Friday, 21 February 2014

Lost in Transition

The Harrington Street Arts Centre

Exhibition: Lost in Transition

My recent liking is reaching to people by post. It just came with the new year, the idea. Have been sending friends and family post cards, drawings etc. So it was a pleasant surprise to read about this exhibition in the 'today' section of the Telegraph.

Lost in Transition was about letters. Most of the installations were post boxes. In kolkata every building has a wall lined with post boxes. Its much more than at home. During the shoot of our first Demo film i had done a sketch of one such wall. It was shot at my classmate S Kar's friend Sud Basu's place. A north Kolkata building where the light was fantastic and feeling best suited to my aging mind. I was totally in love with the location and did this during the time i was asked to guard the frame from passers by during take. Now you know how well that job was done. Here is the sketch. 

One of the installations mentioned how it was becoming more and more difficult for post-people to deliver mail. Kolkata has banned bikes on most roads thereby taking away the means of transport for them. [Bike is short for bicycle. Using bike for motorbike is Indianism]

Here are some of the work there. 

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Not Smoking in Public in Kolkata


On February 10th i took the decision not to smoke in public. It is a huge step for an addict especially for one in Kolkata. Here the rate of smoking in public is higher than any place i have been to. Back home it wasn't even possible for me because people would approach me thinking i was a prostitute or to moral police me. That way home was better. I don't think it matters that people ask you not to smoke in public because you are a girl. It's okay. Nobody should smoke in public. Ideally nobody should smoke. I know i will quit one day. I hope it happens before nicotine gets the better of me. 
Was reading in front of my department that day. An Equal Music by Amitav Ghosh. The book is a thriller. My definition of a thriller is a little out of the conventional, so don't take my word for it. I was brought back to the real world by the most gentle touch on the shoulder. It was an old friend, a senior-D. Were very close for some time and had fallen out for over a year. But when he touched me like that i felt it was by someone who knew me in and out. Who liked being near me. Who loved me. He wanted a cigarette. I had to turn him down. I later thought of inviting him over for lunch just because of that beautiful touch i thought most men were incapable of. Then dropped the plan. Have always been bad at starting things afresh, maintaining good ties with people etc. 
With the new year i had also decided not to waste food. This meant i would have to keep a few things in a refridgerator. My coconuts, curry,mint leaves etc. are therefore distributed among three fridges in the hostel. One in the mess in first floor, one in Al's room in ground floor and one in my neighbour and friend Mith's room in second floor. Every day a dish or two are born out of ingredients from one or more of these. Its a montage, a film student would like to say. 

So for the cabbage thoran for the day that D missed due to my horrendous social skills i went to Mith's room for the coconut. We talked for a while, she had just been back from MIFF in Mumbai. She casually asked me what i thought of a beautiful orange and green [great combination of colours this is, if you hadn't noticed already] jute bag hanging precariously on her cupboard knob. When i said what i thought she said i could have it. Polite no's. But my eyes watered. It had been long since someone did that to me. It had been long since someone touched me like D did that morning. Everything added up. I cried even after reaching my room. 

At night after the screening when i told A Leo Pou of the new decision he said he was going to gift me a flower pot. I forgot to collect it from his quarters that night. He had inspired all of us by making a beautiful vegetable garden behind the doctor's chamber and adorning the parapets of both his balconies with lovely flowering plants. The next day he came all the way up my room and gave me one of those plants. Purple. Lovely. Now sits smugly in my balcony. His documentary 'My Grandpa's Home' had been screened at MIFF and we talked about it for some time. It was about his grandfather who was the last member of his tribe not to have converted to christianity. A lot of people were impressed by it, he said. I was very happy for him. He then took me to his vegetable garden to pluck peas for his dinner. I got some too. Also gave me a mint sapling. I hope it flourishes. 

The gifted pot

Summer is on its way. I hope to get a single occupancy room soon. Even thinking of feigning some kind of sickness so that they are forced to give me one but truly out of ideas for it. As soon as i get one i will start on that long time dream of a vegetable garden. These are the things which will help keep yourself sane in this maddening shit pool. One has to have some fluffy couch to sink in at the end of a tiring day and here every day is one.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

January 2014: Films

What Time is it There?

Tsai Ming Lang again. Good. But have forgotten most of it already. When will i be able to overcome this. A curse. But the attempt of the girl to sleep with the woman was really good. Her in the metro and everyone understanding the language and getting out while she alone remains. The problem of language. Similar concerns-yours.

