Film Education

Film Appreciation Course
April 29, 2010, 6:07 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

My next Film Appreciation batch starts 22nd May 2010 onwards for three weekends. Time 10 am – 8 pm (Saturdays and Sundays) 22nd May, 23rd May, 29th May, 30th May, June 5th, June 6th

Interested individuals kindly register well in advance.

Film Appreciation Course:

Film – the artform of the 21st century


The workshop with the aid of critically acclaimed Indian and International films will strive to discover film as the art form of the 21st century and will include understanding the following:

* The language of cinema

* History of cinema

* The film making process

* Acting Appreciation

* Film Reviewing

 The workshop is envisaged to make the individual experience the world of film across all cultures and beyond all boundaries. The experience will then be probed to understand the language of film through the very film making process of cinematography, sound, editing etc with the works of critically acclaimed filmmakers. The workshop will also address ‘Acting‘ which is often neglected as an important component of the film. The workshop will be an audio visual presentation and will also include film screenings.

Film Reviewing is not limited to a journalist or film critic but is a great way of learning for a film student

Eligibility : The Workshop is open to all individuals from all walks of life and the only

qualification is ‘the passion for cinema’.

Date : 3 weekend Batch

Fees: Rs 5,000/-

Timing: 10 am – 8 pm

Venue: Kishore Namit Kapoor Acting Institute

Plot no. 98, Unit no D1, D2, Behind Jankidevi Public School, Mahada, Andheri West, Mumbai – 400 053.

Contact: 9821082944



Confessions of a First Time Filmmaker – Sowrik Datta
Amazon link:

Trailer Link:

Sowrik DattaFilmmaker

(FILM APPRECIATION Course January 2009 batch)

The Inspiration for the Plot of the film

I spent days thinking of a plot based on the idea of the conflict – ‘Man vs Self’. Finally one night while watching Godard’s film ‘Breathless’, a thought came to my mind – What might have happened to Patricia four years after Michel died? It hit me like a bolt; I found the plot for my film. I couldn’t sleep that night

The Funders:

With a savings of around Rs. 40,000, I wanted to make the film but I soon realised that it was not possible so I asked my family and all my close friends to help me in whatever way they could. The response was beyond my expectations. Without questioning my filmmaking abilities even once, they all contributed greatly in financing my film. My family contributed Rs. 60,000 and six friends promised to give a total of Rs. 80,000 for my project. That brought up the budget of the film to Rs. 1.8 Lac, which was a handsome budget for a film to be shot on Video format. I was elated and at the same time felt that their hard-earned money is now my responsibility.

Satyajit Ray was a big inspiration for me and my team – he similarly started making his first film “Pather Panchali” with his own savings and it took three long years to complete at least we were more fortunate.

Equipment, Lights and Creative Solutions:

After consultation with my cinematographer, we decided to go ahead with the SONY Z7P- an HDV cam with hiring charges of Rs. 3500 per day, keeping in mind the budget and the intended feel of the film. However, I was shell shocked to see a budget of Rs. 9000 per day only for lights but we then my cinematographer found creative solutions and we ended up hiring only two lights costing Rs 1500 per day.

Acting Auditions:

The auditions were conducted in the parking lot behind Prithvi Theatre as they don’t allow cameras inside their compound. Of course I had no provision in my budget to pay actors but they believed in the script and supported me with their talent. The lead character demanded unorthodox looks, matured performance, perfect diction. When Aradhna came for the auditions Rohit and me felt the character come to life and my choice was made.

The Shoot – Behind schedule:

The shooting schedule was for four days- 3 days for indoor scenes and 1 day for the outdoor shoot.  The team of 19 people started on fourteenth of September towards Lonavala, where the farmhouse was located. Two of the cars in which actors and the production team were travelling and also the truck carrying the lights and the generator reached the destination on time. But the third car in which the camera was supposed to come, broke down twice on the road. Things started getting delayed.

Finally, the camera reached the location. By the time the camera finally started rolling, we were 7 hours behind schedule. Out of our initial plan to complete 7 scenes on the first day, we could manage to complete only 4 small scenes. It was clear that that even an addition of one more day in the schedule would affect my post production budget. We had to complete the shoot in the next two days.

