The greatest excitement about art is the process of creating it. Yes. It is.
When that illusive bolt of lightning strikes; you know what hand gesture would give that missing edge to the character, or what blocking would elevate the play to a new meaning altogether, or even when you haven’t a clue about stuff, nature conspires to give you that perfect shot on camera.
I would call all this inspiration, in a sense, to keep going on. To keep at it. And above all, I think that such akaashvani tells you point-blank that you are an artist. Good or bad? Well, that’s subjective really. I believe that if you are conscious towards your art, you are good. I would be digressing if I go into details here.
What is this force, this power that clicks you towards genius? Is it an external power, a subconscious one or something naturally within? Art academicians, psychologists and others interested might answer this, but to practitioners one thing is evident, this thing keeps evolving. These moments of ecstasy increase as you live life; more plays in your profile, well read about something (one), worked with different people, seen more of this world and so on. But sometimes, for those tiny nanoseconds of your life, you stand aside this constant growth and just let it sink in. You get inspired, truly. You want to shout with joy. You are fanatic. You become a fan.
One such moment in my recent life was watching Satah Se Uthata Admi, a film by the great Mani Kaul. Oh, what cinema! Pure genius! It’s so difficult to take up a subject, dive right into it, manage to take the audience along with you, and still come out of it unscathed. No harm’s done. I mean, keeping the viewer distanced from the art is difficult in theatre itself, let alone a film. The film is about a Hindi writer, Muktibodh – I read some of his poems after watching the film, he wrote brilliantly. Being a biographical film, Satah is not your traditional docudrama. It is a fictional journey of a poet into his life, his friends’ life and a life that he imagines when engrossed in literature (his own and sometime Muktibodh’s). All these narratives are overlapping, no state remains isolated from the other. Reality of one segment is a reality of the other as well. There is no shying away from it. Some examples now –
A cup of tea kept at the bedside in the morning is left untouched. It appears again in another narrative, but this time inside a fridge, after all it must have gotten cold by now!
A tired looking Hindu teacher shares a casual walk back home with a maulvi inside an evidently Muslim colony. The next thing you see is the dawn of a new day with saffron clad young men on horseback entering the colony. And to make it just a tad celebratory (and ironic), there is a brass band playing (with no background sound! It is silent!) as the violence begins.
This and many more such ‘realities’ are brought in front of the characters in the film, Mani Kaul behind the camera and to an extent the viewer sitting in the auditorium, watching. This debate between reality and fantasy, practical and ideal, theory and practice…is the essence of this film. Should the artist go deeper within to create something or should he get inspired from the realities outside? I see that we are back to where we started. I guess some arguments are lifelong. Or maybe Mani Kaul understood it all, he knew the answer. I guess I will have to watch the film many more times to find out.
Trust me, you have to see it to get it. And you will get it. It’s a piece of cake, this film. The difficult part begins when you realize that this film is twisting your innards and making you think. And think. About things that are cruel, sad, happy, mundane.