Thursday, May 14, 2009

countless new beginnings is the day. 14th of may 2009. i end my journey with script peoples theatre. i've turned film maker and a lot more...but there is a hollow feeling inside. a hollow feeling which is of not being able to be in the four colourful walls with even more coulourful people. its sad. but yes. i see a lot new beginnings and from here, i promise its gonna be one helluva ride. heres something to sign off with.

Internee Questionnaire

1. What are the changes you have observed in yourself post this internship?

Since the first day, I began this incredible journey, till today, almost eight months later, I seriously will miss out a lot of things when it comes to what all has changes in me. But definitely, each day has been an experience. But yes, when I have to give an account of what eminent changes I’ve noticed in myself, there are quite a few. First of all, through a major part of this experience, I have totally been in the company of people much elder to me, it may sound funny, but yes, I feel I’ve matured in my way of looking at situations in quite a few ways. There have been days of sheer laziness when there hasn’t been much to do. Here I think I owe a lot to theatre as I’ve learnt the virtue of patience. On the flip-side there have been days when there has been a lot to do; Days when I’ve spent over 15 hours here and every moment was a pleasure as the mind is always put to do something creative, something artistic. I need to admit, I’ve learnt to deal with tremendous workloads and pressure during these times. Something I didn’t expect to change so soon has also happened; I’ve lost a major bit of my bad temper which always got me into trouble. I don’t know how, but I know it has happened. I’ve learnt to take decisions. I know where I need to go from here.

2. What are aspects that you liked and which you particularly found helpful in this process?

The experience began with ‘Jesus in blue jeans’ which frankly speaking was not as enjoyable as the other bits but definitely ranks right on top when it comes to modules which I found helpful. It was a very practical book; it looked at life from all the different angles possible. It took time, but I believe a lot of it has slowly sunk into me. Project Accenture was by far the most fun and helpful of all the processes when it comes to both acting and life skills. I definitely felt a change in my acting, the way I reacted to situations and never felt intimidated by huge crowds/ audiences which I used to feel earlier. Travelled all around Bangalore and Delhi for the performances, it was an unbeatable experience. Though it was never a part of the internship schedule designed for me in the first place, it comfortably fell into place. Then began the two most amazing theatre workshops one can find. One of them being one of the most interactive and amazing form of theatre that one can come across. There was team building, oodles of creativity and amazing interactions through the sixty hours of each. Playback is something that I will not easily forget; easily the most amazing form of expression. Then began the work on the book and the film, I have to admit, these are two really difficult process, the planning which goes into either of them is tremendous. Without doubt, this was the most different part of the entire experience. Something which I had never experienced before. I loved the entire process. I could not learn more elsewhere. The film appreciation is another course which has been of great help. I now have a very different way of looking at films. There are minute things which I have begun noting, making my film watching experience a true delight.

3. What are aspects that you found were missing or need to be developed in this process?

It was a very wholesome experience, but the only part which I felt lacked a little was my experience on the stage. My proscenium experience. But I believe all the other experiences that I went through easily made up for the experience.

4. What did you feel was the level of faculty interaction? Was it adequate or not. Please discuss.

The best part about the process was the faculty. A great group to learn from in this field. A mix of experience, adventure, fun, serious work and some amazing insight into theatre. I thought this experience would have fallen flat had I not been with such people. Each one has a very different personality, a different way of looking at things, constantly providing something to learn from. The best part, I could talk to them about anything I felt like. Like I mentioned earlier, the age gap was there, but not once did I feel uncomfortable in their presence.

5. Your overall impression of the experience.

If I go on to describe my experience it would take me ages. But truly, I believe it was like a grooming school for me after my high school experience. Something which I believe is necessary for each and every student before entering college. I would say, this gain of one year for me is something which very few people get to experience. Since I have got such an opportunity and since I’ve enjoyed it as much as I could, the difference will definitely show in my future endeavours.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Myriad Facades

This is the day i've been waiting for since such a long time. My film is complete..well almost 99.99%. i finally know what my film will look like and it gives me immense joy. i'm pretty confident the viewers will appreciate the effort that has gone into it. besides from that, i watched i one of its kind, according to me a flawless film, 'THE BICYCLE THEIVES' by Vittorio De Sica. It was an experience, all on the lines of the neo-realistic theories. I truly loved the film.

