To all of you who made “The Cemetery” possible!

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photo 2The first screening or rather a core team screening of the short film, “The Cemetery” was happily concluded at the residence of the veteran actor and my recent HERO, Mr. Barun Chanda today. A group of sublimely talented friends of mine who stood by my capricious dream in rain and thunder was there to watch the almost final version of the film. I would like to thank all those people who helped me in completing my maiden project, an experience that I will cherish for my entire life.

So, many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable. Probably this short film had a similar run of events! But it would have been really impossible to complete this project unless I was blessed with these people around me. This small post is dedicated to all of you who made, “The Cemetery” inevitable!

 

IMG_0213Barun Chanda: This charismatic, forever young man needs no introduction I guess. From Ray’s Seemabaddha, to the recent successful saga of the Lootera, he was and still is one of the most compelling actors of serious Indian cinema! In this short film project “The Cemetery”, he not only acted in one of the pivotal roles but also became the guardian of the film! It might have been my dream but he protected the dream with all his experience and wisdom as an actor, advisor, and narrator and most importantly as my friend! I owe you this film Sir!

DSC_0117Tanusree Chakraborty: “The Cemetery” is a film typically based on a character called Carole, a Christian widow who seeks emancipation from her past life. I never thought she would readily agree to play Carole; she proved me wrong. She helped me with her precious time (probably the most valuable thing for her) and patience with a relatively young and inexperienced film maker like me! There were instances of difference in opinion and lack of facilities that disturbed the spirit. I take the responsibility and can vouch for a better setup next time. However, she enriched the film with a really professional performance and I hope the end result will certainly give her a reason to smile!

ApratimDAApratim Ghoshal: For some unknown reason we ended up doing a project together, I never thought we will. It would have been completely impossible for me to find the means to go ahead and complete this project until Mr. Ghoshal came to the rescue. He backed me up with the all important fund considering my urge to do something new or probably some unseen enterprise. I would like to thank him from the bottom of my heart for all his support and encouragement. Let’s hope we can work together on bigger and better projects in the near future.

AnirbanDAAnirban Maity: Editing was another tough hurdle that kept me anxious throughout my shooting days. Insufficient funds and stringent shooting conditions prevented me to get enough for my editor to chew upon! The story was twisted and turned a number of times while the shooting progressed and honestly, I was pretty confused with the time line and the final product! Anirban Da, amid all his anxious Argentine adrenaline managed to exploit his poetic mind and nimble fingers to bless “The Cemetery”. He did something that cannot be acknowledged with mere words!

IMG_0033Abhrajit Sen: My D.O.P. and my associate director. You truly served the role of an uncle to the baby, I am a father to; and by virtue of which you also become my brother! Bro, you rocked throughout the film. With those heated argument sessions and with all the hectic schedules you are the one along with Siladitya who kept the frames tight and close to my heart. I would love to work with you again. We can probably work upon the huge room for improvement that is still left to fill in. Let’s explore!

DSC_0164 Ronee Roy: I was awestruck with his guitar playing when I first jammed with him way back in 2012. He still manages to amaze and excite me with his mesmerizing fingers on that instrument. Probably, guitar is an instrument for all and at the same time not for all. He justifies it with the background scores of “The Cemetery”. I am really lucky to have you as my colleague and happier to have you as my friend. Hope we can work together in future keeping your music and interest as the priority, Ronee da. I hope you know what I mean!

IMG_1125In the journey there were a number of other friends, colleagues, well wishers and completely unknown people who supplemented the experience. The vote of thanks would be incomplete without mentioning the toiling efforts of Siladitya Dam, the assistant cinematographer, Aditya Shankar Roy, one who documented the project with some brilliant stills, Ankita Majumdar, my student and my assistant, Ayan Nath (synthesizer player), Sonali Khan (Graphics and Design), Chitralekha Bannerjee, Arunavo Gupta, Tittu Philip, Nitin Panchamia, Kajal Mondal and may be some of you whom I am forgetting right now.

