Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Court: The Judge gets Adjudged now…

Sooner or later while viewing Chaitanya Tamhane's film Court, I really began to snicker quietly with delight. This could be seen as to some degree unreasonable, for the topics and the film's narrative are definitely not glad, and the world it makes, or rather, portrays with exactness, is a terrible bad dream and one completely meriting the oft abused mark, Kafkaesque. My euphoria, then, originated from the acknowledgment that one was watching a really excellent work of silver screen, unassuming film-production that was in the meantime created with incomparable creativity, a furiously moderate work that was, in any case, savagely holding. The delight and incredulity were further opened up by the way that this staggering wealth and quality fit in with a contemporary Indian film - a joy too once in awhile conceded to us localised cinephiles. To put that in an unexpected way - and to add to it - this amazing measure of joy additionally came to fruition in light of the fact that this felt like a quintessentially Indian film, depicting a regularly Indian the truth; it isn't so much that some comparable story couldn't unravel in Nigeria or Mexico, just not this precise story; it isn't so much that the film doesn't owe complex obligations to extraordinary movie producers from Iran to Taiwan, it's that it pays off those bligations while taking legitimate ownership of a blend that is at last extremely unique.


The story's notes are laid out rapidly, similar to an alaap from some gharana that manages clarity and effortlessness toward the start of a raga. Narayan Kamble, a Dalit people artist in his mid-60s, shows poor youngsters in the ghettos of Bombay and sings political verse at Dalit and common laborers gatherings and parades. Kamble (played by Vira Sathidar, a lobbyist, in actuality) is captured while in front of an audience at one such execution. The charge is that he has abetted the suicide of a sewage-cleaner on the grounds that in one of his melodies he obviously admonished the cleaners, singing that the best way to flexibility was for them to execute themselves. As indicated by the police and arraignment, a sewerage laborer was seen going to one of Kamble's exhibitions a day prior to he was discovered dead inside a sewer, probably a suicide, consequently making Kamble straightforwardly in charge of the man's passing. The story spine of the film is the arrangement of sessions court hearings around this case. The primary characters in the film are Kamble, his barrier ttorney, Vinay Vora (Vivek Gomber), general society prosecutor Nutan (surname indistinct; played by Geetanjali Kulkarni) and the judge, Sadavarte (Pradeep Joshi).

The thing you scarcely see about the film (till you do) is that it trips unendingly between various types of Marathi, diverse registers of Hindi and English, and (one and only sort of) Gujarati, precisely as you may experience over a day in Bombay. In the realistic expressions, sub-titling has long been the stride little girl's stride girl, however here it is a minor triumph, presenting to us the weave of all the Bombay patois, all its lawful and classist and casteist language spare what is talked in English. In an exceptionally deft, downplayed way these bunches of dialect are raised in the scenes themselves - does the English-communicating in Gujarati legal advisor comprehend what a witness is stating in Marathi? Does the extremist writer incline toward the procedures to be in Hindi or Marathi? How well does the dead cleaner's wife communicate in Hindi, she, who, at a certain point, appears to be stripped of all dialect and explanation?


This, be that as it may, comes later. Where the film sets up its qualifications is the first scene in the to start with, confused, sessions court. The foul divider behind the judges with two little photos of incredible men of the past, the seat's layer and assistants, the feeble canal of the wooden railing, the filthy chestnut podiums, as though there always, and, at them, supporters supplanting each other as frivolous cases are rearranged through the thick aspic of jurisprudical
boredom. With an 'ordinary', "aesthetic" film-executive you'd expect a few cuts, kooky changes of point, tracks, cranes, however here you get none of that and it wrong-foots your desires, it brings you up short and it additionally sets you up for what takes after.

Ahead of schedule in the film we see Kamble singing on a stage, declaiming a tune in an in number voice, moving all through discourse, egging on his kindred vocalists in an inquiry answer trade. After a peaceful starting, this comes like a Brechtian slap in your face. Once more, you expect the film will be punctuated by numerous such exhibitions, you anticipate that the tunes will likewise highlight on the foundation soundtrack. None of this happens. Kamble's open exhibitions, such as everything else in the film, are utilized sparingly. From this snippet of startling Brechtian " verfremdungseffekt', estranging impact, the viewer is moved and dumped unceremoniously into the court's theater, which is an Absurd's Theater, the gradualness of the monotonous procedures helping one to remember the Italian Arte Povera theater. Nothing, no little change, is yielded to the apprehension of exhausting the group of onlookers, or the motivation to divert, to 'keep the story moving'.