After every one went to sleep, I was standing in the area where the first scene for the next day was to be shot. I put aside my previous shooting script and took out a fresh copy to rewrite shot breakdowns. I caught a few winks early in the morning. Me, my cinematographer and my production manager hardly took a break so that the camera keeps rolling for the full 12hours shift. We completed shooting the remaining 18 scenes in the next two days. We were back on schedule.


The film dealt mostly with a character’s silence from deep guilt, sudden violent outburst and finally a realisation. To bring out inner conflict, the editing pattern had to be slow and sensitive. Moreover, for smooth transition between scenes, ‘L-Cut’ was used, which sub-consciously helped viewers to drift with the flow of the story.

Music and Dubbing:

The film can be roughly divided into two main stages- before realisation and after realisation. Before realisation, the whole feel of the film is very gloomy & pensive and these two emotions were beautifully underlined by symphony on sombre notes. After the realisation stage, the music makes transitions from semi bright notes played on piano to Jazz and finally ending with Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’.

The film was dubbed. It took 20 hours of dubbing to complete the film.

DVD Published:

Finally, on the first week of November, the first batch of DVDs of my short feature ‘The Atonement’ saw the light of the day. I felt like being on the top of the world! The film finally got completed. The expenses exceeded the budget, I was almost bankrupt but still happy.

What does it take to make an independent film?

Passion followed by destiny or Destiny followed by Passion- Debatable issue but I would like to vouch for both.

I have reasons.

The Team:

I am grateful. I am indebted to all the people who have helped me-monetarily, technically, morally, to finish my film. I will forever remain indebted to them.

Dhruv – Production Manager/ Technical Director/ Editor/Post Production Head

Rohit – Casting Director/Production in charge.

Gautami – Cinematographer.

Behind the Scenes: Part 2
By Sorab Irani – Chairman/Managing Director, SBI Impresario Pvt. Ltd.
Part 1:

While every one was waiting for the selection proceeding to begin there was a lot of noise mainly from the junior artists, talking among themselves, smoking, many chewing pan and speaking in a rather comic manner trying to hold on to, not spitting, yet not wanting to swallow the potent tobacco mix. A sense of expectancy was in the air while on the raised stage the ADs(assistant directors) were in conversation with the president of the association about their requirements.Very suddenly, like a judge calling the court to session the president from his high seat barked loudly for silence. There was silence for awhile which then remained as an underlying murmur. All eyes were on the president.

The events that then occurred was the womb from which the idea for the film was born.

The president announced in his booming voice ” film-city – 15 decent look – 9 am reporting – dress kurta pajama – shave bana kar ke ana please” – then the whole scene exploded, there was pandemonium – every one of the assembled extras were on there feet, raising their hand and voice to catch the attention of the AD in the jetting out balcony- the din was deafening, they were pushing and shoving and screaming at the top of their voice while surging inchingly forward . – “Sir muje lo” – “Muje ek mahine se kam nahi mila” – “Sir muje….. Muje kam ki shakt jarurat hai…….”

The AD then pointed out to the men in the crowd and made his selection. I was left wondering how the people could be identified in this ruckus – but the president seemed to able to note down the names of the people that were selected after calling them out loud but it was impossible to hear over the prevailing din. After he finished writing out the call sheet, he leaned back in his chair gathering his strength, it seemed and roared “SILENCE” a momentary hush fell over the assembled people as all were eager to know if they got work – many hoped against hope – I scanned their faces and saw desperate anticipation.

The president started reading out the names “Masood , Pujari, Harilal……” and so on and so forth. Then the listed paper was thrown down to an extra’s coordinator below who did an excellent well practiced job of getting hold of the paper as it floated down to him. Immediately the extras started surrounding him to firm up things. Many voices were heard complaining “me to roj khali rheta hu” some even cursed their bad luck and the whole proceeding.

The coordinator an official of sorts of the association would be responsible for the extras to turn up and be present at the set and to see that they do as directed and of course most importantly collect their daily meager wages and distribute it to them at the end of the day.

This whole selection process took about an hour and a half, I had mixed feeling and I stepped out of the shed to reflect and to get my head around what I had just witnessed.

