Month: January 2008

SHOT CUT

Lights… camera… and lots of action. Delhi’s growing tribe of young film-makers are ‘calling the shots,’ scripting their success stories behind the camera. From fiction to documentaries, these directors are adding a new dimension to the medium with their fresh approaches, experimentation and alternate ways of ‘looking at the realities around’.

REEL ISSUES

For many of these amateur as well professional passionate practitioners of the craft, it entails zooming in on a lot of social, economic, political, cultural and environmental issues. Traversing a journey from real to the reel while their documentaries bring to the fore ‘issues that matter,’ fiction enables them to explore their creative potential. The latter gives them an opportunity to bring their distinct ‘cinematic sensibility’ on the screen and redefine the art of storytelling.
Shilpika, 25, is a PG in Journalism and Mass Communication from Meerut University. She has been making serials, fashion and corporate films for the last six months. The journalist-turned-filmmaker feels that the nature of television programming is such that one doesn’t get to explore one’s creativity, which ultimately impinges on the quality. “In the constant clamour for breaking news, creativity and quality go for a toss. Film-making is an art and doesn’t just entail playing with the camera. The medium demands hard work and visualisation,” holds Shilpika.
Thirty-two-year-old Neela Venkatraman has made a series of films on Kashmir. “While the core thread is peace in Kashmir, the other five films in the series individually deal with its different aspects like Kashmiriyat.
The Delhi-based film-maker, a PG from Mumbai’s Xavier Institute of Communications, explains that making a documentary and short film is a different ballgame altogether as one has to tread the ‘middle path’.

RAISON D’ÊTRE
Cut to the reasons for the increase in the youth brigade taking up film-making. “There are certain factors which have led to this. While money is certainly the reason, a quest for an exposure to one’s mental level and creative satisfaction are some other important aspects,” argues Shilpika.
According to the young film-maker, we are on the verge of a changing generation which thinks differently. “The GenNext has a different perception towards issues like the generation gaps, gay relationship, extra-marital affairs, live-in, et all. Through films, they want to strike a balance between the two generations, exploring the positive sides of these social issues,” adds Shilpika. She holds that while fiction enables them to talk about serious issues with certain creative liberties, documentaries are a result of the inspiration we draw from the world to create something with the realities around.

TECH THAT
Talk of tech as a tool and many agree that the breakthroughs in technology have made it all possible for amateur film-makers to make their mark. The digital revolution has certainly helped trigger the interest in the medium, opening a channel of choices for those keen to enter the world of light, camera and action.
“Now, one can make a film even with a cellphone. While there can be denying the role of technology, there are many who think that it is just an additional tool. “If you have it in you, you have it in you. And the art is bound to surface sooner or later,” holds Shilpika.

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POLITICALLY CORE-ACT

An interview with Nayantara Sahgal

Q. There is so much to talk about. Where do I begin?

(Laughs) Let’s begin at the begining.

Q. All right. Let me take you a little back in time and ask you about your early years at Anand Bhavan. What did you make out of the political discourses and deliberations of the time much of which were to decide the nation’s destiny?

The sole objective of the leaders involved in the national movement was freedom. They were trying to reach out to the countryside and involve people from the grassroot in the struggle which had both social and economic aspects. I remember how leaders from Purushottam Das Tandon to Maulana Azad used to drop in at our house.
They were, however, just visitors to me. At that time, I wasn’t aware of the ways in which their discussions could determine the nation’s course. I knew, however, that their worlds revolved around the objective of freedom.

Q. And going to the prison was a part of life…

Yes. It resulted into a great deal of separation as my father too was jailed. Though it was hard to deal with it, we eventually got used to that way of living. One was taught to be stoic and never let the police see us cry. It was imbibed in us that going to the prison was a matter of honour and pride and we all looked forward to be put behind bars when we grew up.

Q. How much did these incidents and happenings shape your own political consciousness?

The fight for freedom created a whole ambience in the household. It was out of a purely unselfish motive that these leaders fought for the nation. And there was a great comradeship among them.

Q. Your characters, particularly women, seem to grapple with the rival waves of tradition and modernity, trying to assert their identity. Did it echoe the changing times?

In the sixties, modernity had a singular Western connotation. Everything was seen through the Western lens. I didn’t make a conscious decision to be a writer. My choice of the subject matter was a reflection of the huge interest in the end of the empire. The sun of the colonial system was setting and my first novel tocuhed a chord. It did well and from then on I wrote what I felt I had to. I had no apprehensions weighing me down that it won’t be accepted. I wrote out of an involvement with the country that was emerging, about issues that I felt were crucial in the making of the modern India.

Q. All your novels are characterised by their quintessential political backdrop.

That again was something that eventually happened. Initially, they didn’t come that way. The political landscape was my material. And I wrote with such a backdrop because all authors write about things that surround and trigger them.

Q. How did your uncle Jawahar Lal Nehru’s ideals and writings influence you?

He was not just there as an elder. He was like another parent t o me. He was an educator by an instinct and wrote wonderful letters from jail. He used to guide me with what books to read and I can’t ever pay the debt.

Q. How connected have you felt with India?

I had a powerful belonging to India and never taken a second thoughts that I belong to any other country. There was a cross-cultural framework in our westernised family. We discussed world history at our drawing tables and felt like we were part of the wider world. I am deeply rooted in the Indian soil and have never wanted to live anywhere else. I have written all my books from that passion for the country, from a certain idea of India.

Q. What are the contemporary realities that disturb you as an author?

I am disturbed by the unequal progress of the country as a result of globalisation. The rising disparity and the attitude towards women worry me a lot. Rape looks like a national sport and the idea of equality has suffered a huge blow in many ways. The rampant cases of female foeticide is an horrifying indication of how we value women in our society.