Les Diaboliques

Loved it. Thrilling.

The Hole

Loved it. Its interesting how the movie is supposed to be happening in 2000 and we are watching it in 2014. Are our fears the same? Very intriguing movie. Truly brilliant. The whole hole idea is too good. The building up of their relationship- to be noted.


Quai des Orfevres- Henri Georges Clouzot
Thriller again. Truly good. The character of the detective is really good.


Anhey Gorhey Da Daan

[Alms for the Blind Horse]

The director- fan of Mani Kaul and it shows. Amazing use of sound. Slow pace for slow life, stagnant nature- technique? But does it mean anything in the end? The train passing scene was amazing. Good. But don't LOVE it.

Hollywood shit. Have tried to make it a tad bit different. But doesn't really make much. Hides propaganda like always. Christianity.



A great thriller. Very few black and whites which i like. Have noticed that i can watch black and whites in one go only if they are thrillers. The first one that i did was Twelve Angry Men. Then came A Man Escaped. Most people don't consider them thrillers but to me they are. I have a different definition of thriller altogether. By that standard Stalker is one too, for me.
Watched the truck scenes with bated breath. Like i was playing a very exciting video game. Felt good.


First Mohsen. Didn't like it much. The film appeared to me a fantasy tale. Like a folk tale, perhaps. The story told by the girl who comes out of a carpet (gabbeh). The landscape and nature that the film shows are beautiful. One could just go on looking at it. 

31. 12. 2013


Battle in Heaven
Carlos Reygedas

Liked it on second watching too. Like this one better than Japon. Problems of the middle class, frightening. I honestly cannot imagine a woman who prostitutes out of boredom.



Abbas Kiarostami

My first Kiarostami. Loved it.
What touched me the most was 'she' calling the writer J-j-j-JJames in the end. 


Carlos Reygadas

Second Reygadas after
Battle in Heaven. Loved it. Noticed that the director's emphasis on 'imperfect' human bodies pertains. So does his extremely lengthy point of view shots which in the end becomes an over the shoulder or a wide angle with the character themselves.

Kamal Swaroop in Jadavpur University


Kamal Swaroop in Jadavpur University
Photo: Arundhati Ghosh

Kamal Swaroop's documentary-fiction Rangbhoomi was screened followed by an interaction with him in Jadavpur University today. The film is about Dadasaheb Phalke and is his latest project. I had watched Om-Dar-Ba-Dar, the movie which made him famous only a day ago and was eager to meet the director. It is considered a cult movie in indian scenario and i agree that the country has seen no such. I have some ideological queries about it though.

Rangbhoomi was done with the help of students from Srishti School of Art Design and Technology, Bangalore. I liked the movie also for this. It is democratic in that way. The director is not all powerful and the narrative moves forward also through the help of these young people. They were asked to do some research on the time Phalke spent in Benares after he decided to resign from movies. There he had written a semi-autobiographical play called Rangbhoomi, a seven hour long one. The movie uses the text of this play and films the students and Swaroop himself doing research work in Benares. It moves forward with the people they meet in this process and the information they gather. Shot in digital, i also liked it that the possibilities of the medium are greatly explored. Visual effects are used copiously. Some of them blow your mind. Swaroop said that for him the research that went behind the making of the movie [he had done it for as long as twenty years] was more important that the movie itself. He also said that it was not his movie and was that of the cinematograper and the editor. He was able to enjoy the film because of this, he added. In the movie we see himself going around Benares asking people if they knew of Phalke's time spent there etc. He said that we ourselves could see that he wasn't directing anybody. It was the original play that was directing all of them, he clarified. There were, however some deliberate elements. He, for example, was sure that he didn't want his images to resemble the many photos of Benares that we are familiar with. Therefore a stone miniature of Benares created by an art director from FTII was used. He was filmed against a blue screen and later pasted on this, in some places. 

As a part of the reasearch they developed a website called PhalkeFactory. It is quite interesting. Anybody with an account can make changes and add data in it. 

There is a lovely scene in the movie when Phalke's movies are shown to the localites. The movie had got funds from Films Division because it had that year [2013] got a new chief and the country was also celebrating 100 years of cinema. Swaroop said he thought it was an interesting idea to show people of Raja Harishchandra Ghat 'Raja Harishchandra' as a means of commemorating the hundred years. 'Just fooling around', he said, laughing.

He said that he usually shied away from watching his work and that it was like a pilgrimage or exorcism for him. 'It's good your name is in the film [and] you haven't made [it]'. He concluded, laughing.