Archive for the ‘Films’ Category

Film Design in relationship to Film Narrative

Peter asked :we are concerned with and focused on the role of design in relation to narrative. Every great director is a genius with narrative, that’s a given. This issue in relation to any filmmaker would be – what is their relationship to design, and to a cross-media discussion that might exclude conventional linear film narrative, and therefore force a different discussion of world-building
From Shekhar :Peter, we are the stories we tell ourselves. We are our own Mythology. And stories are us being thrown into moral conflict at many levels. Political, plot, psychological and mythological. And the most effective stories are those in which we are so achingly close to finding resolution and therefore harmony within the conflict, but the moment we find that harmony we are confronted by another conflict –
But isn’t all art and poetry and music also the yearning for harmony in conflicting words, notes or colours ? And greatest artist provoking us in and out of that harmony, causing us to shed tears of discovery and emotion.
So what’s different in design ? Design of a film must add another dimension to a film, but also create conflict and encourage us to search for harmony in that conflict. Within the broader vision of the film, but at the same time adding another dimension to the plot. Sometimes even in conflict with the plot but not in conflict with the central conflict of the film.
And if that’s for something as immense as a film, is it not the same for a design of a pendant or even a chair ?
If there is no conflict, their is no curiosity. But if there is no suggestions of harmony, there is no beauty or joy. But constant harmony will be boring, so the conflict must be provoked every time u sense he design.

Nicole Kidman and Slumdog Millionaire

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I tried to keep it quite and hush hush, but it’s all over the news papers today in any case. I am at the Taj Lake Palace Hotel shooting with Nicole Kidman, Arjun Rampal and little Rubina from Slumdog Milionaire. Fascinating cast, even for a commercial !

Pankaj Parasher’s digital Art

Film maker Pankaj Parasher has always been obsessed by the use of new technology in the medium of cinema. He was scoring his films himself through pro-tools and his computers before we even knew they existed, and now intends to make movies and tell stories through Digital Art. Here is one of his digital paintings that I particularly like. I can imagine a whole film in this style. It’s a whole new horizon of story telling through the visual arts. Pankaj is willing to speak to anyone that wants to discuss digital art with him on our blog. Just send a comment.

Gulal by Anurag Kashyap

Whether you agree with him or not, Anurag kashyap is one of the most compelling Directors in India. His innate rebellious natures transforms itself onto the screen so effectively that he is constantly challenging any preconceptions that you may have. Don’t expect easy plots or ‘armchair’ cinema from him. His characters and nature of his scenes are so compelling that you cannot help but accept his argument for the moment, only to think long and hard about it when you get home. Gulal is such a film and coming so soon after his path breaking Dev D, presents a completely different side of Anurag, a political one, not seen since his terrific ‘Black Friday’, Argue amongst yourselves later, but on screen his scenes and characters are explosive.

7 Oscars for Slumdog millionaire

As the media frenzy behind the Oscars hots up, and the contenders are exhausted by the publicity, marketing, partying, and hype enforced upon them, it is good to sit back and take a clear picture of what is really going on behind the scenes and the incredible hype of the Oscars.
First the contenders who spend 3 months eating drinking and breathing the Oscar hype. Most of them forced to do so by their distributors, publicists and their film distributors. Soon they are so exhausted that all their speeches sound the same and they use the same ‘key words’ again and again in their interviews. After a while they start believing in their own key words and their own hype ! Believe me I have been there.
But who are the people that decide. Who is behind the Academy of Motion Pictures that put out what is essentially one of the most lucrative TV franchises in the world ? Lets divide the Academy into those that are working and those that are not. Those that are working rarely see film in theatres but on DVD’s, so do not get a clear idea of the intentions of the film maker. Many do not even see the films and vote on basis of the media hype. That is why Studio’s spend so much money on Oscar campaigns. Knowing as they do that Academy members are influenced by reviews and by media hype. Like normal people. In fact the Academy had to publish a booklet warning distributors/producers and studio heads not to over hype their Oscar campaigns. That was aimed at Harvey Weinstien without naming him after his campaign for Shakespeare in Love.
Then there are those that are not working, retired comfortably or not so comfortably in retirement homes. Since you are an Academy Member for a lifetime, the average age of the Academy tends to veer towards the older, and especially as the retired have the time to see the films and fill in the voting papers. There is no compulsion to vote. I am a member, but since I do not manage to see all the films in theatres, or even on DVD, I do not vote. How do you see a hundred odd films every year, and be fair to all of them ?
That is why the journey of Slumdog Millionaire has been incredible. It is not a film that was over-hyped, nor the kind of film that would be considered Oscar worthy. It is a film who’s time had come. It was a film that broke all the rules and brought something fresh and culturally different to jaded Academy viewers. It got them to sit up and watch as Rahman’s uplifting score bashed away over images of poverty and opression, and the kids seemed to dance with their eyes to that score even under the most extreme circumstances. Just for it’s freshness and experience of new cultures it deserves every success it is getting. And Danny Boyle has done that before – his compassionate view of drug addiction in Scotland in Trainspotting still holds as a ground breaking film.
Today I leave for a retreat and unlike the rest of the world I am not going to watch the Oscars. But I think it will walk away with 7 Oscars. I will be disappointed if it does not. But is the best film of the year ? That I cannot say as I have not even seen all the nominated films. But I know how I reacted to Waltz with Bashir. It had a tremendous emotional impact on me.

