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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rituda ... (1963 - 2013)

'Mathura nagarpati kaahe tum Gokul jaao?"
Just two days back, Rituda had tweeted: Wrapped up the shoot of Satyanewshi, a crime thriller in the molten glow of the pensive falling afternoon. And, now, all we are left with are his memories, his films, his voice on record, and reverberating in our souls. Can't believe that he is no more with us.
Right from the moment I started getting messages and calls on my mobile phone telling me about the sudden and untimely demise of Rituparno Ghosh,
It felt like a personal loss.
The fact remains that, though I had met him on two occasions, there was no personal connection to boast of.

I am sure there are many like me who bonded with him emotionally because of his films, because of his thoughts and philosophies, because of what he stood for and symbolized.

My friend Sid summed it best, saying that he was an inspiration, a mentor, a guide..... a revolutionary, not in the usual firebrand mode, but in an altogether sublime way. I agree with Aryan completely when he said that it feels surreal, absurd, to watch Rituda's lifeless body being taken out of his home...... he was dressed regally yet simply, and it seemed he was sleeping in peace.
For most of his working years, he worked at a hectic pace, his mind was at a creative overdrive most of the time, and I wondered how he managed to read so much and possess such expansive knowledge on a host of things that were close to his heart.
 Saurabh's spontaneous reaction was evocative. He said: Rituparno Ghosh not only meant cinema....... he stood for a lot more - more than can perhaps be comprehensively embodied by a single person! He was a consummate filmmaker and, more than anything, passionate about aesthetics. Bonnie calls him a contemporary legend. In his words: As a filmmaker, he was unlike many of the phonies who inhabit this world, he was a genuine person, warm and magnanimous, and as a creative thinker unparalleled.
Actually, Rituda's absence from this physical world is too hard to sink in for me. I had looked forward to be provoked and challenged by defiant and emotionally-charged offerings so keenly..... anyhow, life goes on, but I would like to end this write-up with a question that has been posed by Mehul (my best friend from the virtual world), and I ponder on the same all day long..... he asks if I noticed 'how Death had a luminous presence in almost all his films'. I did. So did many of the critics. Inadequacies and insecurities of all kinds were traced translucently and lucidly by Rituda, he understood the nuances of relationships and personal vulnerabilities like none else. We will miss you Rituda, all the more with every passing day.... but, at the same time, you will always be in our hearts. There would be millions who would be influenced and inspired by you in the days to come, and I am sure you would even be endeared by many who are yet to discover you. Love you Rituda..... always will.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Horror redefined

'American Horror Story' is twisted, shocking, gross, and yet it connects emotionally, and it is indeed very scary........ it is horror redefined, for television viewers, especially for those who have a craving for the genre and who love being scared crazy.

Monday, May 06, 2013

'Bombay Talkies'

Celebrating cinema; deconstructing and restructuring the Bollywood dreams....
"Har kissa hai cinema ke jaadoo ka......" goes the song accompanying the opening credits, and those words say it all...... it is all about celebrating the magic of cinema, and somewhat magical was this experience of watching this anthology, this collage, of four films, for me. I believe cinema can move us, and that is why they are aptly called movies and the moving images connect with our souls, they let us relive the passion that is ever-present in our hearts. You know, my life has been a journey through films, and Bollywood has been an essential part of it. Watching 'Bombay Talkies' paralleled my personal reflections and my full-bodied association with cinema, in general, and Hindi cinema, in particular.
Four contemporary directors. Four short films, four distinctly different narratives. Connected only by their referencing of Hindi cinema, popularly termed Bollywood, and its obvious appendages and accessories. What better treat could we have asked for as a celebration of cinema, or rather a celebration of Indian cinema's hundred years, hundred years of narrating emotion, after all we are a bunch of emotional fools, and we are not known to eschew emotions..... instead, we love our cinema steeped in emotion, every cinematic frame that has been lauded and will be lauded again is likely to be characterized by the emotions that ooze out, that drench us, and enrich us at the same time. 'Bombay Talkies' doffs its hat in that direction. However, this time, as the format chosen by the acclaimed and/or popular directors being that of short films, the content is definitely non-mainstream, at least not the core kind. Yet, neither are the shorts influenced by the very much thriving and buoyant French shorts, or other European ones. At best, one is reminded of the Iranian films, especially in one or two of the segments.
Now, the question arises - how successful is the entire outcome? Is the bouquet worth celebrating in itself? Does it fulfill its objective? Does it overwhelm? Is it a definitive collaboration of creative contributors? Does the cinematic tribute relevant for the diversity and heterogeneity as much as the monolithic compulsions of Bollywood?
Well, those posers can have one debating, and tearing hair, but the answers are many. For me, the avid movie buff (movie junkie) that I am, the experience as a viewer was refreshing; I smiled, I chuckled, I shed a tear as well, and I marveled...... and I must say that I left the theater thoroughly entertained. I felt that Bollywood isn't facing an extinction threat, our films have evolved - they have come a long way indeed - and will continue to do so, despite the challenges faced by cinema in general, in this age and time.
Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar, and Anurag Kashyap - the four directors - have proved their worth...... they may have varying degrees of success, they may have faltered at places, and made us sit up and take note of their prowess in the best of moments (and moments there are aplenty that stay with us after the curtains come down)..... the makers, their outpourings, aided by superlative contributions of the cast and crew (which include talents both old and new) are what make 'Bombay Talkies' a special film for me (and I know I am not alone).

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Revisiting Ray

I have been revisiting some of the films directed by Satyajit Ray lately, and have been wondering why they make as much or even more sense to me, the viewer, on a repeat viewing. The answer possibly lies in the very nature and scope of classics, in any medium, to address themes and issues, or feelings and emotions, trials and tribulations, joys and ecstasies, that do not become redundant or irrelevant with the passage of time. In fact, one is able to come up with fresh appraisals, one may discover hitherto undiscovered nuances and resonances that make one pulsate with the magic of cinema.
Aranyer Din Ratri

In all, Ray directed 36 films, including feature films, documentaries and shorts.
A multifaceted genius, he wrote fiction, screenplays, and essays, scored music for his films ('Apur Sansar' onwards), made brilliant sketches and designs on print, and more. Whatever he dabbled in, he did with a certain genuineness, and had his stamp of originality. He was a treasure-house of knowledge.
As a kid, I never felt more thrilled than gorging on a Ray novel or a short story or even watching a film which might not have been age appropriate for me.
Today being Satyajit Ray's 92nd birthday, Google has honored the late filmmaker's memory by dedicating a doodle on the search engine's page for the day. It is a sketch inspired a scene from Ray's 1955 cult film 'Pather Panchali' ('Song of the Little Road'). It just makes me think that even in this age and time, Ray lives, essentially because cinema lives. Cinema may have evolved, may have come through lots of ups and downs, yet cinema as an art form has its own place, own idiom, own narrative too. Long live cinema! Long live the maestro!