Thursday, 31 January 2008

ELEPHANT, jan 31

Before Elephant, we will be screening 'SNIP' a film by
Aditya Vikram Sengupta(Graphic Design, Sem8).
This was his 2nd project.
It is a mix of animation and live-action.


Gus Van Sant

A cinematic response to the 1999 Columbine High School shootings, in which
12 students were shot down by 2 of their peers.


Winner of the Palme d'Or and Best Director prizes at the 2003 Cannes Film
Festival, 'Elephant' takes audiences inside an American high school on
what appears to be an ordinary day. Most of the film takes place about 5
minutes before the shooting occurs, following several characters as they
live out their school lives, unaware of what is about to unfold.

Van Sant’s loose script is enacted by mostly non-professional actors and
high-school students who kept their names and chose their own clothes for
the film.'Elephant' refuses to conform to conventional notions of cause
and effect, and instead weaves an inexorable spell on the viewer with its
strangely meandering long takes, striking visual harmony and looping
narrative structure.


He is an American Academy Award nominated film director, photographer,
musician, and author.

With films like My Own Private Idaho, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, To Die
For, Good Will Hunting, and Finding Forrester, writer/director Gus Van
Sant has explored what it is to be young and searching for an identity.
Openly gay, he has dealt unflinchingly with homosexual and other
marginalized subcultures without being particularly concerned about
providing positive role models.


We can understand the title 'Elephant' to refer to the parable of several
blind men describing an elephant by each touching a different part;
extending the meaning to refer to the infinite perspectives each of us can
bring to the one thing.


In various versions of the tale, a group of blind men (or men in the dark)
touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one touches a different
part, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then compare
notes on what they felt, and learn they are in complete disagreement.
The story is used to indicate that reality may be viewed differently
depending upon one's perspective, suggesting that what seems an absolute
truth may be relative due to the deceptive nature of half-truths.


Tuesday, 29 January 2008

STAY, jan 29

Mark Forester
"Between the world of the LIVING and the DEAD there's a place you're not
suposed to STAY..."

A mind-bending thriller with an experimental but moving and mesmerizing
double narrative that plunges below the surface of ordinary experience to
take a man on a spiraling descent through the mysteries of identity,
dreams and the very fabric of existence.

A distraught young man announces to his psychiatrist that he plans to
commit suicide in 3 days. The psychiatrist's desperate attempt to help his
new patient leads him through the city on an incredible, nightmarish
journey that bends reality.


Born in Germany and raised in Switzerland Marc Forster was a student of
NYU's film school.

He declined a 500,000 Dollars offer to direct a film despite having no
income at the time and living from money borrowed from friends. He didn't
believe the script was good and was afraid his reputation as a director
would suffer.

He says about STAY
"I think it's too much to say it's dark and complicated. It's a little
more out there. In a sense it's sort of like 'Fight Club'. It's darker
definitely. It goes back to Monster's ball roots but it definitely has
hope as well. You have to engage in the film. You can't just relax and

"Stay is a film that revels in breaking the rules- those of both story
telling and film making techniques. So often I have seen films like this
that try to walk the line between creativity and confusion. The director
manages to do that with precision." Kevin Carr, 7M Pictures.

Stay did not do so well at the box office, or as well as the Academy Award
winning film 'Finding Neverland' did!



poster by Girish Sheetal

Thursday, 24 January 2008


Adam Elliot

The story revolves around the life of Harvek Milos Krumpetzki, born in Poland in 1922. At the outbreak of World War 2he comes to Australia as a refugee, and changes his name to Harvie Krumpet. Despite a life filled with bad luck - such as having Tourette's Syndrome, being struck by lightning, and losing one of his testicles - Harvie remains ever optimistic, living out his own eccentric way of life, marrying a nurse he meets in hospital and raising an adoptive daughter, who is a Thalidomide baby. Throughout his disaster-ridden life, people around him come and go, but right to the end Harvie delights in the simple pleasure of life. In one of the pivotal episodes of his life Harvie sits in the park next to a statue of Horace while he hears the instructional Carpe Diem that inspires him to many changes in life including embracing the naturist ways and embarking on daring rescue missions for animal rights.

