Journal of Indian Cinema

Vol. 1. Iss. 9 | May – June 2020

Film Critics Circle of India
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Sushant Singh Rajput — the tyranny of solitude

Amborish Roychoudhury | June 30

Sushant was an introvert, and the world doesn’t take kindly to introverts… It was during his engineering college days that Sushant discovered how acting was a more efficient way for a shy person to communicate, and speak their mind. Naseeruddin Shah has spoken about this on numerous occasions, and so has Irrfan Khan. Acting, especially acting on stage, is a tool for introverts to express themselves…

… One would imagine that as he enriched his inner world, his distance with the real world around him was growing longer and longer. He was an “outsider” in almost every sense of the term. And I’m not talking about the industry here. We live in a world that scoffs at the word “intellectual”. It’s almost a bad word, an abuse. Those who think deeply are a tough burden for our society to bear. True talent is so unbearable that we make life unbearable for them. Remember Guru Dutt? Ritwik Ghatak, Sukanta Bhattacharya, Saadat Hassan Manto, the list is long…



Rishi Kapoor — Tujh mein kya hai deewane

Amborish Roychoudhury | May 07

The mainstream Hindi film industry… was experiencing its worst phase back in the 1980s. So much so that many were declaring it dead… Precious few films were able to recover their investment, even fewer reported hits at the box office. In the middle of this dry spell, Rishi Kapoor had a blockbuster in Nagina (1986).

It was around this time that Rishi appeared in an interview for a Canadian television channel, which remains his only televised interview from that time.

”Jo cheez badi routine ho, usey aap ek novel tareeke se karke dikhaaye, uss cheez ko main bahut maanta hoon kyonki main khud ek spontaneous kism ka actor hoon”

He was, of course, referring to his approach to acting. Nobody at the time bothered too much about “the craft”. Nobody spoke about it, nobody wanted to hear about it. But here Rishi Kapoor, a “commercial cinema” actor, was talking about his “craft”. And this brings to light another aspect that was unique about that era.

Like in the rest of the world, the cinema of India was undergoing a shift in the 70s. A commitment to realism and what was seen as an emphasis on substance rather than form, gave rise to the Parallel Cinema movement.


Chalachitrar Rashaswadan

Darshana Goswami | May 29

If the making of cinema is massive multi tasking, writing a book about the art and technique behind cinema too calls for a great deal of meticulousness as well as some amount of practical experience of working behind the camera. Chalachitrar Rakhachadan… emphasizes that there is much more to cinema beyond action, dance and music. What is highly essential and missing is a chapter on acting.


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Mukul Haloi’s Ghormua

Devdutt Trivedi | June 30

Gilles Deleuze defines a crystalline-image as that image in which the transparent actual image and the opaque virtual image simultaneously exist. For Deleuze, when Scottie in Alfred Hithcock’s Vertigo makes Judy into Madeleine he has juxtaposed the actual with the virtual. The juxtaposition of actual and virtual creates a crystal-image, which for Deleuze underlines the material specificity unique to the cinematographic idiom. In Mukul Haloi’s diploma film Ghormua, this crystalline-image of time is presented as a kind of writing, which his characters free up by recitation…

… In Haloi’s film, the dream consciousness requires the mediation of language which moves from the indexical regime to that of suggestion. This suggestive discourse has an absence of light: that zero-intensity Body without Organs; that creates an imaginary image which the spectator realises by listening to the utterances on the soundtrack… In the meanwhile the sound points to the reality of the image, which for Haloi is the horizontal movement of the final shot: the flattening out of the image to a single dimension.


Nostalgia for the future: dwelling as denotation

Devdutt Trivedi | May 04

There are several other layers to this dialectic between smooth and striated in the film: the handheld camera and fixed camera shot, the zoom in to denote a vertical expansion instead of the pan that emphasizes horizontality, and the shot of blowing soap bubbles that turn the liquid into the gaseous…

… Time is spatialized in three dimensions: that of universal time, the middle-class notion of a universal as solving the problematic; the particularized lived time, as blissful ekstasis i.e. the duree of the film; and historical time as it brings about a withdrawal of movement (the freeze frame shots of Gandhi and Ambedkar). Cinema itself is this violence that requires the force of history so deny itself movement and therefore violence. However taking a shot is against the force of history and can be considered a-historical, like any other creative act. The city is space for DG’s mechanosphere, whereas the individualized time is Derrida’s differance in temporality so that every shot is new….

… The Bauhausian concerns of the film are such that the materiality of the image is more important than its crystalline form so that the denotations of Le Corbusier’s architecture either break into surficial perception (Deleuze’s liquid perception) or directly show the source of light (represented through the sun itself entering the composition of the shot). The smooth version of the space finds its denotational culmination in the shot of the waves, whereas the smooth and the striated find their middle point (or rhizome) in the sequence with the spiral  staircase. This spiral is nothing but an icon for consciousness itself…

… In the final shot, the Dalit rhythm creates a microcinema in which movement is extracted from matter, and representation is taken outside the domain of intentionality.


Irrfan Khan: the journey towards an ‘actor’s film’

Sayantan Dutta | May 13

With The Warrior, Irrfan Khan marked his presence as a lead performer in cinema. Stylistically, the film locates itself in the arena of international art-house cinema, where the presence of actors is historically more important than the typical mainstream films… Nasiruddin Shah, albeit modestly, noted the rare quality of Irrfan’s performance in The Warrior, the kind of which, he claims, he himself hadn’t mastered at that young age