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A special vote of thanks should go to Mr. Rana Basu Thakur of JLT who took a respite from his immensely busy schedule to come over and complement a day with his camera and lenses. Without you, the project wouldn’t have taken the shape it has today!

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IMG_0256Last but not the least; I would like to thank the Creative Director of “The Cemetery”and my companion, Shreya Goswami, who stood by me through thick and thin. Thanks for being there!

 

To fulfill a dream amidst financial crunch and hurdles that evolved on an hourly basis, what acted as my immunity was my belief in the dream that an independent film is still possible with limited resources. I know The Cemetery was not as perfect as I thought it would be, but I will still cherish the journey throughout my life.

THANK YOU EVERYONE!

 

The plot of my first film – “The Cemetery”

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Photo Courtesy: Aditya Shankar Roy.

Carole, a charming young woman in her late twenties comes down to Calcutta to take in her new-found freedom after her husband suffers a sudden death. She refuses to find pleasure in the materialistic beauty of the city and seeks for peace and solace in the midst of the graves of the South Park Street Cemetery.

In a strange encounter amid the sleeping Englishmen of colonial India she is observed by a story seeker in some dramatic change of events. The story is a simple narrative depicting a timepiece of human behavior in solitude and distress. It is an example of my understanding of an attempted relationship that culminates with a subtle understanding of human feelings.

 

Film: The Cemetery.

Genre: Narrative Drama.

Running Time: 19 minutes.

Language: English.

Federico Fellini – “I always made the films I wanted to make”

fellini_federico_In a somber conversation with Anna Muzzarelli, Federico Fellini spoke about his love for caricature, popular film art and his perceptions about film making, neorealist cinema and more. The interview was taken few months before the demise of the great film maker and this excerpt is a part of the original interview published in the “Sight and Sound” magazine (4/93).

 

Anna Muzzarelli: In your list of films for the “Sight and Sound” top ten, you commented that you had selected ‘popular’ films; because that is the culture you belong to.

Federico Fellini: Cinema doesn’t belong only to the great directors; it has other participants who are equally emblematic. I can’t help but think of those films from the 20’s onwards that had as their primary symbol an actress or actor – in those days, cinema for me was the faces of actors. This company of faces that represented the cinema included Garbo, then Chaplin, or the two together – Garbo the sorceress, the Pythia, and Charlie the tramp, the young rebel, the two of them representing the most contrasting psychologies and desires. Then there was Stan and Ollie – how grateful we were for the carefree laughter with no purpose behind it, none of the emotional or ideological blackmail f Chaplin. And to conclude, there were Marx Brothers.

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Anna Muzzarelli: Tell us about your taste for caricature, the cartoon-like character that is so present in your work.

Federico Fellini: If Italy survived the gloom of bourgeois education under the twin castrating authorities – fascism and the Catholic Church – it was thanks to American Cinema. The later was great nourishment, it was another life. But even before their cinema, Americans had gained great popularity through their comic strips. An Italian magazine, the ‘Corriere dei Piccoli’, carried the work of these cartoonists – great artists not only in a graphic sense, but in a literary one as well, because American literature is represented not only by the works of Steinbeck or Faulkner, but by Jiggs and Maggie, Hans and Fritz Katzenjammer, characters who became very popular in Italy. They give us a feeling of gratitude towards America that helped us to bear the cultural blackmail of the times.

 Marcello Mastroianni in a scene from FEDERICO FELLINI'S 8 1/2, 1963.

 

Anna Muzzarelli: Was this what led you to become a cartoonist?

Federico Fellini: As a boy I used to spend hours trying to copy those drawings. I always had a tendency to scribble on any white surface – it’s a habit I maintained when I prepare a film, and since I don’t have cinema-technique memories of the great classics, a film that first appears to me through the sketches I make. These enable me to grasp a perspective, the spaces of a setting or the costumes, what face a character should have – indeed when I start to prepare a new film the first approach is graphic. It’s also a way of telling me that I’m working, that the whole shebang is on the rails. During my first years in Rome I also worked as a caricaturist to make ends meet; I would go into restaurants and cheekily ask if anyone wanted a caricature.

