Mise-en-scène of Indian Cinema…

India's recent entry to the Oscars...
India’s recent entry to the Oscars…

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.

mis-en-scene6 mis-en-scene5

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-scene7 mis-en-scene8

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!

mis-en-scene3

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.

mis-en-scene10

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.

mis-en-scene11 LIFE OF PI

Signing off from the desk of my-motion-picture till a heartfelt mis-en-scene captures that much-needed standing ovation…

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Film criticism – Expecting more insight in film making…

In an attempt to describe and rate movies, the basic ethnicity of human instincts gets deceived very spontaneously. A film get released, hits the theaters, welcomed or rejected by audiences and then people speak about its success or failure stories. The entire routine of film making is more than what is described by the film critics in India. I wouldn’t have hesitated to name a few of them; however, a sense of gratification encapsulates my latent wishes. I am not writing this to criticize film critics in India, rather to reform the whole practice of film criticism in India. In one of my other articles in my-motion-picture, I voiced my opinion about development of authentic motion picture criticism in India and here I would like to speak some basic things about a proper film criticism. An expert observation and a comprehensive perception of the entire film should be the words of the film critic who happens to earn his living through these appraisals and excerpts.

I got filmed!
I got filmed!

If Pather Panchali marked an era in Indian film industry where potential contenders are recognized worldwide, the director of the film, Satyajit Ray should be accountable for his contribution towards the development of the film industry. Be it the Mumbai industry (Bollywood) or the prominent regional film industries in India. In one of his writings, Ray spoke about the dicey reviews and unprofessional approach of the film critics not only in India but also a few hailing from some developed countries of the world. In his words, “Since film critics repeatedly said that Pather Panchali was my best film, it naturally evoked a question in my mind; hasn’t the effect of criticism been beneficial to my art?

Long times; many a springs and autumns are wasted. We are living in 2013 and still film criticism in India is merely a profession where the so called intellectuals draw money for describing box office reports and how an item number is so high on the list of a commercial radio channel chart-buster! Pity… In terms of a promising criticism, a genuine film critic should ideally be a bridge between the film maker and the audiences. Some of the films made might not be ideal for the audiences of a particular region. Or, an adaptation from a novel might require some basic changes which should be readily accessible and reasonable to a film critic. However, the critics I read are mostly after the directors if a film fails to appeal in the first week. Similarly they praise some senseless cinemas which might see some bright opening due to the presence of a super star. I would echo Ray again and would like to request these film reviewers to drop their pens and rather establish their identity as someone from the crowd.

A film critic should have the knowledge and insight of the entire process of film making from scripting to editing. He should be clear with his sentences and descriptions which will enlighten the audiences about the pros and cons of a movie. I personally believe that a film maker or director hardly needs to know anything more about his own film. He knows where his movie excelled and what the limitations were. He, as a director has anchored the entire team to produce something that he would expect audience to relate to. In this scenario, if a critic cannot substantiate his words and describe the merits and demerits of the film, it is surely going to irritate the director. A critic, as I already mentioned, should recognize that a film is not a personal creation rather a joint venture. He should understand that a bad movie is not entirely the result of poor direction; a blockbuster is similarly a collective effort where the director should get a major share of the praise.

Black reels hurting arty Indians.The problem does not evoke a sense of emergency among the readers of this article. Accepted! But, as an audience you should also accept your money going wayward. You tend to believe reports from people who hardly connect with the art of film making. Bribes and personal endorsement from the producers ensure the box office results and then after those cold and rough three hours you have a tendency to accept the bleak prospects of a mindless film. A good movie fails to reach more audiences due to the similar reasons. How will the audience assess a movie when the preacher speaks ill of it without knowing the basic aesthetics of film making.

In this entire course of the article, I wanted to encourage new-age film students to come in front and take up the onus of describing films and its deeper implications. Film is a form of art that requires the collective effort of other artists and thus as a critic you should have the understanding of each of those sections, at least the basics. Satyajit Ray’s famous quote on his decision of making music for his films, “Ever since Two Daughters I’ve been composing my own music.” speaks vividly about the importance of a basic aptitude in all the forms of art that constitute a movie.