The film won Best Animated Short Film in the 2004 Academy Awards.
Harvie Krumpet is a claymation film.

Adam Elliot's website :
Harvie Krumpet's site :

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

SUDDHA, jan 23

We had invited today's guest at the suggestion of one of the students, and
luckily for us, he said he'd come!

Today we will be having with us Mr.P.N.Ramachandra. He is an FTII graduate
and is presently based in Mumbai making documentaries, short films and TV
shows under the banner of Sonk Films. SUDDHA is his first feature length
film. It was adjudged Best Indian Film at the Osian Cinefan Festival of
Asian Films in New Delhi 2006

(The Cleansing Rites)
105 mins
digital format, Language: TULU

The film is about a family in a remote village in South India which
realizes that it is in its last leg of feudal existence when it cannot
perform a last rites in a scale in which it was once used to.

The film depicts the impact the Land Ceiling Act, ushered a few decades
back in the country, has had on its social structure. It is the story of
modern India – of changing caste equations and a realisation of the
reality among the land owning class, albeit a bit late. Though the film
is set in a remote village near Mangalore, it could well have happened
in any other village elsewhere in India.

Here are a few links that ought to be checked out before watching the film



Tuesday, 22 January 2008


Krzysztof Kieslowski

Fill in the blanks

Witek runs after a train. Three variations follow on how
such a seemingly
banal incident could influence the rest of Witek's life.

One: he catches the train and.................

Two: while running for the train he bumps into
a railway guard and.........

Three: he simply misses the train and ....................

Here's a nice review->

Friday, 18 January 2008

Virumaandi: a review by Ayswarya

In over 60 years, mainstream Indian cinema has evolved from the times of phalke through various phases, evolving a unique prototype for itself. The very language is heavily based on theatre and other performing arts, replete with songs and costumes. Simultaneously, it has also tried to imitate the trends of Hollywood, but the internalization of western material culture has happened within Indian fantasies. So, even if the lifestyle and material aspirations maybe western, the outlook and spirit have retained and reflected something uniquely Indian. From the moral journey of the hero to the archaic archetypes of women and honour and sexuality, the desires and dire circumstances of the mass drove the industry.

There were no protagonists but only heroes, who became moral icons. Archetypes and formulae had always laid the unshakeable foundation of mainstream cinema. If a film slightly comments on the system rather than judges, if the fantasies are brought down to realities, if icons are made human, the films have been pushed to the margins of parallel cinema.

This had been unfortunate for the parallel movement, for its standards have been conveniently slackened by popular notions and the whole need for cinema in India still remains undefined. Now, we don’t really know what is meaningful cinema in the Indian context.

While the west has been going through phases of formal experimentations as well as thematic shifts according to changing social situations, we have stayed back in some basic notions of social realism. Even while dealing with social realism, we couldn’t deal properly with our innate melodrama thematically and haven’t dealt with the materiality of the medium formally. Especially in the area of art production, we have remained as minimally representational as affordable.

When it comes to constructing spaces for cinema, we have always been content with the barest theatrical representations. Even when money is thrown into big sets, they are only fantasy contraptions which titillate; Plain show off of money than a meaningful part of the movie. We couldn’t incorporate grandeur as an essential part of our movies. Affluence was always related with unattainable fantasy.

But of late, the boundaries are thinning. The material culture of the west is shaping the aspirations of a new India and the new cinema. The urban romantic comedy and the over simplified formulas executed in fast cuts and slick storytelling is the thing that people seem to have patience for. With the internet generation’s dominance, we have impatient audience who also want to be entertained without reminders of regular life or any remote baggage for thought. Or it is the super-hero with his ready-made judgments and panacea for all social ills.

