Amit Khanna | April 24
Somewhere in the post World War II era of print were created two distinct approaches: first and more popular was the film reviewer and the other the film critic. By and large film reviews are what appear in newspapers and magazines, radio and TV and of course now online. A recent phenomenon is social media reviews; some even typed from inside a cinema while still watching the film. Reviewers generally follow a set pattern—Give a gist of the plot (nowadays with spoiler alerts), talk broadly about the main players’ performance, make broad comments about the screenplay, cinematography, music, production design, etc. There is usually a reference to direction. Often the reputation of the creative professionals and artistes colour the review. A trend started by American publications in the late 1940s of awarding stars based on some arbitrary methodology caught on in India as well. Even now the so called ‘serious’ film critics dispense stars as some sort of personal dole.
Any criticism of artistic work is subjective and there will always be personal biases. A peculiar hang up of Indian critics of all arts is that they become all knowing arbiters of aesthetics, form and content even when their knowledge is based on a casual read of a few books and articles. Merely watching films in film festivals or week after week in cinemas and cosying up to a select group in the art circuit in media does not give anyone the authority to pass unqualified judgement on all creative efforts. Interestingly most of these purveyors of good cinema gladly land up at a star’s house for an exclusive interview (stars sell, or so say their bosses) and do puff pieces on successful film makers.
MK Raghavendra | Apr 24
When we come to Indian cinema we find victimhood treated differently and this is true of the portrayal of Dalits as well. The tendency is to show the Dalit victim as belonging to a monolithic category transacting only with those outside. A common issue here is that of the forbidden inter-caste romance in which one of the lovers is Dalit. There are a series of films which work by this formula which, when analysed, yields the sense that ‘Dalithood’ gains significance only in relation to caste society. One does not, for instance, find romances between two Dalits from different strata which might also have been opposed. Films about Dalits appear to proceed from social preconceptions rather than unbiased observation and this is apparently because Indian cinema has not favoured mimesis.
Mimesis is a critical and philosophical term pertinent to the arts that carries a wide range of meanings – including imitation, representation, mimicry of life, and the presentation of the self. To paraphrase the general understanding of the notion, art was considered to be an imitation of the world that also allowed for individual expression, i.e.: the subjectivity of the creator of the work of art was accorded a due place. Cinema, because it begins as an imprint of reality is ideally placed to pursue mimesis…
…It is difficult to recollect an Indian film in which diversity within Dalit communities is acknowledged, so monolithic are they seen to be because of the gaze being consistently from the top. Such essentialization – although it may be the product of a ‘liberal’ outlook – is consistent with Brahminism itself, which proceeded by essentializing the jatis as varna categories and placing them within a hierarchy…
… Mimesis becomes a necessary way of portraying social conditions since it relies on observation and experience rather than apriori ‘truths’.
Talks & screenings
Utpal Borpujari’s children’s film ‘Ishu’ screened as part of IIT-Guwahati's Rongali Bihu Festival | Guwahati
Jai Arjun Singh conducts a film appreciation camp for kids of Doon School | Dehradun, Uttarakhand
Premendra Mazumder on red carpet, prior to panel discussion, ‘Education and cinema’ | Kazan, Russia
Utpal Datta following an interactive session for upcoming journalists at Cotton University | Guwahati
Rashmi Doraiswamy at debate organized by Academy of International Studies, JMI university | N. Delhi
GP Ramachandran at film appreciation camp for children organized by Kerala State Film Academy | Kerala
Ratnottama Sengupta at FTII retro event, "Mastering the craft with Nabendu Ghosh" | Pune
Cinema of Assamese - part I
Apurba Sarma being interviewed on Moviewalla, a site dedicated to meaningful cinema, on the history and growth of Assamese cinema.
Cinema of Assamese - part II
Apurba Sarma: Cinema as well as film criticism in Assam commenced with the release in 1935 of Jyoti Prasad Agarwala’s ‘Joymoti’.
Film studies in Pune
Anil Zankar who took over as the dean of film studies at Flame University, Pune, is interviewed on radio channel, Akashvani News
Le Festival Des Cinémas Indiens De Toulouse
Mari Selvaraj’s Pariyerum Perumal is the winner of the FCCI Award for Best Debut Film at the Toulouse Indian Film Festival, France.
Baradwaj Rangan (chair), Christopher Dalton, Deepa Gahlot, Gautam Kaul, Johnson Thomas, Ratnottama Sengupta, & Utpal Datta comprised the critics jury.