Apart from all of this, as i write this blog, i know that i just have three more days to work on this laptop. i will seriosuly miss this exoerience. dont know what else to say, probably tomorrow is the day, when i'll officially become a film-maker. waiting for then, waiting till then. signing off.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

last few steps and a few great films

Its coming closer and closer, the day when this journey shall end. and i realise how much i'll be taking back with me. truly each day has been a unique learning experience. right now im having the privelege of watching the amazing films ever made. theres a lot to learn from each frame. following is my review of pather panchali. enjoy.

- Satyajit Ray

Pather Panchali is set in the rural Bengal of 1920s. The film is based on a family that lives in a distant village. The head of the family earns his livelihood through priesthood. He has a daughter, Durga (Uma Dasgupta) and a son, Apu (Subir Banerjee). Other than them he also looks after his wife Sarbojaya (Karuna Banerjee) and an aged cousin, Indir Thakrun (Chunibala Devi). The family struggles each day to make both ends meet as Harihar`s (Kanu Banerjee) income is meagre. But Harihar is a sort of man who can be easily exploited and his decency prevents him from asking for his own dues from his employers. As a father he dotes on Durga and Apu.

As the film proceeds the family is seen struggling for money and Harihar goes away to the city to earn more. With passing time less and less is heard from him by the family. In the meantime monsoon arrives and Durga gets herself drenched in rain. The already suffering family faces tragedy as Durga dies of fever on a stormy night. As the film nears its end the audience sees Apu brushing his teeth, combing his hair and doing things, which till now involved his sister and mother. His mother is surprised completely. Harihar returns and shows to his wife what he has brought from the city. As he shows the Saree which he had brought for Durga his wife breaks down but her voice is lost in the sound of the `tarshahnai.` Harihar breaks down too.

Pather Panchali ends with the family moving away from the village. As the film ends the focus slowly shifts to Apu. The narrative was for so long related from the perspective of Sarbojaya and Durga. In these final moments Apu is treated by the director as an individual.

The reasons why I truly loved the film:

Because of the acting. It is the most amazing side to Pather Panchali, even more than all of Ray’s talent. So divorced is this film from the usual cinematic conjuring tricks that an unusually heavy burden falls upon the cast. They must be utterly natural without boredom. A tough assignment for a professional cast, let alone Ray's amateur one.

Because there is never the slightest doubt that we are privy to a real family. The collective acting in Pather Panchali is superb. The way in which the actors work off of each other, reacting with emotion rather than thought, is a wonder to behold. This cohesion is especially impressive where little Durga and Apu are concerned. Both kids act in a delightfully unselfconscious and unsentimental manner, larking around and running after interesting people. They behave just like "real" children, bundles of excited, selfish and devious energy. The crowning aspect here is the powerful bond of affection that exists between them, drawing Durga and Apu close; this is where Pather Panchali ventures towards the magical and evades the miserable.

Because it's interesting to note that while the film resides in a society where boys are prized over girls, women dominate Ray's vision. Though Harihar is the unquestioned head of the family, his absence ensures that Sarbojaya wields the power. She cements them together, against the blows of existence, while all Harihar does is earn too-little money and waste it on tobacco. In some respects he is similar to Indir, a part of the family but not quite in the inner circle. Luckily Indir has presence, a cranky and cunning spirit, to make up for her physical failings. Towards the end Karuna Banerjee shoulders the family’s needs almost alone; her performance of desperation and hope has astonishing clarity for such depth.

Because of the most important character in the film is Durga - one that is very close to nature. Durga is Nature. Ray shoots her almost always amidst flora and fauna. She roams freely through the woods, groves, rice fields and in the rain without anyone stopping her. She is intrigued by man-made objects like locomotives and telegraph poles. Why, she even passes away after getting drenched in the rain.

Because of the last twenty minutes of Pather Panchali. It was life on celluloid. As the monsoon season takes over summer, skies darken and a breeze picks up. As the surface of the water starts pulsating, flies and other minute life forms gather over it. One wishes that this scene never ends.

Because Pather Panchali appeals directly to the sub-conscious. Hypnotic may be the proper word. Throughout the film, there is almost no shot where life is not seen. We always see some life form or the other playing around on the screen. Dogs, cats, cattle and humans galore, Pather Panchali is a film that overflows with vitality.

