Journal of Indian Cinema

Vol. 1. Iss. 29 | May 2021

Film Critics Circle of India

On the declivity of disciples

Dnyanesh Moghe | May 31

A tragedy in three parts, each separated by prolonged blackouts, The Disciple takes shape using the Indian classical music fraternity as one big metaphor to demonstrate how in today’s world of self-promotion and exaggerated marketing, degradation has occurred in almost every field, and how our blinded attitudes are responsible for the distortion of many of our long-standing, cherished values; politics and the social fabric being classic examples of such deformations…

… When a folk singer sings out the truth about how we who have evolved through indigenous traditions have today become alienated and flawed and thus turn a blind eye, the protagonist pretends not to see or hear him. And the film ends. Tamhane strongly brings upon us the realization of the losses we have suffered over the declivity of disciples through several generations.



Devdutt Trivedi | May 12

Shot in a vertical aspect ratio, Yudhajit Basu’s Kalsubai attempts a layering of consciousness that is, at base, hierarchical. The shot, which is between the ‘On’ and ‘Off’, gestures on the recording button on the camera and is a rhizomatic construct i.e., it connects one middle to the next middle. Basu’s attempt however is to challenge this rhizomatic construct and to instead open up a layering of consciousness that is, at base, phallic.

Kalsubai the goddess of the Mahadeo Koli people is the subject of the film. The mise en scène is so constructed that the primordial consciousness is the id, the unconscious that manifests itself as the ego of the subject Goddess. The structuring of the Self is as a tree and not as a rhizome. The vertical aspect ratio also helps one to see the frame’s matching with the expansion of consciousness, as the film progresses.


The Disciple — a love story of the artist and his art

Oorvazi Irani | May 31

The protagonist of The Disciple above all is a seeker, and is deeply in love with music, aspiring for absolute union with his art; thus making this a love story, albeit, not a conventional one. The conflict in its external form is society and survival, and in its internal form is the inherent talent of the protagonist. The film belongs to the realist mode of filmmaking, and the authentic real settings and non-actors as characters in the film go a long way to achieve that goal…

… The beauty of the film I feel lies in the fact that it juxtaposes the old and the new and in that it questions their values and principles and asks the audience to introspect. I think it helps discuss many dimensions of the ancient and modern. For one it helps put a spotlight on how art is taught and received… The Disciple introduces us for the most part to the practice in Indian classical music of the guru being  not just a teacher for a few hours providing a service in exchange for money but as an imparter of knowledge gained through personal experience and handed down from one generation to the next.



Journal of Indian Cinema

Vol. 1. Iss. 01–29.

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