Cinema has been an important instrument of personal growth and challenges. I always try to face a situation and interpret as how would I react to a certain peculiar situation. Life is a big teacher and cinema is a lesson that teaches us many things in life. Joy, sorrow, introspection, identity, journey are some of the most important aspects that has stirred me. The recent challenges in my life, an emotional struggle with life and within myself, have questions. The answers to these questions are easy to come by if you accept it and harder if you decide not to accept the truth and rather fight a myth.
Last fortnight, I had the privilege to watch a few beautiful movies that stirred my soul, and asked me tough questions. Osian Cine Fan Festival held recently at Siri Fort Auditorium in New Delhi provided a perfect escape sojourn from the humdrum mayhem of a mundane metro life. It exposed my inabilities, my inexperience, my myths and truths that I decide not to embrace. I was numb as I sit back today and try to unlearn many things. Life throws whatever comes its way and we are sometimes clueless as how we would react to it. Of course, we are good in ‘celebrating’ happiness, joy and festival. But, are we really celebrating? We often lament that we are naive when it comes to sorrow, pain and myths. Are we stepping a step at a time?
Life is short and it’s full of spectacle, both dark and light. Sometimes, we know exactly what we need to do to live more and die a little less. Les Miscreant e (The Miscreants) taught me that life may have challenges and threats, if you consider death as a threat, but you never stop breathing. This movie challenged the methodology of violent protest as against the sustenance of a cultural protest. The latter method is more critical in bringing changes where it matters: within one inner self. It makes one think as why is he doing it. The sound of drums of echoes louder than the sounds of gun shots as the rhythm is closer to the heart. Its not about the cultural resistance that we face or impose, as a social entity or being part of a ‘responsible society,’ but its about seeing the rational behind a particular voice, understanding the tone and replying in a language which is lasting, impressive and heart hitting, if not changing at least.
And, as we breath, we forgets to respect it. The freshness in a breath is something going elusive. We talk about it, we write about it but we do little about it. Its how you react rather than how you want others to react. We live and we eat but we litter too. That is a tragedy that is slowly but very stealthily seeping into our daily lives. “The Orange Suit” is an Iranian film that wants to instill that sense of cleanliness in your lives, both internally and externally, as well as clean up the litters that makes one’s lives horrific. It questioned me: why do I not clean up myself; i.e. spiritually? How can I achieve inner peace if there is dirt in me? And, if you keep your surrounding environment clean, it helps one to enjoy positive energy and how it can help one to improve one’s solitary journey onto life. The film challenged the protagonist and showed how his unanswered, or questions which he did not face, were answered when he tried to find answers of his relation with his son and wife.
The voice may be small but cinematic expression makes sure that it is being heard in the right spirit. As the questions with regard to the identity of the feature film “As the river flows” remains unanswered, I, as spectator, don’t have any inhibition in discovering that this is indeed an Assamese movie. The expression of an Assamese born and raised during the troubled years are said through this movie. This is what I wanted to tell and this is what any other rational and humane person from the land of Brahmaputra will tell you. The story revolves around a mysterious disappearance of a social activist and a friend’s effort, through his journalistic ethics, to find answers. His journey led him to believe in many questions rather than as many or far lesser answers. He found answers in many questions that remains unanswered. The love and hate relationship, the chicken and egg story, the beauty of nature and ugliness of society, the magic of culture and evil of distrust runs deep. And, one is never alone. Everyone is accompanied by a painful, often bloody, history with an urge to make amends that went awfully weird, wrong and wrestling between urge for change and power. This is indeed put up the question that we have been facing since a long time now and the search for an answer remains elusive.
To remain a living creature from a town by the bank of the Brahmaputra, the Local Kung Fu is a piece of cinema that deserves a special mention. Carved out of a mere budget of INR 95 K only, this movie binds the influence of martial art comedy movies of Jackie Chan and combines it with some brilliant screenplay with awesome comic timing based on typical Guwahati city life and customs. What makes this cinema beautiful (apart from wonderfully comic scenes & timings) that it instills a sense of accomplishment by someone with limited resources and unlimited dreams. It is an effort that needs to be applauded much more than any other cinema because it gives inspiration to people who never thought that they want to do something like a cinema. It inspired critics to laud the effort put in creating such a wonderful cinema. It inspired me to try my Nikon D31oo to make a short 5 to 10 minute cinema. Experimenting with novetly! It inspired me to try a new thing in life, an unknown thing! Thanks Kenny for crafting such a wonderful cinema.
