Film Education

INCEPTION: A film by Christopher Nolan
July 27, 2010, 3:27 pm
Filed under: Film Musings

“INCEPTION” A film by Christopher Nolan

I would like to start with Nolan’s own words about his initial inspiration behind “Inception” and how it developed into the movie it is today.

I’d always wanted to make a film that addressed dreams, and do something set in that world. About ten years ago I focused in on the idea of a technology that might allow people to share their dreams, and the uses and abuses of that, and came up with this idea of doing a heist film set in the world of dreams where somebody could use a technology to penetrate a person’s subconscious.

The idea was always to tell a large-scale action film with an unusual twist to the world in which it takes place.

Christopher Nolan

The above points at two key elements which are

a) The basic idea behind the film

b) The treatment of the film

The idea behind the film which is the world of dreams, the mind and its infinite possibilities is exciting. Once that ‘idea’ took root in my mind I was greedy and felt the film did not want or rather did not choose consciously to leave the audience with a contemplative pause of a deeper nature, it was more concerned with the unfolding of the plot. But having said that it definitely offered the audience more than a regular formula Hollywood film.

Instead of the perfect heist,

Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse; their task is not to steal an

idea but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime.

But no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the

dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy that only Cobb

could have seen coming.

This summer, your mind is the scene of the crime.

The intrusion of the individual’s mind with the dream as a tool is happening at three levels. At one very personal and emotional level of the key protagonist Cobb with who we identify with and at the other level with the main heist which is the framework story on which the plot of the film is strung on (ofcourse this is if you don’t get into the endless readings of the film which the nature of it has opened up to various eager audiences one of which is the film itself is a dream and nothing is real). So the film explores a personal and human story of intrusion of a loved one and also uses a very different kind of theft, and public intrusion which is entering someone’s mind without their consent at the level of the framework story. The third level of intrusion is the mind of the audience.

The personal level does dwell on the dangerous track of the real and the unreal and the thin line between sanity and insanity but it does not touch upon the other side of the potential of the subconscious and I would like to discuss that.

What kind of dreams are we exposed to, there seems to be the use of a phenomenon called the lucid dream that is taking place in the film. And here I will take the liberty to talk about this for a moment. A lucid dream is a dream in which the dreamer is aware that he is dreaming. The dream usually becomes more vivid and memorable. Through controlling the dream, the dreamer can do anything possible, and most things impossible. Lucid dreamers use these to inspire, introspect and entertain.  In early ages of history, lucid dreams were usually dealt with a lot of mysticism, and were usually associated with divine revelations. Actually, Indian shamans would be recognized by them having a lucid dream, as it was associated with the spiritual world. Further on, Tibetan Buddhists were practicing a form of yoga responsible for making a person stay conscious while dreaming. The first person to use the term “lucid dreaming” was the psychiatrist Frederik van Eeden, describing them as when someone would have the insight of being dreaming.

Lucid dreams are possible and if I am not wrong Nolan himself has experienced lucid dreams. But when asked if he could imagine that if we’ll ever have the technology to access another person’s dream? He says and  I quote “I don’t think we will, no. While I enjoyed playing with the idea for the story, I came away with the realisation that the fact our dreams are private is very important. I came away feeling like our minds aren’t understood fully by science, and that kind of technology just couldn’t happen.”

Despite the fact that lucid dreaming is a profound state of consciousness, and is a metaphor for enlightenment, or spiritual awakening by some like the Tibetian Buddhist monks does the film explore that aspect of reaching a more profound space in the dreamscape or could he really within the confines of the heist plot he had structured for the film. What is the state of limbo that the film talks about. Is the film presenting a particular philosophy or psychology of the mind is an interesting question to ponder over.

The film opens on the shores of the subconscious and explores levels of the subconscious mind all throughout the film but how is the nature of the deepest layer revealed, what is its quality and nature besides time being slowed as compared to the other layers what else happens, or have I missed something? As a philosophical question what does the deeper level of the subconscious offer man. Why is there an urge among artists and seekers to enter the deeper levels of the subconscious? We were taken to the shores of the sub conscious but maybe not allowed to dive deep into it. But maybe the film tried to stick with reality otherwise the relative reality of what the subconscious mind offers would not be apt to explore for a Hollywood film and it would not be a blockbuster.

Talking about the treatment or style, I feel its closer to a Hollywood film but in that package manages to seep in a lot of food for thought and not a passive experience for sure. It’s an entertaining film and works as an intellectual jigsaw puzzle and touches the emotional chord however not trying too hard to appeal to the soul. Also I felt for a dream logic things were too orderly and except for the few instances like the train rushing onto the road, the laws of physics being played with occasionally, the dreamscape and dream logic was a bit less for my personal liking.

And to end this musing with Nolan’s own words again as quoted below – if this is what he wanted he did a very good job of it with some great performance by Leonardo DiCaprio(Dom Cobb) and my personal favourite in the film Marion Cotillard(Mal) who bought along with her a stunning screen presence and emotional depth.

