the face is Alma and the other side of the face is Elisabet. At this point a relatively real story enters into another realm of exploration.
The opening value of the scene is revealing something that is concealed (a young boy’s photograph followed by the story) -
The scene emotionally peaks with Nurse Alma accusing Elizabeth of being indifferent to her loving child who she hates and then the scene climaxes with a glimpse of the two faces/identities merging and returns to a closeup of Alma with a cry of help and I quote
No I am not like you. I don’t feel like you. I’m sister Alma, I am just here to help you. I am not Elisabet Vogler, you are Elizabeth Vogler. I would like to have… I love..
And the closing value or the scene ends with a final merger and superimposition of both the faces/identities with the words ‘I haven’t …’ which indicates a merger of these two identities. Or makes us question that is this a real story are these two separate individuals or is this an internal drama of the mind and soul.
So the film starts with these two very different individuals and ends with a complete merger/fusion of the two. It begins at the plane of reality and ends with being in a suspended plane of existence between the real and unreal.
“Persona” is the Latin name for facemasks worn by actors in antiquity. Its an amusing title, good name, an apt name. The film will be about people’s masks and attitudes.” – Ingmar Bergman
Bergman in this film like all films exposes bare the turmoil of the human mind and soul. He does not accept love, god as normal individuals would but looks at the darker side of human nature where he explores themes of hypocrisy – and revealing the muck inside the formality of relationships and normal existence. Like a stone thrown into the water and its serene pretentious stillness and purity is opened to the mud and muck hidden at its core which show up and break the serenity at its surface.
The scene is structured in close-ups and the ‘face’ plays a very powerful role in the scene like many other films of Bergman. To quote Bergman himself “What the eyes can yield is for me the essential of all filmed art”. So with the landscape of the face, dramatic one key lighting on the canvas of black and white this master artist sets into motion an explosion of emotions on the screen, gripping you tight, not letting you escape the ugly revelations of a tormented human mind and soul.
I want to end this analysis by leading you into the next scene which after a few shots takes the film at certain points to pure abstraction like a true artist – two faces in a white void whispering to each other and that scene ends with Elisabet drawing blood from Nurse Alma to which Alma violently protests. There is a repulsiveness that emerges slowly but overshadowed by the beauty of cinematic treatment and depth. There are many more beautiful cinematic moments in the film including ofcourse the haunting mirror/ dream image of the two women in close contact and ofcourse the soundtrack helps to make you experience the internal and external atmosphere more truthfully.
First published on the website http://www.madaboutmoviez.com
Filed under: FILM REVIEW show - Talking Cinema | Tags: Bollywood, Boman Irani, Farha Khan, film education, film review, film workshop, hindi film review, hindi films, indian cinema, oorvazi irani, Shirin Farhad ki toh nikal padi
OORVAZI TALKING CINEMA – Film Review Show
“Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi”
MAM brings to you an exclusive video review for the first time of the movie Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padiby Oorvazi Irani and her thoughts on the same.
Filed under: Film and Acting Schools | Tags: Altamash Jaleel, Anmol Sachar, film workshop, ibdp film, International Baccalaureate, Kajri Babbar, oorvazi irani, Shrey Sheth, svkm, svkm ib school
My Journey teaching film at the SVKM IB School (Batch 2010 – 2012)
This is probably the only IB school in Mumbai that offers film as a subject
Introduction – What is IB
Before I talk about the subject of film and my journey I would like to share with you what is IB. The International Baccalaureate® (IB) was founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1968 as a non-profit educational foundation. The IB works with 3,458 schools in 143 countries to offer the three IB programmes to approximately 1,043,000 students. And you would ask, how does this compare with the current system ? Of course, the current systems empower the child with sound knowledge, understanding and skills in all required fields, but their rote system of assessments pay larger emphasis on left brain usage. On the other hand, International curricula aim at developing and sharpening higher order thinking skills from an early age by involving all the functional areas of the brain. IB encourages the student to be a global citizen and understand and respect various cultures from all over the world. Being creative and original is greatly encouraged and to sum it up in the words of the president of SVKM( Shri Vile Parle Kelavani Mandal) Amrish Patel – “Where “education” goes beyond the mere cramming of pre-discovered facts and theorems and enters a realm where young minds, are designed to become inquirers, thinkers, achievers, communicators and above all Global Citizens with a conscious rooted deep in the Indian value system.