In this situation, people like kamal hasan who have a come a long way, through decades of toil in such a rigid industry still wanting to give some class and substance to popular cinema have to be lauded, atleast for their spirit. And that’s why virumaandi is an important step in tamil cinema.

Being an iconic super star, funded by worried producers, he is the only one with a personal journey in the industry. Considering the complicated state of our simplemindedness, humanism is one major area for meaning making in our society, which hasn’t been approached without prejudiced moralising or ready-made solutions. In this scenario, to subvert a system as rigid as popular cinema, is quite a confrontation.

Because even the boldest of our social realist films don’t ever touch upon delicate areas like caste or sexuality at their primal ugly real roots. In virumaandi, the basic issue is caste-based violence in our villages. But the protagonist, a vain, na├»ve village hero, a foreign-return, who is ultimately made the scape goat of the village politics, who is heroic by default due to his simplicity and youth, has to be more glorified for popular satiation and has to be kamal haasan himself, beefy pink and middle-aged as he is. This is quite a tragedy for the film naturally, but maybe unavoidable due to financial reasons maybe.

Because, otherwise, the casting is flawless and brings the soil alive in the human flesh, from the sweat to the blood to the talcum powder. Considering most of them are professional actors, also great picks from the theatre, they have internalized every gesture and spirit of the environment. The characterizations have been done with meticulous, amusing detail. The documentary style, cinema verite approach suits the film well, as it is highly provincial and rich with anthropological detailing and also a murder mystery. It is more of an insider’s film rather than the surface issue of death sentence, as proposed. For the caste based hierarchies steeped in the psyche of tamil villages dictates all nuances of their daily life including the very body language of the people; it has become such a subliminal value system of its own, that only a person who lives in proximity to such a system can understand the spontaneity and trigger points of the violence.

But the woman reporter, championing for the cause against death penalty adds another interesting dimension to it, from the way she is treated inside the jail to how she carries herself, is in itself a statement of a side-story. She is a parallel hero from the nooks to the city, also belonging to the second sex. The mock over-courteousness of the assistant jailor, the prejudiced attacks of virumaandi, the protectiveness of her colleague are also part of this social reality, documented well.

The parallel narrative trick worked well, especially because it accentuated the well-crafted characterization of pasupathi and kamal and made them the story-tellers. The folk quality of the story-teller intercepting the story with his witticisms and projections is appealing.

The sound overlaps and transitions have also been well-thought and witty. Especially since in such a split narrative style, it is important to tie the ends in an interesting way. The dialogues are also loaded with allusions and hints.

I have always found kamal hasan’s projections of sexuality on screen uncomfortable for very basic aesthetic reasons. I sincerely believe he should learn the art of suggestion; it would increase his romantic appeal if that’s the aspiration as well as save the audience from unrelated awkwardness. But maybe that’s part of the financial indispensability as with the stunt and heroism.

But the way the sound design has been used to create ambience, add detailing to a situation, for transitions, and how music is cleverly intertwined so as not to disturb the flow of the narration is really well-handled.

As for the multifarious issues from land disputes to agriculture to women’s issues, its an open trip for any alert audience.

To quote from kamal swaroop, film-maker: “shoot a movie like a documentary; shoot a documentary like a movie.”


Wednesday, 16 January 2008


Kamal Hassan

If Maniratnam's Aayidha Ezhuthu was about youngsters getting into politics
to make a change, this film, by Kamal Hassan shows us the ACTUAL politics
that goes on in villages.
A reporter researching the death penalty in India is recounted the story
of a farm owner Virumaandi whose role in a clan feud between Naicker and
Kothalla Devar leads him to death row.

A village, where women and land are the main reasons for mindless mayhem,
is the scene of action. Swayed by avarice or anger these are people who
never think twice before they take away a life. They are reckless and
romantic — repercussions rarely come to their mind.

As the story unfolds, there is a riot in the jail, and the only one who
can get the reporter safely out of the prison is Virumaandi.