Motion pictures or films are almost like daughters to a director. They are nourished, fed, molded, reformed and corrected for so many reasons to be that piece of art. The art that causes tears and laughter in the theaters, that creation which demands claps and praises from the audiences and that piece of commerce which will fetch trust and money for the producer who believed in the concept of the film.  So, let film criticism evolve as an art in itself and not a duping profession that manages to draw a salary out of some dead words.

Signing off from the desk of my-motion-picture till critics rises with a new sun as the key-light of scenes and cinemas in India…

 

Zila Gaziabad defines “Senseless Indian films”!

I come back to my signature topic, “senseless Indian films” once again after punishing my brain and mind with a so called motion picture named Zila Gaziabad! Believe me folks, I don’t care if I misspell the name of the director or the producer or anyone associated with the movie. Spending an odd 20-30 crore on a movie that is so poorly made is a sheer loss of resources in a country where people seek quality entertainment after their everyday challenges!

Poster of Zila Gaziabad
Poster of Zila Gaziabad

I don’t know what actually inspires this idiotic bunch of people and I don’t know what gives them enough courage to make something so shallow and demeaning in the name of a movie! I won’t discuss the plot, neither will I speak about what went wrong as there was nothing to describe apart from flashy south Indian action and some skinny item numbers in the movie!

“Commercial cinema” is the misused term that destroys all the efforts made by sincere directors and film makers of this country. The definition of commercial cinema is so badly depicted that the entire class of cinema is getting affected. The adverse effect of films like Zila Gaziabad can be witnessed on the box office readings as well. People will still have the courage of making another movie or a masala movie like this in the near future, I am sure! However, the story actually demanded a lot of drama and polished action sequences that took Gangs of Wasseypur to a different level. Let them call these movies as commercial ones, I will still call them as senseless Indian cinema! Read about the top five Hindi movies of 2012! Aren’t they commercial? Ask the happy producers!

Item numbers are such crowd pullers! (calculated Pun)
Item numbers are such crowd pullers! (calculated Pun)

I wonder how, the producer convinced actors like Sanjay Dutt, Arshad Warsi, Asutosh Rana to do a movie that has such a weak screenplay! A movie with almost no depth in its script and no storyline whatsoever! It is proved time and again that movies like this end up in the losing side. However, a muscle man (read Salman Khan) is still convincingly handsome in his heroic mannerisms and still minting gold out of these so called commercial movies! I don’t know if he is doing something good to the Indian economy, but I firmly believe that his movies and his way of portraying himself in the movies should be self-reviewed!

Is he amused? Or is there anything wrong with his reasoning capabilities? If a doctor reads this, please prescribe a pill for these poor fellows and I will wish them, “Get well soon”! (*grins)

The music, the direction, the casting, the dialogues, the cinematography, the story demands a null out of anything you wish to score this film on! Although, we can give a round of applause to the action director for creating those international moves on Indian silver screen, Period!

My Rating: 2/10.

Signing off from the desk of mymotionpicture as it collapses in laughter after experiencing something as hilarious as Tom and Jerry (read Zila Gaziabad). Waiting for its premier in POGO very soon! What is wrong with Indian Cinema?

Top five Hindi movies of 2012

As the entire country celebrated 100 years of Indian Cinema, I joined the party on my discretion and I am happy to figure out some exceptional qualities reflecting lately in Indie movies. The fact that there will be senseless movies in India and “keep your minds at home” comedies is almost accepted country wide. However, the number of quality films produced in India does show a formidable change in trend. Nonetheless the change is positive as well.

Are we missing the rain dances then? Or should we watch more Kahaani-s (real stories) to ensure the establishment of superior motion picture activities in our country, known for its rich cultural values.

