Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cinema - Now and then

            A small piece of glass which was ground to a particular geometry made revolutions. When this glass piece called lens was touched by light, it ended up in producing miracles. The miracle has bent our minds and teased the lobes of our brain. This magical affair between them (lens and light) has evolved through ages in producing visual treats in the name of CINEMA. This enthrallment has gripped people in the past in their seats; contrarily it had brought them to their edges or even made them to run away.

 The first motion cinema (actually second one, earlier one was a kissing scene by a couple, which aroused several controversies) was that of a train approaching a station, when it was screened, the whole crowd fled the theatre assuming a real train was approaching.That’s how cinema made an everlasting impact in the pristine minds of people. The cinema which broke my silence when, “Superstar gets his chewing gum in a stylish manner; Batman hisses to Bane, “..then you ll have my permission to die” or when the magnificent yellow bumblebee transforms into a monstrous roaring Camaro.       
            Cinema means a lot to me. Watching a movie in a theatre was always like a picnic, with my mom packing snacks in a pouch and getting to the movie halls an hour before, to avoid disappointments of house full sign. Watching the giant hoardings painted (nowadays they come in flux, which I loathe) in bright colors, with our villains at the legs of our super hero. The days are still fresh like a cream that floats in my cappuccino or speaking in a desi manner, fried cashews that adorns my mom’s payasam!!!

            Movies and my dad are so inseparable; I wonder how many movies we had seen. I still remember the day when he took me to “Jurassic park” movie.  The moment T-Rex (Tyrannosaurs) came on the huge screen; my mouth was wide open in disbelief and fingers gripping my dad’s arms tightly.Tears ebbed in my eyes, when the little girl Anjali dies in Maniratnam’s epic “Anjali”. I still doubt, if they make movies which has equal dosage of enjoyment and emotional elements.

            There was a period getting a ticket to our superstar flick was next to impossible, but now we have transformed through ages. We have moved towards “no queues, no worries”; with one touch flick we have the tickets delivered to our mobiles using apps and tech savvy stuffs. We have passed through Edison’s Kinetoscope to 3D stereoscopic fusion camera. The technology has jumped leaps and bounds in making movies that can teleport us to different world.

            Iconic directors believed in the art of storytelling using very little techniques. This art was mastered by Akira Kurosowa, Steven Spielberg and a very few (sorry if I had missed your favorite). The art is being slowly tarnished by the new age directors with technological wizardry. We now have movies that believed more in its 3D content and viral advertising propaganda. “Avengers” was a classic example of former and latter entities. The technological evolution and the art of storytelling haven’t been progressing at the same pace. The technological complexity seems to under play the narration or convey the message which it was supposed to.

Christopher Nolan could be the find of this decade perhaps; he has the craft of utilizing the technology to tease our grey matter and produce a cinematic excellence. Such craftiness was seen in Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo”, the film that made the best use of 3D (next to avatar).  Some make movies for the sheer joy; they have for movies, like Tarantino. There could be no concrete plot but still the way each characters are etched , will make us sit through this pleasurable ride.

This discussion has its own boundaries within Hollywood, so it’s trivial to extend the debate with Indian or regional cinema. To some extent I should be happy that we still love to narrate or hear stories, just like a kid who loves to hear it from his/her granny. It’s a pity that Indian cinema is often reflected by Bollywood’s Khans and sensuous heroines. Every major film festival (Cannes, Toronto etc.) often have Indian celebrities as models for their vogue, we aren’t identified as film makers.

The country that is making films for the past 100 years has no dearth of talents. It fails to recognize them or it is biased to one particular section. FFI (Film Federation of India) recommends one film each year to Academy Awards (Oscars!!!), in that manner our ticket to Oscars was Barfi (a Hindi movie). I appreciate the pool of films from different languages, but still can’t they find the best. Bengali movies are aesthetics of true art and not to forget the South Indian films especially Tamil movies. At the end of the day, few cinematic excellence gets the reward it deserved (Aranya kandam- National Award-Debut Director)

This could sound as an elegy to the fading quality and failed recognition of true cinema. The celluloid world is looking down the barrel, with its major investors filing bankruptcy (Eastman Kodak). The transition towards digital era couldn’t be much debated due to crisis engulfing even most big companies. This has pushed us into a new era of independent and innovative film makers.

This new age has thrown its doors open for aspiring film makers to make intelligent films at shoe string budgets. The films that can wield technology to explore the creative land and evoke an emotion. The films have evolved to pro-filmic color and anamorphic dimensions, If this progression of technology continues leaving behind the quality, we would be left with popcorn entertainment and 3D glasses to shunt piracy

“The cinema began with a passionate, physical relationship between celluloid and the artists and craftsmen and technicians who handled it, manipulated it, and came to know it the way a lover comes to know every inch of the body of the beloved. No matter where the cinema goes, we cannot afford to lose sight of its beginnings.”- Martin Scorsese


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