At this festival, we celebrate life, or at least its varied shadows. I saw the ruthlessness of life. The violent tragedy that may dawn upon someone, anyone. In a land where violence and terrorism goes hand in hand, the value of human life may be cheap. But, is the value of people missing high? In ‘The Repentant,’ a person deserts his terrorist group and joins back his family. He left it because of the death that loomed large following bombing in his hideout and depleted morale of the group. He deserts and come back to his home. But, “Karma” follows him and he has to fled to the town. There he experienced something that he never did. He gets attracted to the smaller beauties of life. But that was to end when his past life came back to haunt him once again. He met a pharmacist. It was a drama about how his information about his daughter would bring together three estranged characters together on a road trip right down to the heart of the disturbed land. I had goosebumps when the Mother cried and tried to wake her daughter who has been sleeping since five years. The Repentant knew where she was sleeping.
“Music makes the people come together”, Madonna once sang. This is the magic wand that would bind people who would love it together without adhering to political differences, religious differences, geographical differences or even age differences. During a brilliantly poignant musical documentary “El Gusto,” I felt why this is the biggest gift of god. Life is no more painful when you pick up your instrument of music and play it or listen to it. All your pains of yesteryear and many years, will die down and you will walk back to the time when it was just absolutely beautiful. All friends come together and sing a song for themselves, for their own selfish happiness. And, it works wonders. A beautifully shot and documented film that started with a Mirror. And, a mirror it was that would reflect the various faces of a society that was once together by the sole power of music. The music is known as “El Gusto.”
And, music that still rules this magnificent, rustic, raw cinema from Anurag Kashyap. It may have got the popular imagination but its worth its hype. For a hall that is packed with people, who were occupying anything that can be used to rest their bums and watch a non stop five and half hours of cinematic excellence from Bollywood from a long time. The dialogues, the pangs, the violence, the romance, the revenge, the gorgeous women, the superb actors, and a superb background made “Gangs of Wasseypur I & II” just a superb experience. So much so that I was reluctant to spoil the mood of our very own “Tony Montana” of Scarface fame in this movie. The director also ensured that the red is applied gorgeously in the entire scheme of things. And, what a bloody messy affair it was! Faizal Khan (like Tony Montana in Scarface) would be drowned in marijuana but remain in perfect control about the gang politics. He remained fateful to his beloved and they remain in love as expressed by their gold rimmed aviators. The climax was expected but the angst of the revenge and gravity of the scene can only match the ferocity with which Tony Montana fought and died. Of course, Faizal did not die then and there. But, you never know! Nothing is ‘Definite!’ Does he carry on Sardar Khan’s honour forward? Well, of course, he does but life has its own plans. Avenging pride is one of them, and Faisal does that perfectly. Sardar Khan will be ‘Definite’ly be proud of Faisal.
Two movies that made me sit up and stand were Rituporno’s “Chitrangada” and Asish Shukla’s “Prague.” Both of them asked questions. As I ask myself, who am I, why am I, and why am I. These are some basic questions that we always ask and we wonder if we are doing right or wrong or are we just playing alike because others are. Are we really interested to know why we are doing something? Most of the time, we dont know. Chitrangada is inspired by the play with the same title written by Rabindranath Tagore and the director’s modern interpretation about it. It questions about complex emotional stress and how one’s own interests, desires and hopes are shaped because of some other exogenous factors. Why do we want to change for someone else when you really do not want to? Are we remain happy after going through such a change? Or, are we going to go back to listen to our own heart rather than someone’s else. Its a slow process of establishing the fact that not everything is alright when you are only listening to yourself. Or, you may be inspired by your situations. Life is complex but the basic idea is to keep walking. Talking to oneself, arguing with your alter ego and deliberate on something that you may or may not like are things that we all undergo. This cinematic expressions exposes our innate desires and how we struggle to keep pace with them. The plot of the film is based upon two persons in love but this should not essentially be locked in that premise. The idea is universal and every person with a brain that works right face these dilemmas in their life.
“Prague” is not just a wonderful city to live and breath but its also the name of the movie that enthralled both audience as well as critics alike. Its an interesting psychedelic struggle where a person wants to destroy something which he appreciates as much. Its a soul stirring and heart wrenching cinema that challenges the dark side in us and how we love to become evil even when we are in love. It tries to discover the darkest corners of one’s heart, suffocate your soul to find out who you really are, preserve your jealousy and kill your suspicion. And, you remain in romance with your dead. This is pure cinematic delight when it comes to experimental cinema in India. This is surely a notch above “No Smoking” or “Aks.” Go for it if you want to challenge yourself and want to know your darkside and be in love with your dead.