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…

Advertisements

Hawa Badol – Expecting blooming friendship…

After a long while it feels great to occupy a cozy chair at one of those theaters in Kolkata and watch a Bengali feature film that will surely offer some food for thought. Oh! I forgot to mention that the second directorial venture of one of the most sensible cinematic professionals of Tollywood (Kolkata’s film industry popularly called As.), Parambrata Chatterjee’s “Hawa Badol” is set to hit the screens today (22nd March, 2013).

A story primarily speaking about bonds of friendship and childhood companionship have already been narrated so many times by so many film makers. However, this flick from ParamBrata is surely going to touch the hearts of care –free residents of this metropolitan city. The city bound hectic activities of a so called established expert and some unrecognized efforts of a creative guy super impose their truths and philosophies of life. They battle their differences and embrace their equalities to fabricate something that they longed for. What came in between then?

hawa-Badal

Hawa Badol, starring Rudranil Ghosh, Raima Sen, Neha Panda and the Director himself along with cameos from established actors from the industry will surely tickle your humor bones along with depicting some renewed crisis that the present generation faces every day. The bread and butter of this career centric generation do lack the time to stand and stare if I have to quote W.H.Davies, and apparently that differentiates success and happiness in the real world. The trailer of the movie along with the music tracks truly reminds me about some happier times and I hope the story does the same thing.

As far as the success of the Hawa Badol, the movie is concerned, I am personally very hopeful about the outcome of the movie. The best films produced last year had nothing in common apart from the fact that they had something innovative in them. Some stories that were never told or some known stories told in a way, like never before.

As I head towards the premier of the movie, I would like the audience to decipher this candid movie from the bottom of their heart that genuinely is a new generation flick celebrating friendship in an era of i-phones!

Signing off from the desk of mymotionpicture till I come back and rest a while after the intense Hawa Badol…

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?

Logically Disputing Stories – A tribute to Ritwik Ghatak!

Some said he was unstoppable!
Some said he was unstoppable!
Reflecting on an Indian postal stamp!
Reflecting on an Indian postal stamp!

     An accolade or a tribute to the great film maker and one of the pioneers of Indian parallel cinema, Mr. Ritwik Ghatak seems like a forced act to me right now. I do not know, for how many nights he stayed awake and for how many days he starved out of frustration, although I know how his works gives me a vision. I know how terrible my future will be if I do not take lessons from him. Very irrelevant at this point! However, I urge for a patient read…

Born to a family with poets and play-writers around him, Ghatak grew up watching the sufferings of common men as they migrated to the newer Bengal. His cinemas based on the city outskirts like “Meghe Dhaka Tara” or “Subararekha” spoke a lot about the refugees and the ill-treatment they received from their own realm mates after our country got the so-called independence. The decision of Ghatak, being a part of the film making fraternity was quite indispensable as far as his growing up and his education was concerned.

Ritwik Ghatak -Logically disputing stories!
Ritwik Ghatak -Logically disputing stories!
Ritwik Ghatak - Nagarik
Ritwik Ghatak – Nagarik

From “Nagarik” (1952) to his last film “Jukti Tokko Goppo” (1974), Ghatak was more of a social commentator who believed in the aesthetic feature of film making. In one of his quotes he said, “Film making is not a form of art, it has forms.” He was more inspired by the sufferings of innocent souls and he wanted to portray life with his films. He celebrated grief like no one in this world. His works as a script writer, director, producer, actor, singer and film author would always metaphorically describe some of the major concerns of our plagued society. Sadly, we still live with some of those social evils and pathetically we inculcated each and every habit to live with them proving our logical abilities. This article is going wayward, I know. However, the kinds of message conveyed by Ghatak during his life time were hardly reciprocated. So, let us fasten our thoughts to cinema and pay him a tribute for his outstanding contribution to Indian cinema.

