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…

 

Advertisements

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.