Archive for March, 2013

March 25, 2013

It’s celluloid… it’s digital…no, it’s cinema.

It probably requires a more experienced and learned mind to explore something so technical in an art form. But this technicality results in a gratification for the viewer, making him the most apt administrator of subjectivity.

The argument is fairly simple; digital vs. celluloid.

Like all things new, digital has its fair share of detractors because of the fact that the quality of image on film is far more superior, and with a certain artistic character, than it is on a microchip. To a director and a cinematographer, this means a great deal because they are the ones whose vision gets imprinted on both these media. One look at the recently coloured Mughal-e-Azam vis-à-vis the original is ample proof of the limitations of digital image manipulation. But when as a viewer you look at the histrionics of The Matrix with its slow motion gun fights, helicopter chases and lavish multiple roles, it becomes evident that digital must lead to the exploration of a new tangent in the history of cinema. Cost, distribution, safety and archival value are some of the aspects within whose framework this debate may be taken forward. But as implied earlier, this exercise is fairly academic. [Side By Side, a recent documentary on this very issue tried to go deeper into this argument. Watch it if you need to go into the depth of digital and celluloid filmmaking. Watch it anyway, it is a nice film.]

Mine is a generation of digital film buffs. Not so much because we have seen only digitally made films but more so because we have seen most films digitally. Cinephiles pay enormous sums of money and invest entire lifestyles to watch all kinds of films on the big screen. But most of these screenings are digital in nature. No matter how the film was shot, its exhibition on most screens is digital. And to top that, the pirate bay (and others) has helped feed the starved cine buffs with a constant supply of classics from around the globe. And we of course watch them on our small computer screens, or in some cases project them digitally onto a relatively bigger screen. The point is that we hardly know how an Eisenstein or Lang looks when projected naturally on a big screen. The relation between the audio and the video must be different to that witnessed by many on our computers. Even if one takes the ‘beautiful’ Hollywood as an example, Leave Her To Heaven must surely feel different when seen through celluloid. What is this difference? How does it affect a viewer-screen relationship? I do not know, but would want to experience dearly. I will go to see a Bergman or a Dreyer on the big screen in spite of what the projection is, but it would be so much more appealing if it was through actual celluloid. Having said this, it would be really unfair to ask all exhibitors of good classics (like PVR in India) to strictly conform to standards of projections. Beggars can’t be choosers, but every once in a while we ought to be pampered.

Good cinema is not prisoner to trivialities like microchips, cameras and projectors. If Chris Nolan swears by celluloid even when shooting The Dark Night Rises; good for him. But then if Leo Carax shoots Holy Motors on digital, he really shouldn’t get too grumpy about it either. Good cinema is good cinema.

Facts About Projection from Studiocanoe on Vimeo.

March 21, 2013

Sonapani Film Festival, March 2013

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[This post is in Hindi, Urdu and English | Ye post Hindi, Urdu aur English mein hai]

Sonapani jaakar ek ajeeb si khushi ka ehsaas hota hai. ye soorat-e-haal imagine karein:

Pahadon mein sarsari si thand hai aur hawa thodi khushq hai. Ek cement se bana raasta dhalta dikhta hai, jaise invite kar raha ho ki aao, mujhpar chalo. Kuch hi door chalkar ek pagdandi kat-ti hai. Pedon ki chhaon se saja hua gaon ka yeh raasta kitna chup hai. Nazar seedha un barfile pahaadon par padti hai. Himalaya. Bahut door hain wo pahaad par jo dikh gaye, to maano chhoo hi liya. Gaon ke gharon ki chhaton par achaar dhoop sek rahe hain, baraamde mein ek kutta oongh raha hai aur ek-aadh bacchhe sheher se aate log dekhkar thoda lajawaab se hain. Itni chahal kadmee ke baad gala sookh raha hai, saans phool uthi hai. Ek aakhri dhalaan ke baad kuch hi metre door chand cottages dikhaye dete hain. Ye hi Himalayan Village Sonapani hai. Yahan filmein dekhai jaati hain.

Ek film buff ke liye film festival ki isse acchi setting ho hi nahi sakti.

***

Ghar par, main roz ek film dekhne ki koshish karta hun. Kayi din ek se zyada bhi dekh leta hun. Magar sab akele hi. Agar koi wahiyaad film dekhi to koi baat nahi, magar acchhi film dekhne ki khushi jab tak zaahir na ki jaaye, experience adhoora rehta hai. Koi bade festival (jaise Osian) mein bhaag daud itni hoti hai ki filmein bhool jaati hain. Ek visual fatigue sa aa jaata hai. Beshak wahan acchi film ke upar charcha hoti hai magar kuch fast forward mein.

