Category Archives: Art and Culture

An Assignment For Physics Lovers From 15 Park Avenue

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Photo source: Amazon.in

In a country obsessed with politics and religion, it is quite rare to see any movie paying attention to science and scientists — that too fine attention. 15 Park Avenue (2005) by Aparna Sen is one such movie, which had received the National Film Award for best feature film in English.

I liked this movie for several reasons besides its screenplay and artistic merit. The foremost reason is that it brings nearly all my favourite actors and actresses under one roof — Shabana Azmi, Konkona Sen Sharma, Waheeda Rehman, Soumitra Chatterjee, Kanwaljit Singh, Rahul Bose, Dhritiman Chatterjee to mention only a few. And all of them performing under the expert direction of Aparna Sen who has shown her calibre more than once with movies such as 36 Chowringhee Lane (1981),  Yugant (1995), Paromitar Ek Din (2000) and Mr and Mrs Iyer (2002). What more could one ask for? Continue reading

How Important Is Voice In Onscreen Depiction Of Argument?

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photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar Tiger argument via photopin (license)

For the last four posts, I have been discussing portrayal of conflicts in Hindi classic movies. In my opinion, these scenes offer us some real treasures of Indian drama. Today I will talk about something elementary. How does conflict start in the first place? I agree that this is a deep question which falls within the areas of philosophy and sociology. However, here we need not go into much detail, instead mention only main steps of interpersonal conflicts. First, there is a clash — of ideas and opinions, of dreams, ambitions, preferences and so on. We try to resolve such conflicts through dialogues,  which are most often biased. We try to persuade the other person to move away from our path. When the other person does not follow, we try to convince him by logic and arguments. When that also fails, we try to show authority, strength, power, and in such way step by step the conflict takes higher notes of argument ultimately transforming into verbal duel followed by physical assaults. Continue reading

When Shabana Azmi And Smita Patil Share Screen Space, The Result Is Sheer Magic!

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Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil with Soni Razdan in a scene from Mandi (1983), a yet another Shyam Benegal masterpiece. Photo source: TheQuint.

I will continue with my discussion on film appreciation based on onscreen depiction of conflicts. In the previous two parts of this series, I highlighted the different styles employed by actors to portray the characters they were playing. In the second part, I discussed geometry, inclination and orientation in a scene. I also mentioned importance of the 1/3 rule and the leading lines. Hope you remember those details. Otherwise it is a good idea to brush up your memory by revisiting those articles because discussion in this article and all forthcoming articles depends heavily on the concepts outlined in previous articlesContinue reading

How To Watch A Movie Scene — Look For The Basic Rules Of Photography!

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When I was a child, I used to hate art movies. I always wondered how could anyone like such boring movies, which had no story, no dance or songs, no action scenes. And strangely, such movies got National awards! I always doubted some sort of foul play behind the jury decision. Of course, my favourite movies and artists did get the Filmfare awards, but then why not National awards? I always blamed it on cheating, which was my word for corruption. When I got older, I obtained the wisdom that boring movies get National awards whereas exciting (and hence good) movies get Filmfare awards! When I was in my late 20s, somehow I decided to take another look at some of these boring stuff of Indian cinema. I started with Paar, then Trikaal, Chakra and so on. And hell, I was so annoyed at myself! How could I have not liked such movies earlier! These movies and the various artists therein are real gems. How have I missed them all these years! And then there was no looking back. I explored further and tried to watch as many Indian art movies as I could find. Though I did like the narrative and the way it unfolded, and the skills of the people involved in making such artwork, somehow I always had a feeling that I was missing something more subtle. What is the grammar of art — as one of my seniors once asked me — the basic set of rules which makes any creative work a piece of art? I did not have an answer then, and even today I am exploring the answer to that question. Continue reading

Clash Of Legends Reveals The Best Of Drama

I express my heartfelt gratitude to Rahul Gandhi — had he not sent his wishes to Narendra Modi on 27th March, perhaps I would never have known that that date is celebrated as the World Theatre Day. In that context, I would add that in spite of the enormous effort and time spent, no artist has ever been able to match the acting skills of any politician. Anyway, instead of discussing politics, I would rather write a few words to commemorate this day and to pay belated tribute to all the people who are involved in performing arts. Continue reading

Holi Leaves Many Questions Unanswered

Winter has already passed and we have already started getting ready for the summer ahead. Mornings and nights are still cold whereas afternoons are hot. Forenoons are pleasant, very very pleasant. Peculiar March weather. Yet another festival — Holi — is knocking at our doors. The whole campus is empty — students, professors, staff, nearly everybody has gone on leave. Yes, the whole campus is indeed empty, except only a few individuals. Most of them live such an isolated lives — engrossed in social media and/or video games — that even their neighbours aren’t aware of their existence. There are others of whom I could only say that it would have been better had they not existed at all. But this world doesn’t go by our choices or preferences, so we have to adjust ourselves and share this planet with such demons. Continue reading

What Has Art To Do With Social Security?

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photo credit: Ukenaut Agra Fort – Abbey Road via photopin (license)

It was a dinner party. While food was getting ready, the host entertained his guests by raising several topics for discussion and entertainment. It was mostly for entertainment, as such parties are seldom an occasion for serious intellectual discussion. If someone makes any political statement, or explains any scientific theory or shares some issues of personal life, it should be considered as such without giving too much importance to it. It is just a social gathering and communication is the only objective there. In other words, contacts, relationship, communication is the primary goal there and the subject of discussion is secondary, just serving as a foundation or medium for that discussion to take place. This is important to note because time and again we come across occasions when a dinner party was spoiled by some stupid discussion on politics and/or religion. That is why these two topics are in general ‘prohibited’ from after-dinner discussions. Continue reading