My first thought was that this was like a kind of cattle auction. I being a horse lover had seen horses being auctioned at the RWITC but the conditions were fabulous compared to this, even in Pushkar and other places in India where animals were paraded and sold was much better then what I witnessed. For God sake I told myself these are human beings not animals – what a ridiculous predicament these extras are caught up in – no dignity – no respect – working in a glamour industry that sells dreams, surely this was the underbelly of Bollywood.

So right outside the infamous tin shed the idea for the film was born – with the background sounds of the next selection round of the extras- that this was great material for a documentary, not an exposure kind of documentary on the underbelly of Bollywood but a human emotional one examining the whole phenomena of the men and women extras of the Bombay Film industry – their lives, how they came to be extras, what were their aspirations, working conditions, their hopes and woes – to look at this whole subject from their side as well as the way the Film Industry perceived them. I was sure that no where else in the world such a phenomenon existed and so it must be captured on film for posterity.

The story carries on in my next post

Video Student Testimonials:
April 24, 2010, 4:56 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Oorvazi Irani’s Film Appreciation and Acting Appreciation sessions held for Kishore Namit Kapoor Acting Institute acting batch, January 2010

The Future of Cinema

Cinema evolved within modern history. Technology is at the heart of cinema. If there was no camera to capture and a projector to project there would be no cinema. ‘what’  and ‘how’ you capture and ‘why’ and ‘where’ you project/display is crucial to the understanding of the future of cinema.

Capturing cinema


If we look back at the birth of cinema we could say that Cinema started as a scientific curiosity and technological ingenuity. It was not considered a medium of great art but started with being a spectacle which raised curiosity, then gradually entertained, informed, and finally evolved into an artform at one end and an industry at the other. What was being captured ranged from ‘reality’ to ‘fantasy’ and everything in between. So to ask ourselves the question, ‘what’ we will be capturing in the future of cinema will be an interesting point to look at. But will it depend on the ‘how’ , the tools available to capture it. In other words will the ‘how’ effect ‘what’ we capture.


Digital Technology has made it possible today for a filmmaker to truly use cinema as a pen with its affordable costing and availability. The technology itself does not require a very technically skilled individual to get good results. But what has this resulted in? Have we been able to shape the language of cinema beyond the great cinematic movements of the past – Italian Neo Realism and the French New wave (who in turn were also liberated by light weight and cheaper equipment at that point in time).Can we take the baton forward in the race of cinematic history with changing technology ? The relationship of reality and cinema has always been an interesting one. We have come a long way from being naively unobtrusive with the capturing of reality to making the camera invisible. The journey from the Lumiere actualities to the sting operations/spy cameras of today. So what next, how closer to reality technology can take us and are we closer at reaching the truth. On the other end of the spectrum we have a hyper real world with virtual truths. Today CG or computer graphics can add or delete anything that you can image and has blended the real with the unreal with the blurring of lines between the two. So much so that now we are going the other way round, real actors are made into animated forms of existence on screen. How far will this go and where will it lead. In this marriage of ‘fact and ‘fiction’ , ‘reality’ and ‘fantasy’ what will be the outcome and how will it end. Will they have an offspring and where will that take the legacy of cinema.

Projecting/displaying cinema


Why do you want to show cinema – for an artistic end or to make money. Many times its not that one excludes the other but usually there is a priority of one over the other or rather should be so, so each has their individual space to function in. What aspect will hold more value in the times to come could affect the nature of the future of cinema.

Where (Exhibition space)

The old system of Control will continue if not because of ideology then because of money politics. But what is an interesting development that technology has given birth to is a parallel space of display like the internet. An exhibition space which can bypass the industry and directly reach the audience. This puts the artist in direct communication with her/his audience. Of course that has its own challenges but it does offer a tremendous freedom and is empowering. Cinema started with a community viewing, then entered the home and now the personal space of a computer.

Active audience:

Technology has played a key role in creating a more active audience. An audience had absolutely no control in theaters, then came the video player which offered control to see the film and made it a personal possession but now the audience is given total control with digital technology at their finger tips not only to see but also to create and change the film to their own liking. Will technology succeed in creating a more active audience and where do we go from here?