This kind of learning is exactly what I identified with and given an opportunity to teach the subject I immersed myself into it. For me as an artist and practicing filmmaker this was an exciting journey to be able to guide and mentor another young artist and keen student of cinema.
IBDP (International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme) Film:
So I started my journey with a young group of 4 students in the age group of 16 – 19 years who had chosen film as one of their subjects. I had a challenging task before me, but looking back it feels very satisfying to see them all succeed and enjoy the subject, Above all I am proud of their final student film “ “Takbir” which is sensitive and mature and is the pride of our school. The film was also projected by the school on various formal and informal platforms as a showcase which reflects all the values of IB and it felt really nice that the two years came to such a lovely conclusion. But making of a short film is just one of the projects that the students undertake and an important part of the project is the Written Commentary which includes the observations, experiences and reflections of the process of making the film itself which I think is very nice (but often neglected by students and has to be repeatedly drummed into their heads). Its as simple as maintaining a diary of records right from the day you started brainstorming about the idea to the day your film was complete but ofcourse in a format that is specified in which it gets submitted has to be adhered too,.
Film Syllabus Outline:
Given below are the three projects that the students undertake, however the making of the film along with the Written Commentary is 50% of the marks and is internally marked (moderated after that by IB) and the other projects are externally marked and moderated. The subject of film is offered as SL (Standard Level) and HL (Higher Level) (The differentials between SL and HL are both quantitative and qualitative. All my students took Film HL.
So as a teacher I had to guide them through all the projects, yet not spoon feed them. Discover the artists in them and also make them thorough with the history of cinema and understand the art and craft of filmmaking. Each class could not be theory but each class could not be just fun either and slowly we both – student and teacher found a meeting ground. But what was most important as a journey as a teacher was to be able to gain the trust of each student and the process was a learning curve for me too. Also each project helps them understand and execute the other projects, there is a learning that beautiful blends into each other.
Below is a brief discussion on each project:
The detailed study of film sequences
This project encourages the student to find the entire essence of the ocean in one drop, exploring the macrocosm in the microcosm. To be more specific a 5 minute extract is explored to discover the entire gamut of film theory and history and the language of cinema ofcourse in relation to the film and its specifications. I will not go into the details of the project but it was a nice way to engage the students directly with cinema and make them realize the importance of each scene in a film and that each part contains the essence of the whole. The presentation of this project was a audio recording where the student discusses the scene with a few prescribed areas but the student is not allowed to read the notes and thus it’ encourages an understanding and reflection rather than a mere cut paste attitude which many projects give way too like in school. Infact how many projects in school have been done by parents, neighbours, sibblings and not the student themselves, I feel this approach helps to engage with the topic and make the student personally participate.
Film theory and history
The study of films and film-making traditions from more than one country.
More than any other project it is here that students are encouraged to explore and understand various cultures from different parts of the world. Sensitizing them to different ways of experience and living. Here the format of presentation is an audio visual script with film clips from different cultures but under a topic that allows this exploration in film history/theory and cinematic language. The challenge in IB is always to be able to discover the area of interest of the student and then develop his exploration in a related field of cinematics. As doing a project should not be a mere exercise but something that excites the student to want to know more about. So if one of my students loved the western genre he probed deeper into it, keeping the language of cinema as a strong base to the study, another student was a sports enthusiast and no wonder the sports genre excited him, while yet another student loved literature and Shakespeare and thus that came to be part of her project topic, last but not the least was a student who loved the horror genre so I encouraged him to understand it deeper and was a beautiful medium to look at horror from the cultural viewpoint of different countries.
