Primarily, the articles on the completion of hundred years of Indian cinema reflected a collage of nostalgic incidents entwined with some bleak success stories of Indian cinema. The regional silver screens were predominantly under rated and commercial films that procured solid establishments in the hearts of the mass were glorified. I would like to site some unseen features of this huge industry and speak in favor of some of not so important parts of cinema.
Arranging a set where the actress leaves her attire before embracing her beloved; I know, no one cares about those candle lights that falls on the shoulders of the scantily dressed couples in the frame. They look alarmingly sensual. However, the sensual scenes or a romantic scene demands a lot of hard work as far as the composition is concerned. From the color of the walls to the positioning of that Monalisa painting on the wall, the director along with the supporting staffs spend a lot of time planning and making things that perfect. You may enjoy those drenched lips and their fading proximity, but that enjoyment insists the light man in the studio to re-create that ambiance every time the script demands for it. Well, it is not only about those cozy bed scenes that I will be talking about. I am interested to discuss all those scenes that require some special gambling of light and shadow.
Mis-en-scene is a French term that means the arrangement or framing a particular scene. The composition of a scene takes a number of things into account. The director controls over the things that appear prominently and not so prominently on the screen. The set designs, décor, props, costume, make-up are parts of the production design, whereas, cinematography includes lighting, camera position and movements. Acting by the characters in the frame is also a part of the mis-en-scene. From ancient times, Indian movies were typically upgraded versions of plays enacted on stages. Thus, the point of view of a director was mostly on the dialogue deliveries and the acting of the characters framed in the scene. However, with exposure to European movies and various film movements, the Indian cinema developed its own doctrine of mis-en-scene to depict the various visual metaphors. In my opinion, lighting does play a very important role in the composition. The intensity of light, direction and the quality have a profound effect on how an image is perceived. Light affects the way colors are rendered both in terms of hue and depth, and can focus attention on parts or elements in the scene according to its arrangement. So, now you might know why those glossy shoulder lines of your favorite Bollywood damsel shine!
In scenes where the protagonist exchanges some heated dialogues with his darker counterpart, you will notice a huge difference in the camera angles. How time, space and the chapter of the story determines the camera position speaks so much about film making. Say, the desperado of the movie is a massive man with lots of political and physical power; we tend to look at him from a low angle. They look greater and graver. Consequently, the hero is shot from a high angle or eye-line camera position. That makes him look so humanly and natural. These features of the cinematography are general practices. However, there are a number of examples where innovative ideas are implemented and the mis-en-scene is composed poetically to describe the identity of the scene. Another contrivance is the use of shallow depth of field. This one sets the attention primarily on the subject on which the director wants to focus on. Sometimes placed afar and sometimes nearer to the lens of the camera the use of depth of field helps a lot in the composition of the scene and the process of storytelling.
Imagine a scene from the films in the seventies or even earlier and the ones we watch now, some of the films from sensible film makers have developed by leaps and bounds and the ones that fall under the category of senseless movies have deteriorated like never before. Thus, it is quite imperative to underline the effects of these arrangements in the framing of a scene depicting love, empathy, anger, romance, grief or every other emotion on-screen. The film makers of the present industry are assisted by a number of trained technicians who offer their experience and practical wisdom in making those riveting scenes we enjoy every Friday! The mis-en-scene of Indian cinema will be incomplete without the contribution of all those names that scroll up after the movie. Your pop corns are exhausted, your cold drinks glasses are empty and you know who made the films. So, their names remain unnoticed. This article would rather demand a definite detailing of these people working behind the scenes. However, with the constraints of time and space, I would like to conclude with a huge thanks to the entire team of light man, cameraman, assistant directors, Foley artists, sound man and all those people who add so much life to those films. The films become that particular piece of art only because these people help in the mis-en-scene of the film.
Signing off from the desk of my-motion-picture till a heartfelt mis-en-scene captures that much-needed standing ovation…