The force of all incredible work originates from pushing things to an amazing, boldly and without trade off. Here, Tamhane sets out his slow down, above all else with his camera. In the event that such a large number of other Indian inquirers to workmanship silver screen auteur- dom catatonically destroy about their perspectives, Tamhane does the inverse: the camera once in a while moves, whatever happens inside of a persistently still edge, with no tight close-ups at all, constraining you to look and experience without plan of action to diversion or alleviation. This is, thusly, natural to the script and the story. In the most exceedingly bad educated film, a static camera with long, endless takes tends to catch dated, dark or static thoughts, here the camera is still yet what's occurring in the casing is definitely not static, and the long takes are remunerated by a synchronous, awry developing of occasions, character and even, might I venture to say, political examination. In a ton of Indian "genuine" silver screen there is currently a skitishness about staying still, an evasion of Robert Bresson's awesome principle: 'stay in one spot, burrow profound'. Whether he knows Bresson's recommendation or not, Tamhane notices it, which yields brilliant results for both himself and his group of onlookers.

Around the succeeding dates in court are scenes to do with each of the fundamental characters aside from Kamble himself. These scenes are account oxbow lakes, plot circular drives, that any standard, workshopping Script Doctor would instantly ask the essayist to toss out. Rather, the group that has made Court savors these, once more, with no diletantish fetishization. Kamble's attorney, Vora, eats with his quarreling folks. Nutan, the administration prosecutor, grabs her
child from school. Vora goes to a bar with companions and an artist starts a Brazilian melody, you don't hear what Vora and his companions are stating, the tune assumes control, slice back to court the following day. Nutan makes supper for her family in a little kitchen, telephone slanted in her neck, prompting a companion on her girl's looming separation; Nutan goes to the theater with her family, outside there is a blurb for Ghashiram Kotwal, inside there is an altogether different sort of Marathi parody on offer. Independent from anyone else the scenes work no standard story-gears, yet in the film they act like a pickle or a chutney in an assorted thali: when these characters (all eminently acted) come back to the quarrel in court you see them in an unexpected way, their taste has adjusted, they are more adjusted as people and in this way trickier to cherish, harder to detest.

Sooner or later, without show or cautioning, the film surgical tools into one of the focal open deliberations of our general public - "There are no explosives, there are no weapons here, so where is the terrorism?" Or, is terrorism and subversion to be characterized by the impulses, biases and paranoias of the not well taught, little peered toward, mid-level powers of our nation? In spite of the multi-layered complexities, the film purloins your outrage and gathers it as it
continues. Kamble doesn't show up in the scenes' majority, however like solid stew that has been cooked into a dinner, he never goes away either. Fashioned shake hard in the flames of nonstop shocks, when he shows up on screen, he inconveniences you, jabs you hard in the gut, flavors all that you see and listen. The dead sewage-cleaner, him who we never see, likewise turns into a clear vicinity through his monosyllabic wife. In an ordinary film, sooner or later you more often than not sense the end drawing closer, yet not here. You're attracted by the outline's stillness, caught by the tranquil, unending horrifying brutality of what happens inside of it, caught not minimum by how ensnared you yourself are in this savagery. When the film closures, as Narayan Kamble you've surrendered the thought of any simple discharge, you're braced up for the whole deal of the battle against partiality. The film, similar to such a variety of court cases, has a false consummation, a bluff at a well-near flawless conclusion, however Tamhane and his kindred scholars are too great to settle for that. All through this sad story there are minutes where you hold your stomach and thunder with giggling. The movies abandons you, not with a few grandiose stupendous finale, but rather with one such snippet of extraordinary craziness, and in that lies the last awesome blessing it gives you.

Leaving the show with your 15 kindred viewers, in the meta-film that is life, you understand you've viewed the one show accessible of this motion picture, in the one far-flung silver screen in a city that would have once commended this splendid bit of artistic workmanship.

Aneek Chaudhuri

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Analog versus digital: a polemical essay



Digital age has come with all its force and propulsion. There has been an array of debates on the pros of cons of digital and analog in the context of cinema. Those who were championing film got fixed on the point that digital can never bring the texture and depth of film. Those debates are passé now.  In a recent workshop in Mumbai ace cinematographer Siddharth Diwan pointed out that film has a soft look and the look of digital is sharper. Therefore, he says, there is no point in trying to recreate the filmic look through digital medium. This particular point is interesting for several reasons, the first being a filmmaker’s obsession with the latitude and model of the camera. Cinephiles and pros alike are taking up everything ranging from a DSLR to I phone to Arri Alexa according to how much they can afford. What they essentially try and intend to do is to create a ‘film look’ in their images. There are upcoming models like Canon C500 0r Canon 1DC which promise both 2K and 4K outputs. But the paradox is there is no 4K projection in India. So this obsession with 4K is not only symptomatic of a generation of image makers obsessed with the technical part of their images rather than the aesthetic aspect of it. 



In 2014 Cannes film festival QuentinTarentino remarked that the digitisation of production and projection of films is like turning cinema into ‘public television’ and for him digital means cinema as a medium is dead whereas Michael Haneke after insistence from his cinematographer turned to digital and shot his 2013 Palme D ‘or winning film ‘Amour’ in Arri Alexa. Where do all these facts lead us to?
Digitisation of cinema as a medium has made the tools of film making accessible to many, brought it to the doorstep of the viewer and has made home viewing possible. The option of hall viewing also exists. Cinema, since its birth, is a medium supposedly meant for big screen. Watching a film in big screen has always been and will be a unique experience. But that doesn’t make watching a film in laptop or desktop or even tablet a worse experience. The only difference between the experiences is the former is collective and the latter personal. 