Satyajit Ray once said, “For him, Hollywood might not have existed at all” I would still wonder, what exactly the thought was that made him say so. Often while watching a Ghatak movie, I would relate some of my emotions and self-speak, “time basically is so CONSTANT…” The untimely demise of the great man deprived us from better analytics on film making and true characterization. His films hardly had typical Heroes or lead roles. One of his pupils commented, “The heroes and heroines of Ritwik’s films, while their energies are sapped by a society which can sustain no growth, have inner resources that seem to assert themselves. […] He was extremely disenchanted with those of his colleagues who wanted to maintain a false unity and was not, implicitly, pained enough by the splintering of every form of social and cultural values and movement. It is these factors that make Ritwik’s films a vitally generative force for the young. He does not hide behind a medieval or a dead past or a decorative Indianess…Very few of his contemporaries have avoided these pitfalls whether they work in the cinema and the other arts, or in the theoretical and cultural sphere. It is as if they were ashamed of being themselves, today, with their true history.

Poster of Ajantrik...
Poster of Ajantrik…

I have always believed that any form of art has two paths for a potential learner or a practitioner, either you follow history or you define your own path. Ghatak was the pioneer of establishing the thought that film making was his signature language. He interpreted a screenplay with “never seen before” treatments and wished to introduce some new-fangled means to capture motion picture. His efforts in introducing a different and distorted musical forms as background scores, and his experimental form of cinema does hardly reflect in any commercial film maker’s work in times after Ghatak. The parallel or alternate cinema movement in India experienced the trio-preamble of Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak as they lead from the front. As described earlier in my blog, Indian film is growing towards debris of senseless Indian cinema apart from a few silver linings behind the black clouds of commercialization, 100 crore clubs and box office illusions!

A still from Meghe Dhaka Tara.
A still from Meghe Dhaka Tara.
The man with the camera that spoke about life.
The man with the camera that spoke about life.

The Indian film Industry was always synonymous to the films produced in Bombay (now Mumbai) and the regional industries were fatigued with similar theater portrayals and poor commercial cinemas with melodramatic stories and baseless song sequences. The trio Ghatak, Sen and Ray gave Indians something more to chew upon. The films made by these film makers are still acclaimed as text materials for film students and even their millionth view have some special delicacies for your mind. However, their efforts and plea to our countrymen are distant echoes. Ghatak died before puking blood for many months! I believe, it was not alcohol and its consequences but the disillusion brought into his life due to the unfathomable pain of being this ill-treated visionary of this country.

Bengal was and is always ahead of the country whenever a discussion on films and other forms of art commence and audiences in Bengal get respect as authors and speakers deliver something that meaningful which hardly gets a resonance in any other part of the country. This is where we are and we are here because Ghatak and his contemporary film makers gave us that recognition! Although an afterthought, a tribute to Ray and a tribute to Mrinal Sen were nothing but an image of what I want to convey here in this homage article to one of the most incredible film makers of this country. My article could hardly reflect his enormous contribution towards Indian cinema, so, for something more meaningful that actually depicts his work I would like you all to go through this.

Signing of from the desk of mymotionpicture till i find some more logically disputing stories to chew upon…

 

We all want to stay in Hogwarts but are we all Harry Potter(s)?

Observation, Hypothesis, Experiment, Analysis, Conclusion; since the 17th century, the methodical way has been the generally accepted way to explore, discover, and acquire new knowledge. The actual process of intellectual discovery, however, is rarely so simple or objective. The human mind often leaps from statement to conclusion with ease, and rushes impetuous into hypothesis. The same is happening with the Indian cinema and eventually hampering the Indian audiences.

Experiment, Analysis, Conclusion...
Experiment, Analysis, Conclusion…
Observation, Hypothesis, Experiment...
Observation, Hypothesis, Experiment…

Again, remember—you are the best judge! There are no right or wrong answers. Just thoughtful ones!! Anything catch your fancy? It can’t be true. Everything needs to be very much logical even not much clear on the conscious level. Cinema is far beyond the silence camera and action. It is the life portrayed through the eyes of a very intellectual man who, again, has started from the basis laws of science- Observation, Hypothesis, Experiment, Analysis, and Conclusion. The difference lies in perception.

There is a very smart saying the enemy of art is the absence of limitations. Let us not make this statement into a verbatim. The world has lot to see and why not we start being the leaders. Cinema does not fabricate heroes, it depicts lives. We all wish to be in Hogwarts and for that we do not need to be a Harry Potter!!!

Candidly put into words by: Shreya Goswami – Guest author @mymotionpicture!

Shreya also wrote about Santa this Christmas!