How does the artist and audience communicate with each other is an important aspect of the future of cinema. Films can have in them algorithms etc to involve the audience but what this does is it puts the onus on the audience. The better equipped the audience the richer the experience. Thus this would require the audience to be more equipped and be ready to be a co-creator in the true sense. Modern art and cinematic art movements have attached great value to an active audience and have fought against the passive traditional Hollywood style of filmmaking but how far can we take interactivity and how do we make the experience more enriching for each viewer is where the challenge lies according to me.

Coming back to the basics and the traditional form of cinema itself – the core language of cinema compared to the traditional arts, in its very nature puts the audience in the midst of action and this is its unique quality. If cinema can take us further beyond ourselves into other worlds but within the confines of ourselves then that itself is an exciting experience that would be worth waiting for. Having said that the gaming industry today is about interactivity, so is that the future of cinema? I feel the important question in this interactive space is how do we maintain the balance between the genius of the gifted artist/filmmaker and at the same time actively involve the common viewer as a co-creator, that is the challenge that lies ahead.

Oorvazi Irani

This post is dedicated to the memory of my late friend Dr. Vivek Adarkar

Interview with Roddy Mathews

Roddy Matthews, London

Roddy Matthews has been a professional musician and composer for over thirty years. He has written for film and television, including over 100 episodes of the long running ITV drama, London’s Burning. He has contributed as a player to many successful TV shows – including Absolutely Fabulous, Bottom, Alexei Sayle’s Stuff, French and Saunders, The Lenny Henry Show, Fry and Laurie, World of Happy – and has played on hit recordings for George Michael, Shakin’ Stevens, Sinitta, Basement Jaxx, and Alphabeat. Along the way he has sung for England, remixed Snoop Dogg, argued with Peter Waterman, and played guitar in the Oxford Union hall at the invitation of Benazir Bhutto.

Q1. How would you define music?

At its simplest, music is just organised sound.

Q2. How is music different from the other arts ?

Music is different from all language-based arts because notes and rhythms work on universal human responses. In this way it is like visual arts. But all music has particular cultural influences and meanings, so it is not entirely true to say that music is a kind of ‘universal language’, at least not one that will always be correctly interpreted. Music is more general than literature and most kinds of pictorial art, but really it is nearer to forms of abstract painting than anything else. It works directly on our emotions, by-passing a great deal of the conscious, reflective mind.

Q3. What is the basic knowledge that someone needs to know to be able to understand music and be able to use it in collaboration with a music composer?

If you mean from the point of view of a film-maker or choreographer, then it is best to know very specifically what you wish to convey in your film or dance piece, and to be able to explain this in non-technical words to a composer. Technical knowledge of music is not always helpful, and too much detailed instruction may well restrict the composer’s freedom. Most non-musicians are actually very prejudiced about music – in other words they have their own ‘taste’. It is very difficult not to develop tastes in music, and in collaboration with a composer the first trick is to work with someone whose instinctive tastes are compatible with your own. Find this out early, and the rest will probably follow.

Q4. How does music work?

In terns of physics, we are talking about resonant frequencies and complex interactions of sound waves. In terms of art and emotions, no one really knows. Just respect the fact that it works very well when done with humility, care and skill.

Q5. How is western music different from Indian music?

That is a massively complex question, and one that has fascinated generations. Rhythmically they are very similar, and the main differences appear when we move to harmony. Western music relies on subtle movements of accompanying notes, used in combination, leading to the development of a system of keys and chord patterns. This is largely absent in Indian music, which relies for most of its effects on variations in the featured notes of the main instrument/singer. Inflections in the pitch of this main voice create the interest, and the overall ‘key’ of the music remains the same throughout. The bass note, the drone, does not move. Indian classical instruments are all designed with this in mind. In Indian music a singer will always sing in the same ‘key’, to his or her own ‘sa’. In Western music, the key of each piece can be different; the singer or instrument has a ‘range’ and the lowest note in this range will fall at different points in the ‘key’ in different pieces.

Q6. What is it that attracts you to music the most ?

Its emotional nature, its collaborative ethos, and the fact that there is always more to learn. It is not possible to write good music without respect for the form, or with any degree of cynicism in your heart.

Q7. Has there been an evolution of music in the past many years and how would you describe that very briefly?