 

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Anna Muzzarelli: ‘8 ½’ – (Otto e Mezzo), is a product of expressive crisis; almost as if it was the only film you could make. What gave you the idea of making a film about making films?

Federico Fellini: For some time, I had in mind of making a portrait of a man in its many layers: his memories, fantasies, dreams, his everyday life, a character who as yet had no professional or personal identity (at the beginning it was not a film director). I wanted to recount the multi-dimensionality of a day, a conscious life unfolding like a spiral, without defining boundaries, abandoning any idea of plot in favour of a free narration, a chat. The idea was to restore the sense of a time where past, present and future, dreams, memories and desires were blended together.

But I didn’t know my character. I had thought of a writer, a lawyer, a journalist: I couldn’t make up my mind, everything was fading into nothing. Perhaps this was the great lesson on 8½: at some point I told myself, “get the engine started, get everybody onboard, somebody will provide, force other people to make you do something.” So I did. I started the construction of the set, put the actors under contract, and the film took off. In the beginning I didn’t have a script, only some notes, a scene or two written with Tullio Pinellii and Ennio Flaniano, and my inexhaustible, endless chattering about what I wanted to do. We started to build the scenery of the farmhouse, and after two months of intense work I realized that I didn’t know what I wanted. I would go everyday to the studios and spend all day in my office drawing, making calls, but the film was no longer there. I thought, “I’m a director who doesn’t remember what he wanted to do” and in that moment the film was made: “That’s what I do, the story of a director who doesn’t remember his own film.”

fellini_s-8-12-movie-posterA few days later the film laboratories went on strike. I shot for four months without ever seeing what I’ve done. When shooting was over, I spent three days in the projection room to see the work of four months; it was a historical undertaking, that of someone who shoots a film without knowing what he’s doing.

 

The film was born in a spirit of abandonment, of spontaneity, of trust and defiance, a fortunate film that was later so successful as to become a genre – alongside the Western and the detective film, there is the 8½ genre. If there’s a lesson I learnt from this experience it’s that everything that happens during the production of a film, be it contradictory, adverse, interruptions, strikes, can all become nourishment for the film.

 

 

Anna Muzzarelli: Would you say you have roots in neo-realism – and I’m thinking of your collaboration with Rossellini as a screenwriter for “Paisa” and “Roma citta apera”?

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Federico Fellini: Rossellini stands out from the rest of the so-called neo-realists for his eye, his intervention as a strong and compassionate witness who knew how to photograph the air around things and for his disregard of cinema a spectacle. I took part as a spectator in ‘Paisa’ and ‘Roma citta aperta’ and I may have learnt my way of approaching cinema from Rossellini, who worked in the most incredible confusion: expiring bills, romantic complications, conflicts and the war. I remember in Naples, during the shooting of ‘Paisa’, in the middle of the street with the allies’ tanks parading behind our backs, and there he was, with his beret and the megaphone: the casualness of a God who’s creating an earthquake only to be able to photograph it. This is the true lesson that neo-realism taught me.

 

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Anna Muzzarelli: ‘La dolce vita’ was an enormous success not just in Italy, but in Europe and the US. Did you think at the time that you were making films for an international audience?

Federico Fellini: No. I don’t think so – if I had planned my films in those terms how could I have made ‘Amarcord’? I believe that if one has a sincere, authentic and non speculative vocation to express oneself through painting, literature, music or cinema, one cannot have other concerns than those sincerity and expressiveness. I always made the films I wanted to make.

Eye Witness

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Another beautiful depiction of human emotions.. Eyes -witnessed by Steve’s eyes are mesmerizing and a treat for those longing hearts that wait for art and love of art forever…

Originally posted on Steve McCurry's Blog:

Eyes speak a universal language, and no
interpreter is needed

SAM_5899, Rajasthan, India, 2009, INDIA-11532India

Where words are restrained, the eyes often talk a great deal.
-Samuel Richardson

AFGHN-10242Kandahar

These eyes tell the stories of children around the world.
They speak of war, deprivation, and loss.