I would like to share the top five Bollywood movies according to my perception and the basic reasons why these endeavors should be highlighted. The director of an exceptional movie does play an important role in bringing out life from a story. My list of top five Hindi movies -2012 reflects movies that did justice to the art of film making.

  1. Kahaani
Parambrata and Vidya Balan in Kahaani
Parambrata and Vidya Balan in Kahaani

Genre: Thriller.

Released on: 9th March, 2012.

Writer-Director Sujoy Ghosh took the entire country by surprise along with a handful of Bengali theater actors and one Vidya Balan at the very beginning of the last year. The promising story and an uncanny ending marked the establishment of a new age thriller movie where the audiences were left awe-struck. Nawazuddin Siddiqui (as Khan), Parambrata Chatterjee (as Satyaki/Rana), Saswata Chatterjee (as Bob Biswas) and Vidya Bagchi (deliberately as Vidya Balan) took the story to a different level. Sincerely waiting for Kahaani-2.

USP: Kolkata, Durga puja, Vidya Balan and Bob Biswas!

  1. Vicky Donor
Ayushmaan and Yami in Vicky Donor!
Ayushmaan and Yami in Vicky Donor!

Genre: Comedy/Romance

Released on: 20th April, 2012.

Director Shoojit Sircar made this film with sleepless nights with the fear of rejection as first-time Producer John Abrahim backed him up with muscular enthusiasm. However, the youth section of the society welcomed this fresh story with open hands. The story of a man who serves the society by donating sperms is not on air very often! Ayushmann Khurrana’s chemistry with the doctor Anu Kapoor and his love interest Yami Gupta tickles the right emotions at the right time. The freshness of the story and the approach of the film maker along with the music and crisp dialogues make Vicky Donor worth watching!

USP: Ayushmann Khurrana-the Singer, Anu Kapoor and the music!

  1. Gangs of Wasseypur
A still from the movie...
A still from the movie…

Genre: Action/Crime

Released on: 2nd August 2012.

The story set in the remote village of Wasseypur stands out from most of the action crime thrillers of the year and earned compliments from even the best of film critics of the country. The director, Anurag Kashyap with his candid story telling talent and actors like Manoj Bajpayee, Richa Chadda and Nawazuddin Siddiqui turned the dice to convert a good cinema into an exceptional piece of film art! Dialogues with rural accent mixed with unmatched cameos from the actor uplifted the story of a gang to an entirely different level.

USP: Manoj Bajpayee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Cinematography.

  1. Barfi
Ranbir in a still from the movie
Ranbir in a still from the movie

Genre: Drama/ Comedy.

Released on: 14th September.

What adjective would best describe a movie like Barfi? I have no idea! Anurag Basu sewed the movie with pearls from his heart and strings from his brain to an utmost level where perfection was not very far. Ranbir Kapoor doing is Chaplin tribute role, Priyanka Chopra (as Jhilmil) acting as an autistic girl and Ileana D’Cruz (as Shruti) portraying a Bong housewife excelled. All the characters were perfectly placed and the movie also saw the last act from veteran actor Haradhan Bannerjee (as Daju). Barfi certainly celebrated love and life and rightly represented India in the Oscars! Or did we have better movies?

USP: Music by Pritam, Acting by Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Anurag’s visual metaphors!

  1. Talaash
Amir and Kareena in a still from Talaash!
Amir and Kareena in a still from Talaash!

Genre: Mystery Thriller

Released on: 30th November.

Reema Kagti’s Talaash is a genuine mystery thriller that took me by surprise. There were instances that still make me feel how good a movie Talaash was. The more than one time watch of the movie also divulged some of the social commentary that the director conveyed in this movie. Amir Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Rani Mukherjee were spectacular in this movie as were the other actors including Nawazuddin Siddiqui (as Tehmur). The crisp dialogues, mesmerizing music and astonishing cinematography certainly help the standard of the movie. The stand out performance of the entire team to create something so uncanny yet so real made me enlist Talaash over a few other movies!

USP: Kareena Kapoor, Amir Khan, opening (montage) of the movie with the song, “Muskaan Jhooti Hai”.

