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: Ashvin Kumar, documentary, film blog, film education, film review, independent filmmaker, Inshallah Kashmir, oorvazi irani, review
Review of “Inshallah Kashmir: Living in Terror” a documentary by Ashvin Kumar
By Oorvazi Irani
When I think about Kashmir I cannot but help think of this imagery of a child who is being pulled in all directions wanting to be claimed after a bitter divorce, and my heart goes out to this child which is Kashmir and ‘living in terror’. What does this child want is not an easy answer and Ashvin Kumar has tried to delve into the heart of Kashmir to explore this question.
“On 21st August 2011 the Indian state made a historic announcement. The State Human Rights Commission admitted to 2156 unidentified bodies from 38 unmarked graves in Kashmir” this statement made in the beginning of the film by Ashvin Kumar who has written, directed and edited the film is one of the key concerns that the film revolves around, which questions the two decades of Militancy, living terror, and the irony of living in terror under the watch of a secular, democratic republic, India. An integral part of the film is about the atrocities of the law enforcers on the common man and the probe into the militant identity.
The film leads us into its narrative and the land of Kashmir with a point of view shot from the edge of a boat in the Dal lake along with the soundtrack of the Director and how he discovered this film. The shot is powerful and poetic and symbolizes the troubled waters of this beautiful land that we are about to enter. The film is largely interview based and it is the human stories that take the narrative forward including Ex Militants, a Kashmiri Pandit and the other voices of the common man in Kashmir, interspersed with views and comments by Omar Abdullah and government of India officials and experts. “Inshallah Kashmir” is culled from three hundred hours of rare footage shot in the conflict-zone of Kashmir while shooting “Inshallah, football”. This film reveals the scars of two decades of conflict through testimonies of over forty people whose families have been devastated by the conflict. In order to avoid censorship after his earlier films were banned/restrained from circulation Ashvin decided to bypass the Indian censor board and release “Inshallah Kashmir” online and free-of-charge on 26th of January 2012, India’s Republic Day.
The film as a whole develops a dialogue between the visual and the sound and the drama of real life is combined with poetic moments of pause and reflection. One such instance is the beginning of the chapter of ‘The Kashmiri Militant’. The meeting ground for the director’s first interview with a militant is a poetic imagery of dried burning leaves being swept in a football field in a village in Kashmir and the soundtrack draws us into the reflections of the director as he speaks on the militant identity “..the Kashmiri militant is not part of a single homogenized group. Differing motivations and ideologies are at play, at times working against each other…”
The film does try and make a sincere attempt at presenting a picture with varied shades and voices and has distinct chapters like ‘The Kashmiri Militant’ ‘The Kashmiri Pandit, the Hindus of Kashmir’, ‘Missing or Disappeared’, , Kids in Conflict’ etc. Is the film the whole truth? But can one film ever attempt to be? I feel its value lies in the pertinent questions that it raises; it asks you to probe and involves you in the midst of the human turmoil that Kashmir is suffering.
An independent voice not controlled by the establishment is extremely precious and the least we can do as an audience is engage ourselves meaningfully in its narrative and begin our search for truth.
For those who are yet to watch the film and for those who would like to revisit the same here’s the complete film for you all-
My Review first Published on the website http://www.madaboutmoviez.com
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: 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/Acting Family Speak | Tags: Altamash Jaleel, film education, film school, IB Film, Indian film school, oorvazi irani, svkm, svkm ib school
The IB film experience
by Altamash Jaleel
SVKM IBDP Film Class 2010-12
I began IB film with no expectations, the same way I used to before starting anything new. It came as a part of my policy. Well, the experience has only strengthened my belief with the passage of time. That’s because this particular course necessitates exploring, passing through the uncharted, unfamiliar territories. And it has been, without a shred of doubt, the most fantastic learning experience. And it’s all kudos to Ms Oorvazi Irani for instilling the persistence, resilience and tact required to handle the subject of film within the 4 students that occupied a quiet classroom.
Those three hours of continuous discussion were gruelling, not to mention the amount of books and documents based on film research we had to handle! But the important thing was that every lesson bore fruit and that’s the lesson we will always have as a keepsake.
The course and assignments:
I think the course is very well systemized to equip students with foundation skills in filmic analysis and appreciation. For those who learn to appreciate films and respect the various layers in meaning of a film realize that watching a film is not just a visual, rather, a visceral experience.
After completing the various assignments like the Oral Analysis and Independent Study, I found myself examining films in a very different light. It’s amazing how you find yourself talking for fifteen minutes about any film scene that barely lasted for 5 minutes, as we were expected to perform for the oral analysis. I was fortunate to analyse the famed café sequence from Casablanca, as the radiant Ingrid Bergman marks her entry, half an hour into the film. On the other hand is the independent study which challenges your filmic knowledge about a subject of your interest and then demands you to write a creative script for a documentary based on that knowledge. I extensively explored the genre of Westerns (cowboy flicks) and wrote a creative documentary for that.
The sheer amount of learning in this course is fascinating and one ends up coupling all these faculties in the most important and exciting assignment of all – the 7 minute film. Speaking for our class, as first-time filmmakers, we were faced with a terribly daunting task. But through persistence and reflecting upon our shortcomings did we manage to craft a film which would mark a new cornerstone for the films that our school had produced.
The IBDP Film Class 2010-12, under the informal banner of ‘Half-ticket Productions’ produced a film with a lot of heart and were fortunate to have received the compliments of our teacher, Miss Oorvazi. What an unforgettable experience! And it transformed me not only as a lover of the cinema but more deeply struck a chord within me as an individual trying to make sense of the complex world.
I took Film as a mere interest, but it slowly translated into a passion. And that’s the credit that IB Film and the teacher and everyone else involved deserve, in supplementing this course for the students. I think I can sum up my love for filmmaking by a quote by the venerable Winston Churchill – ‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts’.
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