Monday, September 23, 2013

Why I think we do not make meaningful Cinema.

Indian Cinema- Hindi to be more precise since I have not watched much of regional films dishes out several hundred movies in a year. Some of them do get recognition that they deserve and win some awards in the festival circuit. A few others make decent money at the box office. Within that construct, Hindi Cinema seems normal, complete and solvent enough to be reckoned as one of the major cinemas of the world.

However there is always a lament among some of us - we are often heard saying that "we dont make meaningful cinema" or that "average story with song and dance" or "I like Korean movies more". One of the simpler reason for the same is that entire categories of genre are missing in Hindi Cinema, a fact which perhaps make it one dimensional in appeal.
  1. Not enough biographies - No not about Gandhis or Nehrus. But about some extraordinary people in other walks of life whose life would make a fascinating story to tell. Stories of personal courage are often quite satisfying and uplifting. But film makers should refrain from economizing on truth or trying to put a commercial cinema packaging around a real life story. If told honestly, a biography can be a gem just Paan Singh Tomar turn out to be and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag did not.
  2. Not enough stories about immigrants - Yes we are not America and Delhi or Mumbai are far from being called Global Melting Pots but look around you. In Delhi, you can easily spot a Sikh from Jalalabad speaking in strange accent of Punjabi in Ghaffar Market or a West African  who is by the a Nigerian trying to get into a Metro in CP or that stranger with a suspicious satchel in a University Special from East Delhi to North Campus. Often theirs are poignant stories, of exploitation, loneliness, rare friendships and rarer still of triumphs. I can not recall any movie apart from Kabuliwala that was made ages ago.
  3. Not enough violence - Violence shown in contemporary movies is not violence. It is either well choreographed sequence that is enacted by action heroes ably supported by wires or dozens of Scorpio cars defying gravity in the background while our hero emerges from nowhere. It is unnatural at its worst and funny at the best. The raw appeal of violence is missing from such scenes. The one scene that used no wires or stunts or graphics is that of Ed Norton's Neo Nazi character in American History X forcing a black man to keep his mouth open on the sides of the kerb while he brings a ferocious blow of a baseball bat at the back of his victim's head. Another good example that I can recall is violence that Kevin Spacey's character unleashes on his victims, particularly that prostitute who is bled to death in the most macabre way. Jack the Ripper would have been proud of Spacey's character.
  4. There are others as well - Espionage, Political thrillers etc that are completely missing from the wardrobe. And Agent Vinods and Rajneeti are not exactly exemplary pieces of art. 

(To be continued)

What do I write about?

Should I write about my favorite topic - geopolitics and make a case of hyper realism in Indian strategic outlook. But alas I can not because I do not have any training in political science or international relations. All I have is knowledge that I have gathered by reading up few of the policy experts and therefore would not be able to write more than 100 words without quoting a published work.

Should I write about that dark story that I have thought about during one of many bouts of depression. The one in which all the four members of an otherwise normal family kills their respective nemesis during day only to return to the normalcy of their dinner table. I have not quite got the motives and method of murder chalked out. So there goes this thread as well.

Should I write about a raging topic - rapes, girl child, khaap, middle class hypocrisy and self righteousness . I do get urge to write on these topics every now and then but the words fail me and all I am left with are angry ripostes that I put on facebook status updates.

Should I write about Cinema? Should I write movie reviews? I would like to call myself a film buff and over last few years also tried to enjoy world cinema - Iranian in particular. But the lack of vocabulary when it comes to technicalities is the elephant in the room that I can not ignore.

Should I again try my hand at conjuring some silly story like I did with this blog - which was part biographical but mostly silly.

Where does that leave me? Should I talk about my childhood memories - try to make up some stories that have deeper meanings? May be I can, but till then I am busy with this “making up business”.

All in vain

Several aeons ago, a man came down to my neighborhood in West Delhi and set up a tent in a plot of land next to local grocery stores. Then he put on a strange show for the residents of that low middle class locality. He rode his bicycle in circles non stop for 4 or 5 days. The numbers of onlookers would swell during evenings, with knicker clad kids like myself making the most numbers. To this day, I could not quite understand in terms of how the strange cyclist made money for his 72 hour of motion sickness defying spectacle. To me, it remained a pointless exercise - going through extreme discomfort, pain and to top it all, misery of being called and looked as a freak.