Sunday, January 8, 2017

Behind the seen

Cinema is an art form. Isn't that something we keep forgetting again and again? Too many gimmicks—ah, that's called marketing—can do that to almost anything. If you peel off the box office records, star fees, media shenanigans and other such worldly facets, cinema is bare and deceptive. All art forms are meant to delude us. Films are no different. Its ultimate purpose is to engage with strangers whom the filmmakers will never get to meet or know. That's the set canvas, be it for a stand-up comic who forces out laughter in the room or an Adele who commands silence when she performs. Audience is the ultimate common ground. Without an audience, there is no art. The tricky part being art is open to (mis)interpretations. Leonardo da Vinci might have spent 15 years at perfecting Mona Lisa but the world today is fascinated by her mysterious smile. Was this his original intention? We'll never know. What we know for sure—at least i do—is life remains meaningless no matter what. Being alive is like distracting a baby to make sure it doesn't get bored and cry. Art is the much-needed distraction here. However, the construct of cinema is unique not only because it's undoubtedly the most expensive art form out there but also because it involves so many people in its upbringing that you begin to wonder where cinema ends and reality begins. 

To help you break down this construct, let me list out a few inalienable truths about cinema:
  • When you visit a cinema hall, you believe that drama is happening on the screen. You can't be wronger. The real drama is happening on the opposite side of the screen; the side where people are munching overpriced popcorns and slurping sugar-drinks. Like you and me. We are the ones who got tricked into laughing, weeping, singing, dancing, screaming... along with the movie. Those on the big screen are cold professionals who know exactly what they are doing. Unlike you and me. 
  • A naive way of decoding cinema is to say that they put you in a dark room and rob you blind. Well, nobody held a gun to your head. And there can't be a greater metaphor for enlightenment when you are exposed to some never-seen-before realities in a given movie while you continue to remain hidden in the darkness of the crowd.
  • Once you settle in that comfy chair, it doesn't matter whether the movie is praise-all or fuck-all. You already lost the battle at the ticket counter.
  • The director is the first one to watch the movie. Even before it's made. There's no suspense in there for them. S/he somehow go through the routine of converting their vision into a reality. Challenging? Always. Boring? Maybe.
  • Light might be faster than sound but horror movies scare you because of aural reasons. It's the deep frightening sounds that make a film scary. The visuals play a significantly lighter role.
  • We'll never know why European (non-Anglophone) filmmakers are prone to playing obscure English songs in their movies.
  • We'll never know why beautiful stories get marauded by studios in their lame attempt at making locals speak accented English instead of shooting the film in the local language.
  • Like most art forms, cinema has unbearable masculinity sketched all over it. So much so even the words used in filmmaking have a bellicose tone: cut, shoot, action... as if a war is going on!
  • It will strike you sooner or later that the highest rated film on IMDb, The Shawshank Redemption (1994), basically has an all-male cast.
  • The masters of cinema are divided into two camps: those who love tea and those who can't do without coffee. You'll seldom come across somebody who doesn't belong to either or someone who has switched camps. 
  • The masters of cinema are nowhere to be found on Twitter. 
  • It's arrogant, if not stupid, of you to assume that you can understand a film in just one sitting. A process that took months, if not years, to condense into a (hourly) format merits a second sitting. Or even third.
  • Korean movies are best served raw.
  • Iranian movies are best served sincere. 
  • You must have heard how Hindi film industry is a safe haven for money laundering. Guess what? The same is true for Hollywood. The guy who hugely funded The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) is a major fraud in the finance world—how apt! There's no such a thing as clean money in cinema unless you are an independent filmmaker who has mortgaged his house.
  • Bollywood superstars (with the exception of Aamir Khan) face a strange dilemma: they can't afford to break their onscreen mould lest their fans denounce them. 
  • You can't watch a movie and then refuse to call yourself a voyeur. Nope.
  • Without writers, there is nothing on the table. Still, writers were rarely appreciated for their good work. So, over the past decade, we witnessed a chunk of these goodfellas move en masse to the television. Now, they are not only appreciated but also paid handsomely.
  • Those who prefer the front seats want to be the first to watch the movie in the cinema hall. Nothing else can explain that lingering stress in their nape. 
  • You may have never heard of Tarkvosky or his masterpieces but the finest filmmakers of our time have. And that's not it. A majority of them regard him as their ultimate inspiration. 
  • Genres are for textbooks. Everybody is capable of enjoying all kinds of cinema. Just that we don't take THAT risk. 
  • The nicest bit about cinema is it lets you judge it, not the other way round.
  • You may have watched a movie a hundred times and may even remember all the dialogues by heart but here's the thing: if you miss the hidden symbols, which are mostly visual, you are missing the whole point.
  • Cinema doesn't have a language as such but subtitles surely help.
  • Expecting cinema to usher in change in our wretched society is a lot like hoping God to show up during the interval.

2 comments:

PRAKASH SHARMA said...

That trivia about Shawshank redemption is amazing.

PRAKASH SHARMA said...

It's wrong shakti the Shawshank redemption also has a female actress who is playing a role of that brilliant prisoner who is actually a hero of movie