Another consequence of digital is with its rapid intrusion the graph of independent film making is ascending with breathneck speed. The concept of hall release is being replaced by emerging trends like video-on-demand, online distribution and crowd funding. This is democratisation of film per se. But fixation with more and more gears is nothing but an illness of a capitalist society. If this obsession can be tamed we’ll encounter a bunch of filmmakers who dare to experiment. Art has always been equated with elitism and exclusivity. Digital is destroying exclusivity, creating accessibility. Definitely digitisation is making the tools of film making accessible to a bunch of enthusiasts. Does that really mean the dissemination of technology will bring out the subaltern voice in the forefront? To answer this question it is necessary to accept that cinema is a rather modern medium and by subaltern voice I don’t mean folk art of the subaltern. A subaltern voice through a modern medium like cinema should be modern to get itself heard. The question is how that is possible. If we go back to the theory of Marxist theatre practitioner Augusto Boal’s ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’ we’d find that he tried to turn the spectator into ‘spect-actor’ to engage the audience actively with the performance. His ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’ has two branches in India. In the West Bengal branch called ‘Jana Sanskriti Centre for the thatre of the oppressed’ the director of the organisation and his colleagues are trying to make the modern tools of filmmaking accessible to the rural, marginalised voices and helping them to create their own films to form a unique film rhetoric. A similar approach can be adopted to replenish the gaps of digital technology



If we use digital medium as a tool for inclusion of voices and demolish the elitism associated with art then we can agree with what Julio Garcia Espinosa said in his essay ‘For an imperfect cinema’ published in ‘Cine Cubano’ on December 7, 1969 – “Art will not disappear into nothingness, it will disappear into everything.’’


Written by Arijit Kundu

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Sunday, 3 August 2014

Ashish Avikunthak's Latest Film “Rati Chakravyuh" Review : Kaahon.com

Ashish Avikunthak's Rati Chakravyuh again reminds us how certain better experiences in cinema arises out of an act which - many opines - cinema is to oppose: writing. The film is a tour-de-force of language. To be more specific - certain registers of Bengali language which we thought will never return or appear in Bengali cinema: ornate and efflorescent, pornographic and horrific, pedantic and colloquial. To appreciate what these registers conveyed needs multiple viewings, might be even a reading of the screenplay; but an initial impression is that of a vortex of history, recalled through a post-'70s consciousness, articulated when the surveillance of the cultural superego is in its weakest guard. It is hard to recollect any other Bengali film which is relentless in its engagement with the exhilaration of bodies and destruction of it. Yes, as far as an off-the-beaten-track Bengali cinema is concerned, I can recall no other Bengali film dealing with sex and violence in a way that is not bothered whether censorship - during articulation or before exhibition - exists. That this is entirely happening at the level of speech is just a quantitative difference.
Rati Chakravyuh Trailer
Rati Chakravyuh deals with lots of cinematic concerns which a sketchy initial impression won't do enough justice, e.g. the notions of cinematic time, narrative temporality, a 'spiral'-ing structure of narrative, the experience of duration, a fictional cinema without perspectives (both optical and the past-present-future of characters and events), the banishment of spatial and temporal background-mid-foreground structure, delayed or denied countershots, voices floating out of bodies, bodies as vehicles of speech etc. Admitting that it is trying to radically change the conventional cinematic experience with considerable success, and playing the devil's advocate, I wish to use this space to trigger certain questions.

Filmmaker Ashish Avikunthak
Is the film an instance of an 'autocratic authorship' when cinema is bared-to-the-bones ecriture, the act of ‘inscription’? Without going into the intricacies of what constitutes the 'author/auteur' of a film, and starting from a notion that the person(s) who 'write(s) and conceptualize(s)' is/are the 'auteur' - this film shows how the choice of a rigorous formal device - the circular track around stationed actors in this case - almost exhausts the creative inputs of other collaborators - the actors, the cinematographer - reducing their work into nothing but labour. Both the performances (acting and shooting) and spectation boil down to a patient endurance of duration - one starts looking for signs of fatigue in the actors, a slip in the shifts of focus, an inadvertent pause between dialogues, the camera catching an actor brushing her hair when she suddenly gathers herself in awareness - errors in this perfect feat of a performance. The film turns into a single-performance event where the means might turn out to be an end.

Because what ultimately remain are the words. I am not very impressed by the actors; so the performances add almost nothing. I was a bit tired of the monotony of shot-scales. I would have expected rhythms of changing lightscapes, the tracking shots almost slowing down into stasis sometimes to pick up the motion again. Therefore at the end it becomes a radio-play devoid of any cinema. Something the author(s) inscribed.
Because as I said earlier - lots of unprecedented things are happening in those sentences. And can cinema be merely this – well, why not?

Written by Anindya Sengupta


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