Creative Process (Film production)
The development of creative, analytical and production skills within film-making
This project is the most challenging and at the same time satisfying. It is the project that is the one main component that showcases to the outside world the 2 years gone past and if its good, its like a trophy in itself for the students and the teacher.
The film project can be made individually or in a group. They were a group of 4 students and thus since one wanted to be a director the others chose the relevant key areas of interest – script, sound, editing and the process began.
But the creative process could begin only when they knew their own voices. Very early in the course I started my small efforts in trying to discover the personal and creative world of the students as I had to discover with them their unique individual creative voice. It was during one simple autobiographical exercise session in class in which I discovered a very important aspect of the director student. I just knew without pushing it that this was a breakthrough that will come to use. When we latter had the brainstorming sessions I reminded him of this special incident and he acknowledged it but it was not really completely accepted. It was my duty to bring it to light and then see If the idea grows in him. The idea took birth and then died a silent death and then came back to life again now to be made into a reality. What is special about the student film “Takbir” is that’s it’s a film by an auteur. To confess, I was a bit nervous if all will go well and I did not believe it would turn out as good as it did, as I felt there could be more time dedicated by the students to the film preparation, but then it being another subject in school I could not be very hard on them. And I was always emotionally blackmailed for more time to complete an exercise due to heavy homework and deadlines from other subjects. But they proved to be more competent than I imagined and did a great job of working together inspite of the small quarrels off and on, in which I sometimes had to intervene. Interestingly film as a subject in IB, knows the nature of the artform being a collaborative process and therefore stresses that a healthy working relationship is very important and how as a team they achieve their film project and go through the entire process from making an idea into a reality.
I was clear that the choice of actors would be very important to make their film look and feel professional and saw to it that they got actors who with their presence and basic knowledge of theatre or cinema bring a touch of class and not make it look like an amateur student film. I helped with some key characters and I give them credit to be able to source the others themselves who were very effective too.
As usual the deadlines were close and they were still editing their film due to unavoidable circumstances and it was like a nail biting climax to a journey that was fun, challenging, and rewarding.
EE (Extended Essay)
One of the integral aspects and requirement of an IB syllabus is EE (Extended Essay) which is like a mini thesis according to me, as the stress is on originality and in-depth research. A student can select to take the subject of film for his EE and this was done by one of my students who was very sincere and dedicated and took up the study of an Auteur director. This project he says helped him immensely as a director too and for the first time he really understood the nuances of an auteur and what it meant as the essay is focused on specific films which are analyzed apart of the topic selected. It was though initially to come upon an original focus to his topic but we soon reached there and then all fell into place.
The assessment of all the projects are based on specific criteria which values research, originality, discipline, and a global outlook and understanding.
The Graduation Day:
That was the moment to take pride in – all our hardwork that we had done for the past 2 years was now coming to a conclusion. The struggle and ecstasy that we faced with each film class would now be no more but I promised to be in touch with them lifelong through my blog and thus this article is special and dedicated to each moment that we spent together.
Its said that the greatest way to learn is to teach and I too learnt a great deal ! And finally I graduated.
Infact its interesting that in my personal life I was not in a position to attend the graduation ceremony at the university and this indeed in literal terms therefore completes my education but in a very different context.
And the post is not complete without feedback from my loving students
Altamash, could not find words to express the film course and is waiting for inspiration, but in the meanwhile it suffices to share an experience from our Graduation Day. Altamash had been given the privilege to share his experience of IB and I was invited part of the faculty to witness the graduation ceremony. To my pleasant surprise Altamash spoke about the subject of film and me as a teacher with such warmth and respect that I was touched. In his speech he paused, located me with his gaze in the audience and publicly thanked me for making him a director. This pause and special attention was a mark of respect and love that I will always cherish as a special moment. And as I say that respect cannot be demanded, you need to earn it. And that made me feel rich !
Anmol has always been the first to submit all his assignments and projects and so with his feedback !
IB FILM – A JOURNEY TO REMEMBER!