In the West, music making has been opened up to more people through technology. This is a good thing in the sense that more people are expressing themselves, but the advent of cheap digital technology has also been a bad thing in that more and more people are making music that sounds almost exactly the same. Though the computer revolution may be a victory for the democratic principle, it has not enhanced the quality of the music actually being made. But the ancient rhythms still work, pulse and melody still move people, so in some ways little has changed.

Q8. Would you like to comment about the relationship between music and film ?

That is something that very clever people have written entire books about. The two go very well together. Music can be emotional but unspecific; film can be very detailed but still ambiguous. Together they combine to provide emotional narratives for the viewer, guiding the responses in a way that the two elements cannot do apart. A good film score should always work as music away from the film that generated it, and it should produce the same general emotions. The major problem comes when film makers want musicians to insert emotion into a film that lacks it. Music cannot save a poorly made film, and unfortunately sometimes musicians are made to feel guilty for this failing. Music can provide tension to a sequence that lacks structure, but it can never provide the payoff. Bad acting or scriptwriting cannot be saved. No one will like a character just because there is nice music under his or her lines. Jokes cannot be made funnier afterwards by a sting. If it’s not in the can or on the page then no amount of bluster on the soundtrack will make it work. When film and music are working well together, the viewer should experience the film as one complete entity, and ideally should not even notice the music. This may be a blow to some musicians’ egos, but anyone wishing to make a career in film music had better learn this lesson early on – or write music that stands on its own anyway. The director is the boss and the achievement of the film is the overall goal.

NFAI and FTII Film Appreciation course, Pune: Review
A four-week full-time course held annually from the past three decades.


The Film and Television Institute of India, FTII is an institution for film education in India since 1960, which is the year of its establishment on the erstwhile Prabhat Studio premises at Pune. The National Film Archive of India NFAI was established in February, 1964 as a media unit of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India whose mission is to safeguard the heritage of Indian Cinema for posterity and act as a centre for dissemination of a healthy film culture in the country. Both there organizations join hands to conduct the film appreciation course. FTII offers its expertise in film education and NFAI offers its vast archive of films from India and around the world and its very well stocked film library headed by Mrs Joshi who is a wonderful person who nurtures your love for learning and books.  The course and these two institutions are one of the most respected and hold an important place in film education even today. But I feel the golden age of film education with teachers like Ritwick Ghatak must be something else to experience and sit in a class with fellow talented students who latter on became great artists in their own right.

Course Timings: The 4 weeks do have a busy timetable. Your day starts at 9:30 am and ends at app 12 midnight. Towards the end of the course the grueling schedule might bother you.

Academic Approach: The course seems to follow more of an academic approach rather than a more practical approach. The style of teaching is also not very encouragingly interactive. But it is informative and does expose you to a lot of Indian and International films.

Faculty: Usually there is a diverse mix of lecturers including film personality guest interaction. Suresh Chabria and Gayatri Chatterjee are knowledgeable and their lectures are usually informative. Among the other lectures a special mention should be made of K Hariharan, Ranjani Majumdar. But it depends on the current year’s selection. A very brief introduction is given about the filmmaking process itself and does not cover an in-depth knowledge of same.

Course content: World cinema and Indian cinema including regional cinema and documentary films are covered in the course and quite a few films are shown in the duration of the course. At an average of two film screenings a day. The history of cinema and being exposed to film classics is a highlight of the course

Hostel and Food: The accommodation is not 3 star ofcourse, its what you would expect a hostel in India to be, and the rooms are on a triple or twin sharing basis, the toilets are usually outside the room with a common toilet for each floor. But it does depend on where exactly you are being offered a room as certain aspects might be better off in a particular campus. But this is a good opportunity to experience hostel life and hostel food if you have not, which is not so bad but do feast on the variety of eateries in Poona. To mention a few the Hamburger roadside stall just outside FTII is very famous with the locals and a must try besides the cold coffee which is down the lane, much better than the fancy Barista and Café Coffee day, but those options are also available very close to the campus. Then there is the Maggie stall and pavbhaji and not to forget the home made food from the Punjabi dhaba.

Admission: The course is conducted once a year and there is no guarantee that if you apply you will get admission. Many applicants are rejected a number of times but that should not necessarily be the reason to judge that you are not qualified for the course.