INDIA-11525India

There is a road from the eye to heart that does not go through the intellect.
- G. K. Chesterton

TIBET-10605NFTibet

Eyes are more accurate witnesses than ears.
- Heraclitus of Ephesus, 535 – c. 475 BCE

INDIA-11674India

BRAZIL-10059NFAdriana Lima, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 

From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive:
They sparkle still the right Promethean fire;
They are the books, the arts, the academes,
That show, contain and nourish all the world.
 William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost

ITALY-10409Actor, Italy

Almost nothing need be said when you have eyes.
 - Tarjei Vesaas, Norwegian Poet

PAKISTAN-10029NF3Afghan refugee, Peshawar, Pakistan

Could a greater miracle take place than…

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Belief and Life of Pi

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testing belief and wisdom…

Originally posted on The Bookshelf of Emily J.:

Life of Pi (2001) by Yann Martel, number 51 on the BBC book list, is one of my favorite books.  When I first read it several years ago, I began recommending it to everybody.  I even made my husband read it, and he’s generally not a reader.  It is just a great book, one that I think most anybody can enjoy.

It is about young Indian boy Pi, who is teased for his full name of Piscine.  He changes it to Pi to avoid bullying.  He’s also a thoughtful and spiritual boy, who begins searching for knowledge and truth.  He ends up becoming Hindu, Christian, and Muslim, seeing beauty and goodness in all of the religions.  His religious experiences are important to the overall theme of the novel.

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The middle section of the novel is about his family’s shipwreck in the Pacific Ocean.  The family owns a zoo…

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Ganesh Talkies – A Commercially parallel film!

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First impression: Anjan Dutt must be terribly pissed off with the recent trend in the industry that felicitates 100 Crore club members and he decided to make Ganesh Talkies. Well my second impression was logically reasoned and emotionally verified. Hope you will have a patient read…

Probably, this will be a critical appreciation of the movie – Ganesh Talkies. With all the speculations going on in the market and a huge section of the crowd trying to defend the veteran director, I would like to take a route upstream. It was June 24th, 2011 when his national award-winning movie, “Ranjana Ami ar Asbona” was released. Two years from then 21st June saw the release of Ganesh Talkies, a commercial film as proclaimed by the director himself.

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In a country, where film making is either business or art, the idea was to blend both of them and present something entertaining. A film not only dedicated to the class, but also for the mass. Ganesh Talkies, the recent motion picture by Anjan Dutt was a potboiler with many distinguishable characters that you can relate to. The story was simple, lucid and heartwarming for the young and the young-at-heart audience who would admire the actor, director, singer and song writer for all his credibility throughout the years. It gathered momentum from some wonderful performances by the actors and subtle skill from the director. A candid narration added some adequate flavor to the story telling and one has to admit that the film truly celebrated friendship and nostalgia like many other movies of Dutt. He had the courage to state some unsaid verses in his symbolic honest mannerism and you can easily find him and his ideologies in every scene of the movie. However, did Ganesh Talkies prove the quality and excitements that it created or did it surpass the expectation of the audiences far and wide?

Theory:  We are subjected to a very innovative style of cinema. A film where we have a typical hero and a heroine, however, the story is more about two people from two different strata of the society who were school friends and presently the parents of the protagonists. Now, how would you like the audience to react? A section of the crowd who wished to see some masala story with the major characters hardly got anything to take away and a section of the crowd, who inevitably watches a Dutt film found the item song unjust, untimely and extremely unpleasant to match with the nostalgia and the under-dog love story celebration. The screenplay lacked clarity at various points.

They say the market is a pyramid and to generate revenue you have to attack the base. So, our director did the same. However, with his intellect and perception of world cinema, he could not do away with the subtle features of film making that bagged him the much coveted national award. Here, he unknowingly disturbs the niche audience as well as the alluring new market.

Anti-Theory: We already have a dozen of directors in Bengal and may be hundreds of them in India who cannot think of a film without an item number. May be, they start writing the story after a catchy item number is finalized. Sincerely, the “jhal legeche” number was not bad at all, the depiction and use of the song shatters the entire gravity of the film, to be honest. Trusting the veteran film maker with his tastes and modernized approach, I felt that even the climax was too co-incidental. Raima Sen hardly had a screen presence and Chandan Roy Sanyal was seemingly uncomfortable in the first half of the film.