Sonapani mein aaraam se filmein dikhayi jaati hain.

Gurpal (is festival ke curator) ka mijaaz aaraam talab hai. aur baat cheet karna unhein pasand hai. To isliye bina hadbadahat ke filmein chalti hain aur free-wheeling talk with the filmmakers hota hai. Aur host Ashish aur Deepa is baat ka khayaal rakhte hain ki sabka pet bhara rahe. Naashta, lunch, dinner to jayaz hai, magar wo sham ki chaaye, 7 baje ka soup aur raat hote hote garam appetizers, film appreciation ko ek naya ayaam dete hain.

3 din ke is festival mein 3 filmmaker hissa lete hain. Unki filmein lined-up rehti hain. Is baar FTII ke pass outs Surabhi Sharma, Amit Dutta aur Susant Misra aaye the. Kuch technical problems ke kaaran is baar kuch kam filmein dekh paaye magar jitni bhi dekhin, mazaa aa gaya. Surabhi ki filmon mein unke subject ke prati empathy thi, chahe wo planned city of Chandigarh ho ya Bambai ke bidesi. Susant ki filmein ek kahani ki gehraayi se zindagi nikaalne ki koshish kar rahi thin. Unke kirdaar ji rahe the aur dekhte hi dekhte film khatam ho jaati thi. Amit ka cinema ke liye pyaar aur pagalpan unki filmon mein saaf dikhta hai. Shabd aur image ka relation itne layers paida karta hai ki ek cinephile ke liye unki filmein khazaane ki tarah hain. Teenon hi filmmakers mein ek common influence obvious tha. Mani Kaul school of thought se paida huye time-space relation aur narrative simplicity ko hum har film mein khoj sakte hain.

***

Nainsukh! Waah.

Aisi bahut si filmein hain jinko dekhkar main roya hun, hasa hun ya mujhe mazaa aaya hai. Bahut kam aisi filmein hain jinko dekh kar dil khush hua hai. Nainsukh is doosri category mein aati hai. Kaise ek art form doosre art form se converse kar raha hai, aur aisa karne mein donon hi forms ko explore kiya jaa raha hai. Waah. Mujhe fine arts kabhi samajh nahi aaye (maine samajhne ki zyada koshish bhi nahi ki). Lekin jab cinema ke through miniature paintings ki baat uthi to un chhoti chhoti ‘descriptions’ ka matlab saaf huya. Ek painting ka drama recreate huaa celluloid par! Camera ka frame ek painting ki tarah rakhha gaya. Seedha. Static. Ek hi perspective ke saath. Aur usi moving image mein tension build ki gayi, chahe wo sher ke shikaar ka scene ho ya phir mehal ke andar mehfil ka. Agar camera kisi jagah perspective badal deta, painting ke doosri taraf se dekhta, to shayad main screening ke dauraan naachne lagta. Amit ne kaha ki aisa karna excessive ho jaata (camera ka movement, mera naachna nahin), aur kahin na kahin ye Nainsukh ki ‘language’ mein fit nahi hota. Haan, shayad. Magar main ab bhi maanta hun ki ek pal ke liye hi sahi, agar camera us language ko break karta to wohi language aur bhi zyaada ubhar kar viewers ko dikhti.

Ummeed hai ki ye film jald hi dvd par aayegi. Ek baar mein dil nahin bhara.

***

Sonapani baar baar aane par majboor karta hai. Khaaskar ek maverick filmmaker aur cinephile ko, jiske liye yahan seekhne laayak ek crore battees lakh cheezein hain. Pichhle saal isi festival mein Amlan Datta se mulakaat huyi thi. Tab pata laga ki zindagi ki koi disha nahi hoti. Wo film banane Malana gaye tha aur wahin ke ho gaye, ab shayad filmein bhi nahin banayege. Is baar digital aur celluloid ke beech ho rahi tug-of-war par baat hui. Digital mein technology haavi hoti hai aur celluloid mein dimaag (ya dil?). Digital filmmakers ko apne dimaag ki kasrat karni zaroori hai nahin to youtube ke video banane kaabil hi reh jaayenge. Aur aisi bahut si baatein hain jinmein se kuch andar jazb ho gayin hain aur kuch nashe mein kahin kho gayin hain. Khair…

Ab agle festival ka intezaar hai. Nayi filmein. Naye – puraane log. Nayi baatein. Puraani yaadein.

 

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