The film ran into controversy much before its release, because of its
earlier title- "Sandiyar", which is a caste.

Heres a really good review of the film-->


Mani Ratnam

One fateful incident on Napier Bridge in Chennai changes three men's lives forever. Inbashekar is a hitman who has no qualms about doing dirty dealings for money. He is assigned a job to shoot youth leader and student activist Michael, and succeeds on Napier Bridge, while Michael rides by on his motorbike. As Michael falls into the river, Arjun , a young student standing nearby is the sole witness of the incident.

After the attack is shown at the beginning of the film, the plot moves to tell each of the individuals' stories separately, and where the lives of each overlap. The three characters struggle with their own aspirations whilst trying to maintain a balance in their respective love lives. Inbashekar struggles to let go of his lifestyle, encouraged by his brother, despite pleas for change from his wife Sasi . Michael, a passionate student activist works to rally students to participate in fighting corruption in politics, and tries to balance this with a relationship with his playful, gutsy neighbour Geetha. Arjun must decide between studying abroad and shaping a career in America, or forming a long-term relationship with Meera. The structure of the film is loosely based on Amores Perros.

Director's note (from the Madras Talkies website)
Aayitha Ezhuthu - the title of the film came about the last. The character came several years back, based on the life of a student of Osmania University. The research was done, but the structure for the script was not worked out at that point. The germ, however, remained with me for years.

Six weeks into the shoot, the title Aayitha Ezhuthu was finalized.
When something happens around us, be it good or bad, everyone has a way of reacting to it. Some of us see how it can be useful to us. And if we can, we make the best of it and get on.
Some others think that they can step in and help, chip in, contribute, be proactive. They believe in the power of ONE. That each and every individual can make a difference if one puts one?s mind to it.
There are certain others, probably the majority of us, especially in this time and age, that believe that if we take care of ourselves the world will take care of itself.

These three views form Aayitha Ezhuthu.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

RASHOMON, jan 10

For those of you who are still reeling from the aftr-effects of a
psycho-froggy-delic trip(read Om Darbadar), here's an even more
confounding film.


Akira Kurosawa

In 12th century Japan, a samurai and his wife are attacked by the
notorious bandit Tajomaru, and the samurai ends up dead. Tajomaru is
captured shortly afterward and is put on trial, but his story and the
wife's are so completely different that a psychic is brought in to allow
the murdered man to give his own testimony. He tells yet another
completely different story. Finally, a woodcutter who found the body
reveals that he saw the whole thing, and his version is again completely
different from the others.

Who is telling the truth? What is the truth?

Poster by Shreyas R Krishnan

Wednesday, 9 January 2008


Kamal Swaroop
101 mins

Om-Dar-Ba-Dar is a fantastical portrait of life in a mythical small town.
The film tells the story of a young boy called Om in the period of his
carefree adolescence and its harsh disillusionments. Om has a rather
strange family. His father quits his government job to dedicate himself to
astrology, and his older sister is dating a good-for-nothing. Om is
involved in science, but is also attracted to magic and religion. Above
all it seems as if his only outstanding skill is his ability to hold his
breath underwater for a long time.

'Om-Dar-Ba-Dar' has been referred to as an anomaly or accident by the few
who have seen it from within the mainstream Indian film history because of
its progressive cinematic nature.

Kamal Swaroop will be in NID on Friday(Jan 11) for Baatein.
AND, Aditya, the actor who plays the lead role in the film, will be introducing the film.
What fun :D
poster by Arpit Bhargava

Tuesday, 8 January 2008



Intolerance is a  silent film directed by D.W. Griffith. It is considered one of the
great masterpieces of the silent era. It was made in response to critics who
protested against Griffith's previous film, The birth of a nation for
its overt racist content, characterizing racism as people's "intolerance" of
other people's views.