Waltz with Bashir

Probably the best film this year. If the film was in English, it would be a serious contender for the Oscar. It left me moved and shattered at the same time. It is psychological, political and mythical at the same time. And about our modern day politics. It is animation, but it draws you so deep into the characters that you forget that you are watching an animation film. You find yourself searching for expression and meaning in the faces of characters as if they were real.
I am told some of that was done by filming actors and then turning them into animation. I don’t know. Whatever it was, it was a the most innovative form of Cinema I have seen recently.

Cinema as a tool of social change ?

Harijim asked : “Can cinema be a tool for political change and can we make a film in 2 months flat here in India that will have a definitive effect on the coming elections and the whole region in general?”
I think all art can be a tool of social change. Before Cinema became so popular poetry was a great tool for the mobilization of emotion and sentiment. And passionate writings before that have caused revolutions. Some of the best Art is born out of rebellion. Out of repression. Unless it is born out of yearning, Spiritual or otherwise. However Cinema can question, but is unlikely to give effective answers. It would be arrogant to do so, because then it just becomes a stereotype. Propaganda. It can suggest ways to change through the film makers own conscience and the moral choices he/she makes in telling the story.
My own favorite film of mine is Bandit Queen. It was born out of an anger I felt not only against what I saw, but also against myself because of not having seen it before. And I believe it caused people to pause and question. By making them angry. Often the anger is expressed against the artist, but thats OK.
I do wish more film were films of the artist’s conscience. But it’s a big ask in an art form which is so expensive. And of course it is possible to shoot a film in 2 months. Masoom, Bandit Queen and Elizabeth were all shot in that time period. It is not the filming but the writing and the editing that takes a long time.

Rahman and the Oscars

I am really happy for A R Rahman. He is a musical genius, and deserves everything he has got. In fact I gave him the title “Mozart of Madras” and it caught on. But does the West really get his art and his genius ? I remember getting into an argument with Andrew Lloyd Webber about allowing A R Rahman to explore his own creativity for Bombay Dreams. We had co produced the show and I had introduced Rahman and his music to him.
I asked A R Rahman to score the music for Golden Age, and even then I was allowed only to take him as a co composer. And I watched as the studio rejected the most beautiful compositions from A R Rahman, because they did not get or were not willing to embrace something from another culture. As it happened the score of Golden Age was not half as good as it could have been.
Recently Rahman did the score for my short film that I did for Swarovsky, called Paasage. The one I shot in Argentina. One of the pieces in it is a beautiful song and an aria in French. I ask people to guess where it is from, and they search for all the great composers of the western classical form. And are stunned when I tell them the piece was composed by A R Rahman, sung by an Indian girl from his Music Academy, and produced in his studio in Chennai.
That is the genius of A R Rahman. Then why do we need the West to tell us how great he is ?
And that’s why I don’t understand why this hype of the Oscars for A R Raham in Indian Media (Rah Rah Rahman was the TOI headline).. He is bigger than the Oscars Slumdog is not his best work. His music has been far more evocative than in Slumdog.
We in India have a far greater culture of music. Our depth of understanding of music, its resonance, its culture, be it classical or modern, is far greater than any culture I know. So why don’t I see that the West celebrates when one of their artists becomes popular here in India ? Why don’t we see headlines in the LA times then ?
Why do we admire the West so much. Even in my career I thought that Bandit Queen was a far far better film, a more heartfelt film, and a much more meaningful film than Elizabeth or any of the other films I made in the West. But in India I was suddenly celebrated as a film maker after Elizabeth. I even was awarded a Padma Shree after that film. Why ? Because the film was nominated for 7 Oscars, and Bandit Queen was not.
When will we stop being aspirational towards the West ?

Slum Dog Millionaire scores a perfect 10

10 oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Director, ScreenWriter plus two nominations for A R Rahman. Actually three nominations for Rahman : Best Score and two best songs. I think we need to applaud ?

Slum Dog Millionaire, time to celebrate

Lets get this right. Slumdog is an Indian film. So what if it the funds came from outside India. The funds for Bandit Queen came from the same source and it is considered an Indian film. The funds for Chandni Chowk to China came from Warner brothers, but it is considered an Indian film. So what if the Director is British, for his take on the film is completely Indian. Except for the Director, Screen Writer and one of the Producers, everyone else of the 100 odd people that make a complete film unit were Indian. The film is based on book by an Indian author.
It is easily the most successful Indian film ever. And it will get at least 3 Oscars ( but who cares about them anyway) and will ultimately go on the make $ 200 million in world wide box office and other rights. That is 10 times what has been achieved by any other Indian film, including the ones that are getting all the media hype now.
Danny and his team have done a terrific film and they deserve everything that is coming to them. It does not matter that no Indian director thought of the film. It is good that someone did and made a film. In India in any case it would have been almost impossible to find funding for this film ( $ 15 million), and keep the integrity of the story. But hopefully this film has paved the way for other Indian films that appeal internationally, and producers and financing companies will wake up to the opportunity. And buyers overseas will now be more open to films from India –
Well done Danny and his team and thank you for making this wonderful film.