Even then, I won’t say the characters were excellent, but they were very real. However, it might be a choice for the audience to accept or argue.The alternate love story, the grey promoters in the city, the ageless friendship, selfless love and the captivating local goons fighting for power were equally emotional and hilarious from time to time. Anyone would rate Ganesh Talkies ahead of a lot of films released in recent times for coherent reasons.

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Story in a nutshell: Pashupati (Biswajit) and Pravin (Rajesh) are childhood friends. Pashupati is planning to marry off his daughter Saban (Raima) to an NRI. But Saban is secretly in love with Arjun (Chandan), Pravin’s son. What happens when both families come to know of their concealed romance? The parallel stories revolve around a lack-lusture single screen theatre named “Ganesh talkies” and some enterprising promoters trying to convert it into a multiplex. A cross -cultural love story with all ingredients to tickle the idiosyncratic relationship of bengalis and marwaris which remains the USP of Ganesh Talkies.

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Suggesting “Jhaal Legeche”

Music and the rest: Unlike other Anjan Dutt movies, music of Ganesh Talkies didn’t turn out to be a memorable record to cherish for a long time. Although, I keep humming the “Na Jaane milo ge Kahan” number now and then, the item song, was definitely an itching experience which persisted even after the “happy” ending of the film. The lyrics of the songs are appreciated by one and all. The camera movements and editing were average baring a few signature scenes that can only be seen in an Anjan Dutt movie. However, as announced by the director himself, it would be unjust to expect anything “extra” from Ganesh Talkies for the same reason that would restrict me to write something about Khoka 420.

To wrap up, Ganesh Talkies is a film that should not be quantified with success pertaining to numbers but hearts won and broken. If this was the maiden attempt of Dutt gambling a different genre of films which is sadly known as commercial cinema in India, I must congratulate the Anjan Dutt for his efforts. The unification of viable (read commercial) films and parallel film making was certainly difficult to achieve and the director, like always breaks off the shackles to deliver something for the audience to chew upon. For those who have seen the movie, I would expect a constructive debate and those who are yet to watch Ganesh Talkies, make sure you don’t miss the transformed Dutt.

A Note to the audience from the desk of mymotionpicture:  In India, creating, endorsing and selling something intellectually crisp and indigenous is becoming extremely difficult. As an audience, if you feel restless and frustrated with the decreasing quality of films, original music, plays etc, do have a look at the mirror and reason your choices when it comes to piracy, downloading, stupid south Indian remakes and everything that disturbs the culture and aesthetics of the city and the country. Look around and let the good film makers derive inspiration from deserving claps and proper recognition. It is truly an ominous sign if sensible film makers of our times tend to change their ways and succumb to shallow stories and superficial entertainment. May be a wake up call!

Life Breath of Half the World

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As the monsoons hit India, the drenched souls longed for something wet and serene. Steve gave me that much awaited peace of mind through all these wonderful photographs..
Truly spectacular!

Originally posted on Steve McCurry's Blog:

INDIA-10220 India

India’s  monsoon rains have covered the entire country a month ahead of schedule,
brightening the prospects for a
bumper output of summer-sown crops such as rice, oilseeds and
cotton in one of the world’s leading producers.

INDIA-10214-(1)Mumbai, India

INDIA-11087India

During the year I spent following the monsoon in a dozen countries, I learned to see it as a critically important event, 
and not the disaster it had first seemed to my Western eyes.

INDIA-11030Varanasi, India

For half the world’s people, good monsoon s  mean life and prosperity.
Bad monsoons mean famine and death.

INDIA-10301NF2India

Farmers experience the monsoon as an almost religious experience 
as they watch their fields come backto life after being parched for half the year. 

INDIA-10678-(1)India

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Burma

For months there is no rain, and then there is too much.
Half the world’s people survive at the whim of the monsoon.

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Bangladesh 

Rain is grace;
Rain is the sky descending…

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