“I think inception combines a lot of different genre, a lot of different types of movie making I am interested in. Primarily I think it’s a massively entertaining grand scale action film. Its something of a heist movie, its something of a science fiction film. It really combines a lot of different elements. Its also a love story I think at the heart of it. I like to think that its got a bit of something for everybody in there. Certainly for me, my ambition was to create a story and a world that embraced different types of human experience. All the types of grand scale Hollywood entertainment that I like to imagine is going to come on screen when I go to see a movie.”


THH PETH FORT Film Appreciation Family Trek
July 23, 2010, 6:24 pm
Filed under: Film/Acting Family Speak | Tags: , , ,

The PETH FORT Film Appreciation Family Trek

A casual trek with the FA family. This trek had really nothing to do with films but next time I plan one I surely want to add a few features to it to give it a unique character. We started from Bombay at 5:45 am and reached back home at app 10 pm. It was a refreshing change in the lap of nature.

We passed through a small village called Ambivali and on our way up took small kids as guides and ordered food for our return. The weather was just perfect and even though hard work it was refreshing.

Shweta thanks for suggesting the place and enjoyed having you on the trek, you were rock solid !

I am sharing some moments from the trek below

FA gang posing at Ambivali village with our little guides

Sanchita with the village kids

the kid

Peth Fort in view with Kaustav posing

Preeti: The tree and the setting was too tempting to resist a picture

We could not resist the temptation of posing with this tree and the setting

Sapna and the tree

Chai break

Back on track

Look its magic

The Last Steps to the top. Sorry for the view from the top you have to have been there with us. It was raining and there are no pics. I wanted to enjoy the moment and we had some interesting moments there again only to be experienced cannot be expressed in words 🙂

Madhu: back on track on the journey downwards

The start point

Behind the scenes: “Clap Trap” – Part 4

Behind the scenes: “Clap Trap” – Part 4

By Sorab Irani – Chairman/Managing Director, SBI Impresario Pvt. Ltd.

The observational mode of documentary film making was of documentary returning to ideals of truth. The innovation and evolution of cinematic hardware in the 1960s made this very possible. The emphasis was on mobility as, new, light equipment made possible an intimacy of observation new to documentary, and this involved sound as well as image. The move to lighter 16mm equipment and shoulder mounted cameras allowed documentarians to leave the anchored point of the tripod. Portable Nagra sync-sound systems and unidirectional microphones, too, freed the documentarian from cumbersome audio equipment. A two-person film crew could now bring real truth to the documentary milieu.

Unlike the subjective content of poetic documentary, or the rhetorical insistence of expositional documentary, observational documentaries simply observe, allowing viewers to reach whatever conclusions they may deduce. The camera, while moving with subjects and staying in the action, remains as unobtrusive as possible, mutely recording events as they happen. Pure observational documentarians proceeded under some bylaws: no music, no interviews, no scene arrangement of any kind, and no narration. The fly-on-the-wall perspective is championed, while editing processes utilize long takes and few cuts. Resultant footage appears as though the viewer is witnessing first-hand the experiences of the subject so to say.

As a producer I wanted to make a good observational style documentary. It was therefore very essential that we had a camera person and a sound recordist who were aware of this style of film-making. My choice fell on Navroze Contractor for camera and Inderjit Niyogi for sound. Navroze was a veteran world renown camera man in India and had shot umpteen documentaries for European filmmakers and had the all important sense of grabbing a slice of reality as it was happening, this is an instinctual thing and only gets developed with time and experience. So when Navroze’s eye went towards the camera eye piece Indrajit Niyogi the recordist would simply start the nagra. Indrajit and Dileep Subramanium (fondly called Subu), who latter formed a team and a company and worked together were one of the best sync sound recordists in India at the time. This was an essential combination necessary to achieve capturing ‘reality in motion’.

Owing to my other commitments at the time I realized I needed the services of a director. After much consideration I decided to get Jill Misquitta an FTII trained director to do the job. Jill was married to Cyrus Mistry an author play writer of some repute in Mumbai.

Basically it was decided that we observe the world of the extras. To bring a human interest focus to this exercise from our research we picked two interesting characters and for balance one male Masood and one female Pummi.

The story carries on in my next post.



Exclusively designed and conducted for Kishore Namit Kapoor Acting Institute for the first time in India

“I use to find it difficult to cry for a scene but now its so easy”

“I don’t have to fight with my real girlfriend anymore in my imagination”

“It was sometimes difficult to have romantic feelings for boys in a class exercise but not anymore”

The joy of sharing a new technique with aspiring actors was a lovely experience and receiving their feedback was satisfying.

As an artist I am fascinated by the artform of acting where its ‘you’ who are the artwork itself. You are the creator, the medium and the effect. Ofcourse at times the process is very challenging but its important to remind ourselves that we have two paths to choose from,  one that leads to self destruction and the other that leads to evolution and I ofcourse choose to emphasize the latter.

Chekhov acting training created by Michael Chekhov is one of the most modern acting training techniques internationally and has been adopted by leading Hollywood actors like Anthony Hopkins, Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt etc. among others

Oorvazi Irani in action with the KNK acting batch

This training technique allows you to experience your Infinite Self.

Its a transformation beyond your limited self using techniques like  Psychological Gesture, Sensations, Imaginary Body, Imaginary Centres … and creating a wide range of characters and emotions with the basic tools of your body and imagination.