Epilogue:

I enjoyed the last year as some quality movies like Shanghai, Paan Singh Tomar, Chittagong and English Vinglish hit the theaters helping audiences to munch upon something better than over-priced pop corns and obesity catalyzing cold drinks! Although these movies never did business as lucrative as Khiladi 786, Housefull 2 or like any of those typical masala movies, they made an honest effort to uplift the stinking standard of Indian mainstream movies where commercialization is nothing but an excuse to make mindless films! Now do we understand what is still wrong with Indian Cinema?

Signing off from the desk of my-motion-picture till a quality picture gets resonating reflection!

P.S: Links are useful read, go to the top and follow the relevant ones if you wish!

 

What is still wrong with Indian Cinema???

In a 1948 article entitled, “What is Wrong with Indian Films,” Ray criticized India’s movement away from art and towards either musicals or heavy mysticism:
The raw material of the cinema is life itself. It is incredible that a country which has inspired so much painting and music and poetry should fail to move the movie maker. He has only to keep his eyes open, and his ears. Let him do so.

The "Ray" of hope for Indian Cinema!
The “Ray” of hope for Indian Cinema!

After thousands of years of cultural ecstasy any individual will tend to believe that cinema, rather Indian cinema would reflect something of a corresponding breadth and depth. Unfortunately, in India, quite the contrary is true, especially after the explosion of trade affairs associated with the art of film making and a development of entertainment industry known as “Bollywood”. It is quite evident that the low tastes of people are governed by the media and their perspectives in terms of box-office collections. However, is this really a reflective excuse to go completely brain-dead? It’s like a plague of spiritual dullness that is inculcated in our minds. And the effort was quite deliberate to keep the common man under control.

Even after 64 years of that article of which the extract mentioned above is a part; Indian cinema is still an amateur form of art that never gets proper recognition and decree in terms of international standards. What is still wrong with Indian cinema? It is so sad to re-visit Ray’s ideas and still mention that Indian movies are on the same creative line and the development was merely technological curbing the quality of intellect in Indian movies. Barring a few personal efforts the entire scenario of film making is still dependent on baseless stories and dance sequences with 50 odd people dressed up in the same attire, dancing with the same steps. FCUK.. How pathetic!

What is still wrong in Indian Cinema?
What is still wrong in Indian Cinema?

However, the great Japanese author Akira Kurosowa once remarked, “Not to have seen the cinema of Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon.

Two Great Film Director Satyajit Ray and Akira Kurosawa at the 1982 Venice Film Festival in Italy!
Two Great Film Director Satyajit Ray and Akira Kurosawa at the 1982 Venice Film Festival in Italy!

Even though Ray’s film was shot in B&W and in circumstances that were as impoverished as the world being portrayed in the film, the poetic concurrence of man to nature has hardly ever been done in a better way. There is actually very little plot to speak of, reminding one more of the improvised naturalness of De Sica’s Bicycle Thief than anything that had come before in Indian Cinema. The image and the sound are the real protagonists in this work of art. Once seen, who can ever forget those insects skitting along the surface of a pond, while the thrillingly precise accompaniment provided by the legendary Ravi Shankar finds just the right pulse of nature! Or Apu and Durga’s walk through a field of tall, white, willowy reeds as they discover a train outside their village. Or Durga’s ritual dance during the first monsoon rain. Or the terrifying night as the storm rips apart Durga’s room as she lies dying. Or the long-absent father’s approach to the crumbling house, the fallen Mango tree branch and the lone chewing cow. Each one of these images has infinitely more weight than the infinite factory of images supplied by Bollywood and most other cinemas of the country.

A still from Pather panchali - Satyajit Ray.
A still from Pather panchali – Satyajit Ray.
A still from Bicycle Thief!
A still from Bicycle Thief!