How I perceived Calcutta 71 – A tribute to Mrinal Sen!

Beginning of an era! - Mrinal Sen in his early 20's.
Beginning of an era! – Mrinal Sen in his early 20’s.

A young man completes his degree in Physics from Scottish Church College, Calcutta and then becomes a journalist. Political backdrops and unseen personal clashes drive him out of the city and compel him to be a medical representative and medicine seller in an unknown land. He comes back to his city to take up a job of a sound technician in Calcutta and then the story begins. The journey through which Mr. Mrinal Sen took us, the film lovers of India, instigated and regularly echoed his struggles and frustrations about the fake and senseless culture of Indian cinema.

A still from the movie Mrigaya (1976)
A still from the movie Mrigaya (1976)
Sound - Camera- Action!
Sound – Camera- Action!

He believed in the art and realized its mass appeal. He wanted to tell stories in a different way. He tried to cause worries and also supplied means to tackle them. India has wasted many years after his efforts were fizzing off. He is 90 years old now and his dreams are still dreams in terms of implementation and honesty in the approach which beautified his films. The entire film fraternity saw three dominating film makers at that point as Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen complemented each other with their strong story line and candid cinematography.

A still from a Mrinal Sen's film.
A still from a Mrinal Sen’s film.
A still from Khandahar.
A still from Khandahar.

I personally believe that a even simple story can reach the hearts and minds of the audience with sheer brilliance of effective story telling technique. Mrinal Sen colonized this idea and he had this in-born talent of insightful story telling. With technicians and machines that are obsolete and out of practice in the modern film industry, he made some of the best films that Indians ever experienced.

Mrinal Sen, disillusioned by the inflexible and unjust rules of the world and specially his country had the guts to comment on some of the most sensitive issues of the 60’s, 70, and 80’s. His films in the 90’s and one in 2002 also had a social commentary to ensure food for his thoughts. He was a rebel as far as film making is concerned. The film industry broke some of the traditional shackles as he introduced his formula of new age films.

As he watches the proceedings...
As he watches the proceedings…

Sen’s works were inspired by a lot of unseen people and associations. His love for theater and drama might be the primary cause for shifting his interest from physics to films. Similarly, his respect for the doctrines of Karl Marx made him direct the Kolkata trilogy in the early 70’s. Interview (1971), Calcutta 71 (1972) and Padatik (The Guerilla Fighter, 1973) speaks about romantic and idiosyncratic Bengalis who fought for civil independence in their own land. He depicted emotions of a large section of our society who are deprived every day.  The Naxalite movement was enclosed and celebrated with correct mindset and apt verbiage.

Poster
Poster
A still from Calcutta 71
A still from Calcutta 71

Humor was also an integral part of Mrinal Sen’s films and classy humor should be the term to define his witty depiction of scenes. He used visual metaphors and efficient ironical dialogues to establish his thoughts. He commented on a number of political events of that time and also displayed the pains and anguish of his hapless inmates due to the reckless and selfish political system of our country. From being a petty medical representative to be a film maker respected by the entire nation, Mrinal Sen’s journey witnessed 27 feature films, 14 short films and 5 documentaries.

My motion picture pays a humble tribute to Mrinal Sen for his lifetime achievements and efforts. He was a visionary who tried his best to reform the film industry, to enhance the creativity and film art, to negotiate unprofessionalism and establish honest intellectual approach towards films. His efforts didn’t go in vain but lacked proper support as sluggish film makers found means to promote their ideas about senseless cinemas and its profit quotients. The affluent educated society of the country still believes what Sen, Ray and Ghatak wanted to portray in their films, writings and interviews. However, the system has lost the zeal to implement new ideas.

Ghatak
Ghatak
Ray
Ray
Sen
Sen

The critics will be shouting and filthy business policies will be flourishing. Time goes by and Indian film industry including the regional film industries are still satisfied with box office returns. Film business schemes murders film art on a regular basis and deceive the illiterate common mass by showing rain scenes on the road, half-clad women in item numbers and sensual scenes of extra marital affairs.

As desperation and frustration creeps in my mind while I finish my reverence article for one of the pioneers of Real Indian movies, Mr. Mrinal Sen, someone tells me “Dabang 2” becomes a 100 crore member! (*sighs)

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!