Saturday, June 26, 2010

FA 2010 - FTII, Pune

The Prabhat Bell calls for take.

Shot number 35 ! Film Appreciation 2010 ! Lights Camera Action ! Clap !

We are serenaded by the lilting and suave notes of our Pied piper , Suresh Chabria ji . With his magic lantern , he invites us into the powerful hypnosis that is Cinema. Synesthesia sets in. Our senses blur as the screen before our eyes lights up with Sergio Leone’s gunned outlaws, Kubrick’s waltzing spaceships, the inevitability of Apocalypse Now. Yes it is Apocalypse Now. An Apocalyptic dose of cinephilia.

Where is the Friend’s home? Kiarostami asks us on the first day, and we set out on a quest in search of our old friends, Films.( By the end of the course we pride in calling ourselves Foofs ; Friends of Old Films) We wind down the cobbled streets of time , and encounter our great grandfathers, the Lumiere Brothers, George Melies, D.W.Griffith and many more. We walk through the Narratives, past the Tableaux , up the hills of Montages, sail past illusory lakes.We enter the world of Sonimage, now Real , now fragmented, through Surreal waters, and ride the gales of wretched Realism .

Edvard Munch Screams through the Cabinet of Dr.Caligari, and we know the Germans have Expressed through their Metropolis! As the Bicycle thief rushes past us, and we are left stranded on the pavement watching Breathless, Pierrot the fool, catches us unawares and splashes the walls around us with colour! Swept away by the Wave of the French Nouveau, we land in midst of a Red Dessert, and find an oasis of metaphors, satires, the Blues of a trapped lady, the Reds of passion blood , the yellows of summer and sadness. We walk into the lush green fields of an Ozu landscape and find Seven Samurais waiting to attack us with an effusion of Kurosawa’s passing seasons.

Eventually, we enter the Noir streets of the city , chased by shadowed figures, dark alleys, gunshots and cornered by femme fatales. Now and then a train rumbles along , and dark smoke shrouds the immaculate conscience of the city, making the city a place of the anti-heroes and Helens. We waltz to a labrynthian city symphonies and take a high ride with Thelma and Louise.

Meanwhile, halfway across the world, three fathers ,V. Damle, V.Shantaram and S.Fatehlal sit under the wisdom tree of Indian Cinema and sound the Prabhat trumpet into history. In the distance, standing on top of the great Mount Melodrama, Nargis holds the cross on her shoulders, and questions her son, “Tujhe ma chahiye ya chaney?” This is the quintessential Indian emotiscape, the Indian Madonna who sheds rivers of blood to inundate fields of a Bharat who brackets his stories by proclaiming, “Mein Bharat hoon” while, somewhere in the dingy lanes of this Bharat , a cynical bard sings ‘Jinhe naaz hai hind par who kahaan hai?’ We are yet to get an answer to that question amidst throes of War and Peace In the Name of God.

We meet Bhai Miyaan and Bilaal, go in search of The other Song with Rasoolan bai, and marvel at the Great Indian School Show. The Digital Camera takes us a step too close to the human mindscape of Love sex and Dokha .

In the midst of it all it rains. The fancy umbrellas are out . The streets are sparkling wet in the early morning mist. The Chaplins, Mrinal Sens, Kurosawas, Toshiro Mifunes, Satyajit Rays and Ritwik Ghataks in FTII soak in the monsoon’s first showers and greet us with wizened visages as , we take our final walk down the FTII street, and meet again under the wisdom tree to sing songs of a new bond. We are the FA 2010.