In addition, upon seeing DeSica’s The Bicycle Thief, Ray wrote in a 1951 essay, “The present blind worship of technique emphasizes the poverty of genuine inspiration among our directors,” Ray continued. “For a popular medium, the best kind of inspiration should derive from life and have its roots in it. No amount of technical polish can make up for artificiality of theme and dishonesty of treatment. The filmmaker must turn to life, to reality.” Mr. Ray also had the eye of a cinema poet and discovered an abundance of poetry in the reality of his mise-en-scene. Poetic justice was manifested with accurate camera angles and some pitch perfect vision. As if he could see the scenes he described on the script and could foresee them as a piece of art when they will reflect on a screen.

Quality suffers as quantity increases!
Quality suffers as quantity increases!

This article is not to assert the black sides of business quotients of the industry or to hamper the need of trade and economy but to lend a vision to all the upcoming film makers of this country. This is the time to make a mark and bring a change to the outlook of this profession. It is truly one of the most creative professions of the world and requires the creative efforts of many. So, why should we compromise the quality of the content of this form of art? Throughout the millennium, man has tried to enforce a standard of living that imitates a class just above their class. This has resulted in the death of real art and given senseless films a chance to make a mark on the box office and survive as a form of popular entertainment.

With due respect to all the film makers who sought inspiration from lives and made real life movies that depicted stories which connect to human emotions and expressions, Ray was perhaps the pioneer of cinema’s that had a vision.

A humble request to all who read this article: If you connect to my thoughts, propagate! Issued in public interest who love the art of film making or Cinema as a whole!

Looking back: “Development of authentic motion-picture criticism in India!

 

Boycott senseless and effing cinemas in India! The Society bleeds heavily…

India is a land of tradition and culture. It accommodates religions of so vivid theories and beliefs. That brings to my mind a thought that Indians do have a taste of art and literature. Religion, I believe is best described with art and culture. The religious books, doctrines, shrines, temples, mosques, churches, stories, fables, hymns, carols and everything that actually describe each of the religion are nothing but a masterpiece of art. The artists who created each of those creations were religiously in favor of their religion and preached love for god and humanity.

Two film critics in an auditorium in Europe. an old picture!

If that is true, Indians should inherit the taste for art and culture in terms of songs, films, plays or any other forms of creative art that goes live for the audiences residing in the country. I am not speaking about preaching religion, I am voicing for creating sensible art.

If my readers are yet to understand my indication, I am speaking about the endless reels wasted in the name of commercial cinema. In a country where 75% of the people still fight for basics and more than 60% of the people hardly get to know what cinema or films are, the film makers of every genre do have a social responsibility of utilizing the money they get from their producers for the sake of betterment of the art.

The films made in Mumbai, South India and Kolkata (exceptions exist everywhere) depicts a very sad picture as far as good film making is concerned. The producers, directors, writers and everyone involved in films like “Khiladi 786 ” and the likes hardly care about making something that relates real world and the problems in the real society. I named one film as I can’t remember the names of other movies of this genre which people say “entertainment/ commercial”.

Black reels hurting arty Indians.
Was Barfi a non-commercial movie? Or Gangs of Wasseypur? Or films like “Chittagong”, “3 Idiots”, “Kahani” never made money? I feel movies like these serve all the purposes including raising funds for the makers.
The point is why waste money in making something so cheap and so demeaning in terms of art. And why do we still go to the theaters to watch something so trash as far as creativity is concerned. The love for cinema, the love for the art and an urge to make good cinema is all that is required and the rest can be digested. However, the recent facts and figures show us a sad picture of the nation with some silver linings.
India never had a film movement and that has really affected the entire nation’s perception of film watching and film making. I strongly feel, that people like us who prefer quality cinema over these wasted fund reels should raise our voice and ensure that the crowd resonate our call to stop this irresponsible profession and the people who profess it.

The word 'Cut', used more often by politicians than film makers!
I have already boycotted senseless movies and to those who make them I would say, “Even debt collectors make money. Stop being a pimp and respect the art you thought you will profess. If you can’t look at the sky and spit on the air, you will know gravity.”

Period.