Intolerance was a colossal undertaking filled with monumental sets, lavish
period costumes, and more than 3,000 extras. The film consisted of four
distinct but parallel stories that demonstrated mankind's intolerance
during four different ages in world history. The timeline covered
approximately 2,500 years, beginning with:

The Babylonian period depicts the fall of Babylon as a result of
intolerance arising from a conflict between devotees of different
Babylonian gods.

The Judean era recounts how intolerance led to the crucifixtion of Jesus.

The French Renaissance tells of the failure of the edict of toleration
that led to the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.

Modern America demonstrates how crime, and conflicts between ruthless
capitalists and striking workers helped ruin the lives of Americans.

Each era was shot in a different colour tint.

Actual costs to produce Intolerance are unknown, but best estimates are
close to $2 million (around $33 million in today's dollars), an
astronomical sum in 1916. The movie was by far the most expensive made at
that point.

Poster by Shreyas R Krishnan

Thursday, 3 January 2008


Amitabh Chakraborty

Bishar Blues travels across the West Bengal countryside on the trail of
the Islamic fakir who walks the path of Marfat. In Islam the Shariat laws
organize the physical world, ethics…The Marfat is the hidden knowledge,
the goal is to free oneself from the physical, the ascetic way.

The fakirs all agree on Allah, Mohammed, the Prophet and the Koran. But
then they go on to freely interpret Allah, Mohammed and the Koran, also
the relationship between these three, creating a multi-textured mythology
of Islam without the official sanction of any centralized authority. Every
individual fakir gives his own twist to the tale. The variations are
endless yielding to the notion that Man himself is the ultimate mythology.
Knowing oneself is knowing god.

"Today as I look around at my global environment, I feel suffocated by
the images of Islam that bombard me – the 9/11 New York Twin Tower
bombings, the Afganisthan bombings, the Iraq bombings, the 7/7 London
bombings, the bombings in Mumbai, Osama Bin Laden, undemocratic rigid
theologians….. Where was the human individual who practiced simple faith?

I bumped into the Bengali fakir in his own land and he made me think.

In the fakirs I recognized the human individual as the supreme arbitrator
of his own destiny. The system bends and veers along. Separate individuals
create numerous variables and keep the system open ended. The fakirs keep
Islam open ended. I threw in my lot with them. I made my film."

-Amitabh Chakraborty

About the director:

Amitabh Chakraborty has a Post Graduate Diploma in Film Editing from
FTII, Pune.

\ In 1990 he produced and directed a feature film ‘KAAL ABHIRATI’ it was
awarded the Special Jury Award at the National Film Festival, New
\ In 1995 he directed a video documentary four part series on the folk art
forms of West Bengal .
\ In 1996 he directed the documentary ‘KITSCH-MITSCH’ on the painter Hiran Mitra
which was screened at MIFF.
\ In 2006 he directed and Produced ‘BISHAR BLUES’ a feature length
documentary on the Islamic Fakirs of Bengal, India.
\ 2007 Work in Progress – Directing and coproducing ‘COSMIC SEX –A DIALOGUE
WITH GANDHI’ a documentary feature for Steps India International.

poster- Shreyas R Krishnan(


RObert Bresson

Michel is an inscrutable young man - neatly dressed, mild mannered,
intelligent - hardly the type whom one would suspect to be a pickpocket.
And perhaps, that is reason that he does it.

Robert Bresson's Pickpocket is a well crafted, austere, and taut film of a man
driven by his self-destructive compulsion.

This month JAN 2008

Happy new year!!

Here's the schedule for Jan 2008. This month we're screening films that use parallel narratives... exciting i must say :)

1 }PICKPOCKET robert bresson
3 }BISHAR BLUES amitabh chakraborty
8 }INTOLERANCE d.w.griffith
10 }RASHOMON akira kurosawa
15 }AYDHA EZHUTHU mani ratnam
17 }VIRUMANDI kamal hassan
22 }BLIND CHANCE krzysztof kieslowski
24 }HARVIE KRUMPET adam elliot
29 }STAY mark forester
31 }ELEPHANT gus van sant

:D :D