When IB began, one of the worst feelings was experienced on Wednesday mornings. Why? Because I had to sit through a long, boring class of film which, made no sense to me. In my teacher, Miss Oorvazi’s eyes I probably was one of the worst student she could have got – always yawning, staring at the ceiling or sleeping with open eyes.
But a few weeks into the course and I began to get gravitated toward the subject. Gradually, the yawns turned into smiles, the staring into attentive nods and the sleep into intriguing questions. Soon I started to make sense of horrifying terms like ‘expressionism,’ ‘dollying,’ ‘auteur’ and so on, thanks to our teacher who was more of a friend who adapted a very amiable style of teaching.
As time went by, hours, days, months and a whole two years, I realized that I had transformed from just another boy who liked to shoot videos to a boy who has made a film which is already receiving a great response from the viewers. This journey has been a truly memorable and fruitful one and has certainly left an indelible mark on my mind.
I worked with a great group. Altamash tu toh apna Aamir khan nikla…kya perfectionist hai…couldn’t have had a better director than you. Kajri khuda zaalimo ka sath de na de mera toh saath deta hai ki tujh jaisi mahaan script writer ko humaare film ke liye assign kiya…u were too gud! Shrey buddy really imprssive work with the sound yaar…like the music really helps the viewer teleport into the world of ‘Takbir.’
Oorvazi Ma’am we certainly couldn’t have found a teacher matching your stature and class. The way you instilled within me the will to learn this subject, I doubt anyone could ever do. Thank you ma’am for your unparalleled guidance and support throughout this demanding course.
All in all it was a fabulous experience. Three words… WE KILLED IT!!! ;]
ANMOL THANKYOU DEAR FOR TRUSTING ME AND BEING THE GREAT STUDENT YOU TURNED OUT TO BE ! And thanks for submitting the feedback in time to upload as usual you are well in time for the deadline.
Her feedback was a beautiful sms and inspite of promising a further writeup, ( she is also finding the inspiration to do the same) I am sharing the sms.
“ You were more like a friend than a teacher and your classes were so warm, filled with love that you never made us really realize that you are a teacher and we need to be discreet. Mwah !
Actually I would chose you to be my bridesmaid ”
To gain the trust of a student to become a friend is a great achievement to value and you belong to their inner circle, what more can you want.
Last but not the least (and still waiting for inspiration like the others to write his experiences). Infact he was a student who was bright but was lagging behind on the projects and submissions but he surprised us all towards the end of the course when he decided to take things in control and gave it that final push. On the IB orientation for the new batch where parents were invited for a special event in school Shrey spoke about the subject of film and I would like to share that here. He did not say much but that one line was very special as I feel this was something that would be valuable to him the rest of his life and went beyond film as a subject and that I was instrumental in being able to make him realize that, it feels precious.
“ Oorvazi Mam always told me to think deeper and when I did I realized how important it was and what power it can unleash”
Filed under: SBI Impresario Films Online | Tags: documentary, film education, film workshop, filmmaking, Ganesa, Ganesh, Ganesh Chaturthi, ganesh documentary, Ganesh festival, Hinduism, indie film, Lord Ganesh, mumbai, Mumbai festival, oorvazi irani, Prof. Upadhyay, sbi impresario, sorab irani
“Ganesa” (1998) – Directed and Produced by Sorab Irani
The Ganesh festival is world famous and synonymous with Mumbai. Yet while millions of us Mumbaikars take part in the festivities probably a few of us understand the iconography, the mythology and the political compulsions that has made this iconic festival come to become what it is.
I want to share with you a well researched half hour film directed and produced by my dad Sorab Irani, and me as the associate director in the year 1998. It is immensely entertaining yet informative and we see that the character of Bombay has not changed really so much in regards its common citizens even if its name is now Mumbai.
Produced by SBI Impresario Pvt Ltd. in the year 1998
Directed and Produced by Sorab Irani
Associate Director Oorvazi Irani
Copyrights and all Rights Reserved SBI Impresario Pvt. Ltd.