Saturday, November 12


I remember when my mother was pregnant with my sister, she went to her maternal house in Lucknow while I stayed with my father on a condition that he will show me any film which I'd ask him to take me for. I was 5 and it would have been difficult for him to convince me not to go with her, so he agreed. To his credit, he kept his word. We lived in a small town in eastern U.P called Deoria. There were only three theatres (now only two of them exist) then.

The first film that I saw was 'Mr. & Mrs. Khiladi' in Sooraj Talkies. I don't think I had laughed that much ever before. The second film was 'Jurassic Park: The Lost World' in Hindi at Vijay Talkies. It was winter and my father would take me for 9 pm shows. He would sleep in the empty theatres and I would just look at that those old screens with bad projection, almost transfixed. I was thrilled to see that film. Still am. With not just that film, but numerous others that I saw there and in Allahabad and in Lucknow and while travelling. When others used to go for sight-seeing, I used to watch films. I saw 'Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge' when we visited Dehradun in April 2000.    

 I can recount thousands of instances where if anyone were to gift /reward me, it had to be through a film. 'Mann' was the prize for getting 3rd rank in 3rd standard's quarterly exams. Most of these would be night shows. I would be as happy as I could ever be. I would smile for days if liked the film. I would sulk for days if I didn't like it. But my faith was firm, someday I would find something in this.

That I had inherited from my father, the love for cinema.  

In 2009, a strange thing happened. I enrolled in a media school, full of students from the higher strata of society. Though I'm not poor, I'm not so well off either. I was suddenly surrounded by people who would talk about camera lenses and framing and sound design. College taught, film-making is a craft. It is more than going loony over an actor. 

But I couldn't figure out why the importance of watching a film was unimportant now. It was about 'analysing the frames' solely and not for the feeling of watching a film itself. 

I thought watching a film on the screen meant that I surrender myself to the world of the film. It was to go and appreciate the effort in bringing those stories alive. To search for what I could see. Not what others told me. I never asked anyone 'how did he/she liked a film or should I see it?' It's personal. It's like praying. You do it for yourself. You don't tell others how you pray or why you pray or whether it's bearing fruits. It always does, sometime or the other.

But no, everyone believes it's about see how honed the craft of the film maker is. 

I think the danger of craft is that it needs to be in a second position to what it is that you're doing.
-Charlie Kaufman

The intention or the honesty is immaterial. I'm a paying customer. The product or so it is called, must be worth my time and money. I must get my return on investment. Or else, I'll go to Facebook/Twitter and tell everyone, Don't see the film. I can go to the extent that I'll call the film 'Randi picture' if I don't like it. No, I won't stop. I'll continue till the film is killed. Till half the people have already decided that this prayer doesn't bear fruits. It doesn't lead me to God. 
It's immaterial that it tells some other things. Some other things that might be important to someone else. Maybe, a person would have seen that 'Randi Picture' and found it similar to his own life, if I wasn't arrogant that my way of reaching God is the only way. It's a mild form of Fanaticism. But that's okay. As long as I've a few people supporting my viewpoint,  I'm fine with this Fanaticism. 

After all, how can there be something in it if I didn't see it. Maybe, I was texting on my BBM and something whizzed past.  

Of course, there are experts too. They have an even more certain way of measuring devotion of film makers. They give stars. They measure the prayer by a completely different parameter. If I reach this level of spirituality, I'll give it these many stars. Okay. 

This has become routine now. I'm still a 5 year old when I enter a theatre. The feeling of getting inside as early as I can, not missing the credits (including the end credits) is still important to my happiness. But what has changed are the reactions. No one is ready to sit through a 3 hour long old world kind of cinema (Mausam and Rockstar), it seems 'stretched'. A better way to put it, it was edited badly. 
And failure is not an option (Ra.One). You have to succeed. At all costs. Because I'm going to see the film on the basis of how the marketing was done. You know, I've a certain expectation. And as a paid slave, you must entertain me or I'll kill your 'Randi Picture'. It's a different thing that I'll ask opportunities when making college degree film. But you must succeed. 

Yeah, a lot has changed in terms of media to see a film. But so has the way of watching a film. It must give something to me.  

It's not an accident then that three films I liked this year were tore apart by 'critics' and public alike. They were boring, unoriginal and long. It's not even a cause to rethink that someone put so much heart and soul, honesty to bring the story alive. So what if he failed. Failure is the way to learn. All three were made over two or more years each. But the junta's verdict is final. FLOP. 

The innocence and excitement in watching a story unfold in a theatre is not attractive anymore. The searing honesty is not appreciated by people who revel in artificiality of people/events. 

"I think Rockstar has been my most difficult film. I didn't make the film as a director should, my emotional side took over. I made irrational decisions, but they are heartfelt"
-Imtiaz Ali