In life, there are a very few things that we can truly call eternal. I’ve realised that this portrait of my mother is one of them. Although she left this mortal realm on the 2nd of August, we know that she lives on and guides us through her music and memories.
Contrary to the popular opinion of prioritising academics and stability over a life of artistic pursuit, my mother enabled me and my brother to make choices that empowered and challenged us because we all have only this one life. Even though she had become a single parent when my father passed away,she was just only 37 years old, she still didn’t use this situation to emotionally blackmail me into using my good academic record to design a conventional life for us and our family.
It was only in the second year that we got a chance to shoot on film. I remember my shot in the motion picture exposure practical exercise and it was a panning shot of somebody going into a building.
It was a bright day and the iris was cut down to f/22. I could barely see anything and some one shouted ‘start camera’. I was so nervous. The Arri 2c camera came alive – black and white film squeezing though the gears. Before I could get my bearings the shot was over. I wasn’t prepared for the flicker that I saw through the eyepiece. I thought my camera was faulty. My first shot in cinema was going to be wobbly. I had to wait for a week to see the results on screen.
I heaved sigh of relief when my shot came on screen. There it was – crystal clear with no flicker.
India is the world’s largest democracy, but it is also a very unequal country, where some citizens are more equal than others. Convicted criminals, who are rich and powerful, seem to get out of jail well before their sentences have been completed. This is in sharp contrast to the lives of thousands of under trails languishing in jails not having access to a lawyer or even getting a chance for a fair trial. However, in the darkened “Halls of Cinema”, Good always wins over Evil and the Long Arm of the Law would eventually catch up with the criminals.
How does the film industry view crime and punishment? How do they represent it in their work? How do they deal with the law when one of their own is the accused?
I walked out of the theatre after watching “Wonder Woman” feeling a complete sense of empowerment and self-belief that I can take on the world. I can’t remember feeling invincible or this elated after any film that I have seen and this is one of the reasons why this film is a global blockbuster success. Grossing $572 million worldwide it has set records for the biggest opening for a female-centric film. Superhero movies so far empowered only half the world’s population. Patty Jenkins, the first woman director of a studio super-heroine movie, empowers the other half.
When I first heard the title, I thought it was corny, expecting the film to just be a male version of “Superman”. I have never been a fan of superhero movies despite subjecting myself to several versions of “Superman”, “Batman” and “Spiderman”, more to humour my spouse than for my own interest. The worlds these movies inhabited were artificial to me and I could never suspend my disbelief enough to buy into these characters. I marvelled only slightly at the special effects and never got involved in the action sequences knowing fully-well who was going to be the victor at the end. But it was magical to feel the goose bumps on my skin and the rush of blood as I watched Diana (Gal Gadot), Princess of the Amazons take on the various men who tried to stop her.
When Rajiv and I were preparing to shoot Kadal, we saw lot of films which involved shooting in the sea. Very few Indian films were shot in the sea, but one film which caught our attention was Chemmeen, based on the famous book by Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, directed by Ramu Kariat and shot by Marcus Bartley the legend. It is still a classic and even today, some of the shots take your breath away.
I watched “Rogue One” in 3D last night with all its spectacular special effects, animated characters and breathtaking visuals. While I wouldn’t say it is the best of the Star Wars series, what impressed me was the way the female protagonist (Jyn) held the whole story together. This is a mainstream Hollywood, big- budget action film targeting a worldwide audience yet they chose to cast a young, relatively unknown actress to play a strong, brave and inspiring character with the mission to save her planet. Threatened by being annihilated by the Death Star – a weapon capable of apocalyptic destruction forcibly created by her kidnapped father – she is unafraid to go on this dangerous mission alone.
Although Jyn is accompanied by a male rebel commander, she deftly wields her weapon to destroy the inhuman storm troopers who come in her way. She inspires the scared allies to join her fight and gains the trust of the commander sent to kill her father, who relents due to her integrity. However, Jyn is not cold and emotionless. She does have a feminine, sentimental and loving side when she is briefly reunited with her father. She feels affection for the commander accompanying her on her mission and risks her own life to save a helpless child caught in the crossfire. In the climax, she boldly faces the antagonist on her own and completes her mission although sacrificing her life for the cause.
The concept of using miniatures in cinema to create an illusion of a real object has existed since the inception of filmmaking.
When circumstances do not allow us to carry out shoots in real locations with real objects, it necessitates the scenario of miniature shooting. It may be due to technical reasons, safety restrictions, economics of production, time constraints, or the non availability of the actual object or location.
Requirement for miniature shooting continues to be relevant even today for most of the CG works like compositing with graphics and real objects.
As a child my first impression of English films was seeing Mackenna’s Gold, a big budget western film, where cowboys went looking for the mountain of gold and got corrupted and died by its lure. I was fascinated by Cowboys, read cowboy comics, tied a handkerchief around my neck galloped around my house waiting to lasso a wild horse. Since I used to live in a flat in Bombay, I could only lasso, the carpet that was rolled and kept under our divan, which would be spread out when visitors came in the evening. How did the image of the cowboy and westerns come to dominate world cinema, how did this uniquely American invention become one of the great cultural exports of America?
Isn’t the Eiffel Tower symbolic of the ever-romantic Paris? Or is the clock tower of Westminster, the only symbol of London and British sophistication? In Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, The Statue of Liberty in New York is shown as a beacon of welcoming immigrants into the Unites States of America.
How many times in American films have you seen the typical opening shot of an automobile crossing a bridge and then the car coming to a halt, in a suburban neighbourhood and the protagonist coming out of the car and getting into the house? The Great American obsession for the automobiles and their cities results in shots that have become visual clichés. The establishing long shots in films are not just images representing a location; they also set the mood of the film. Some shots rise above the ordinary, like the Brooklyn Bridge and the two lovers seated below in Woody Allen’s Manhattan – a truly classic Long shot.