On representation in Cinema (Bollywood)

Was having a discussion with some colleagues on the shifts in Indian (Mumbai / Bollywood) cinema. One asserted that we’ve seen much experimentation and avant-garde film-making in recent times. I feel that there’s only two kinds of movies that have been made in Bollywood, in the past decade, over and over (barring a few exceptions):

1. Micro-narrative escapism – small-town people (or their kids) go to big city, get into business / find love, find opposition, show dedication, overcome, succeed.

2. Gritty realism – small-town people (or their kids) go to big city, get into shady business / find forbidden love, show dedication, do something stupid, everyone dies.

Not really original so much as it is the shift in “who” can now make a movie.

Where earlier you needed to be part of a particular elite supported by either big-name stars or the shadier financiers of Bollywood cinema, Mumbai saw a shift about 10 years ago, after a spate of extortion-related crime and killings that also saw the “professionalization” of Bollywood. You could now borrow money from banks to produce films. You could have professional investors and studios like Star (Fox) or UTV produce your film, etc. Which meant different people with different stories could now make movies.

So where almost everything before 2000 representing one form of values, “paid for” by the richest .5%, the stuff since then is “paid for” by maybe the richest 10% – the “new” narratives represent a “newness” in the demographic making the movie, not new kinds of “creativity” or new kinds of “stories”.


Had written this for another site long ago; had been lying in my drafts section, figured I’d publish it.L’Annie derniere — MarienbadL’Annie derniere – Marienbad (Last year at Marienbad) is one of those exquisite New Wave films that utilized the concept of the Stream of Consciousness. It follows the attempts of one character, a man (we never find their true names) trying to convince another, a married woman, that they met the year before at Marienbad, or maybe Frederiksbad, and planned on eloping this year. The year is in doubt, as is the location, as are the identities, memories, and the story itself. Masterfully executed with a screenplay that holds your complete attention, and visual movements and devices to further aid the fluid process of the interaction of memories, this is a must watch film.Dr.Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the BombKubrick has never truly been credited enough for his contribution to Cinema. Dr. Strangelove tells the story of a deranged Scientist who plots a nuclear Armageddon in order to stop the Communists “stealing precious bodily fluids”. It is perhaps the most hilarious end-of-the-World movie you will ever see. The film is all the more brilliant because of the time when it was made – at the beginning of the Cold War era, when the hawks we see in the film would have been more the norm than the exception. Kubrick’s efforts are often overlooked by the better known New Wave artists when it comes to the proponents of the renowned Theater of the Absurd. His combination of visual artistry, a flair for fluid screenplay, and biting cynicism inspired by Nietzsche and the existentialists can be compared perhaps, only with Jean-Luc Godard in cinematic history.WeekendThose who are acquainted with Godard’s work will know that he is usually rather angry, or rather, pissed off. There is an even sharper edge to the bleeding cynicism inherent in his commentary in Weekend. What is Weekend about? The film follows the journey of a married couple through the country side. It also happens to critique bourgeoisie society, the counter-culture, cannibalism, sex, adultery, consumerism and Cinema as a medium itself, all at onego. “What a rotten movie. All we meet are crazy people” says the husband at one point. Communists, capitalists, fascists and psychotherapists… no one is really spared in this film, and it is certainly one of the best (if not the best) films ever made, and certainly a leader in the New Wave.

c h a o t i c . s y m p h o n y

“… after he reached the age of fifty, Velaquez no longer painted anything concrete and precise. He drifted through the material world, penetrating it, as the air and the dusk. In the shimmering of the shadows, he caught unawares the nuances of colour which he transformed into the invisible heart of his symphony of silence…His only experience of the world was those mysterious copulations which united the forms and tones with a secret, but inevitable movement, which no convulsion or cataclysm could ever interrupt or impede. Space reigned supreme…It was as if some tenuous radiation gliding over the surfaces, imbued itself of their visible emanations, modeling them and endowing them with form, carrying elsewhere a perfume, like an echo, which would thus be dispersed like an imponderable dusk, over all surrounding planes …”

– Ferdinand Griffon (Jean-Paul Belmondo), Pierrot le fou

on the Code

finally got down to watching the film today; and i have to say that every critical review i’ve seen of it is absolute rubbish.

the film is well made, as the book was well-written–both the book and the film do exceedingly well for the audiences they are aimed at; which is the barometer for the success or failure of either–and both hold their own well.

you don’t even have to have read the book to watch the film–the director certainly does his best to help the viewer out, while not giving them everything. of course, you will appreciate the cues in the movie relating to the book much more; and the scope of achievement in making the film if you’ve read the book. it really is a good film

go watch it, and have fun! :)


“We inhabit a world of intersecting secrecies. We live and die at the places where those secrecies meet. That is what we accept… hmm? We buy information for you from your enemies. They sell it. You are not the only people looking for names.”
> “You’re telling me I’m being hunted now?”
> “He’s telling you it’s time for you to quit.”
“The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong. But time and chance happens to them all. Evil falls suddenly. Who can say when it falls?”

– “Papa”, Munich