Because even though there is a lot of life in the frames of the film, the standout trope in it is death and decay - Durga’s, Indira’s, their house’s. Life exists in Pather Panchali only to be undercut by stronger forces. Life is not the focus but the epiphenomenon, a mere tool to underscore the frightening power of other things that control it.

When Ray depicts this depressing conclusion; the sharp edges of tension, surprise and terror that tear through the fabric of Pather Panchali grow naturally from within the story. Events happen, then the consequences; destiny, good or bad, comes to be inescapable. What makes Pather Panchali more than just a lyrical work of fiction is that Ray addresses universal concerns; how families deal with random catastrophe, how people unwittingly hurt one another, how parents love their children unconditionally. Yet as insightful as Ray is to the reality of rural India, a place of little opportunity, there's a distance between audience and cast. For viewers suckled on the primary emotion of Western cinema, Ray's undemonstrative and muted approach can fail to make an impact. Combined with Ray's extensive use of symbolism, some of which is sure to go over foreign heads, Pather Panchali may seem less than the sum of its critical acclaim.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

a dead end with open doors.

So here i was, with the software on my computer, without the video, which i was supposed to be editig. my original video was in a format which could nothave been edited, so we went on a hunt for people who could convert our video for us. one long, incredibly warm day, we went on a major hunt wasted quite some money and got fooled. Day 2 of our hunt, we went back looking for our money's worth, we got royally fooled again. no problems, we gathered courage and moved on in the evening looking for out editable treasure. we found a guy, really humbe and kind who helped us get what we needed on the first call. by the end, after having paind over 500rs to random people around town, we had what we most needed to begin work.

two more days, and after lots of heated discussions with my colleague, we were ready with my film, all that we needed to complete the film was the music. currently i am working with a professional from Delhi for the same, looking forward to completing my film as soon as possible.

apart from that, eah day as i enter office these days, a weird feeling fills me up. i wont be leaving my helmet behind that door in under 8 eight days from now. i wouldnt laze around in the massive couches outside in very little time. my internship is soon getting over and it soon is a very weird feeling to have.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

ghee rice and sweet raindrops

The day didn't really start of very well, it was blistering heat in the morning and the traffic was just too bad, my head in the helmet felt like what a chicken would feel insie a tandoor. i can not explain the feeling. i got to office, and started exploring the next video editing software i'd found, THE ADOBE PREMIERE PRO CS4, in a few hours i was in love. undoubtedly the mother of all editing softwares. i cant wait to get the format right an start editing my film. it will be one experience.
then i went to have a good biryani for lunch but the que outside the place was so huge that i ended up in from of a plate of my favourite ghee rice and kebabs at empire. it was good fun, one heavy meal and just as we got onto the bike, the raingods were looking down at us, ready to pour with full force, i entered the college parking lot and the rain started coming down heavily. quite obviously on our wayup, we tasted a few sweet raindrops as well.
I totally forgot about the traffic and the heat of the moning, thats what bangalore weather does probably. im loving it now and after a good game of chess and a lot more exploring, i cannot wait for friday morning, when i'll hopefull tear my film apart.

Monday, April 20, 2009

~~~ dEsSeRTs ~~~

After a terrific shoot, it was time for another uphill task for me, completing the book. I took me about one whole week after that to come somewhere close to completing my part of the book. All we need to do now is to put all the material together and come up with a draft print which would then go for proof reading. It has been one incredible journey with the book. It all began in January when I'd returned from home after a good vacation. There was heaps of material to work with and slowly, with all the other things going on, we now have got somewhere really close to a completed book. Constant additions kept happening, changes in plan, changes in material, even changes in illustration, but the process is still not complete. I really have realized how difficult the entire process can be. We are also thinking of approaching a few publishers for the same and that will probably be an even greater challenge than writing the book itself. But we surely believe that the book has enough to find itself some good publishers.

The icing on the cake has started to be laid, my last exercise, the film appreciation course just began last weekend. That too with a bengali film by Gautam Ghose called 'Antarjali Yatra' (The voyage beyond). By the time the film appreciation course ends for me, my internship with script people theatre will almost be over. I'm sure the film appreciation course will the perfect dessert for this huge so-many-course-meal of my life. I'm currently working on another brilliant film called Aamir and surely this last leg has begun just perfectly for me.

Ill keep posting about myself and a lot more films, and for everyone, enjoy the IPL.