Tag Archives: cinema

“Haider” – Hamlet in Kashmir: Suhas Munshi

This is a guest post by SUHAS MUNSHI

The challenge of telling stories of a conflict is its victims. Each, traumatized in their own way, needs their own story. The narrator is bound to fail not only those he didn’t include but those who didn’t see their stories recreated faithfully. Had Basharat Peer set himself the task of faithfully adapting the violence done to Kashmiris he would have had to script a pornographic narrative for the screen. Some of the bile directed at him from Kashmiris comes from a dissatisfaction of not depicting the true extent of the brutality of the Indian army and rendering its casualties adequately pitiful. An opinion piece written on the movie in ‘The Parallel Post’ titled ‘Setting the wrong precedent’ condemns torture scenes in the movie as having actually undermined the actual extent of army atrocity in Kashmir. The piece goes on to say, ‘army excesses wane out by the time movie reaches its climax.’

However, the only service that a story teller from Kashmir could do to art and to humanity is to depict the people living there, especially the victims, as humans; as people, just as they are found anywhere else in the world, and not continue to peddle the cliché of the valley being a dehumanized pastoral paradise. Accusations of betrayal, conceit and condescension are being hurled at Basharat Peer, the writer, when he has got, for the first time ever, the words ‘plebiscite’, ‘half-widows’ and the rousing call of ‘Azadi’ in a script, through a movie, on mainstream cinema. Continue reading “Haider” – Hamlet in Kashmir: Suhas Munshi

Old Films: Habib Tanvir

This is an excerpt from HABIB TANVIR’s Memoirs, translated by MAHMOOD FAROOQUI, to be released this evening 7 pm at the India Habitat Centre in Delhi.

1-habib-t-mahmood-cover
Memoirs by Habib Tanvir, translated by Mahmood Farooqui, Penguin Viking, Delhi, 2013; Rs. 599, pp. 400

First of all there was the bioscope. A woman wearing ghaghra and choli would roam around from mohalla to mohalla calling out to the children and gathering them at a chowk or in large courtyard, would take out a long stool from her arm pit and place it on the ground, would remove an octangular and muddy looking tin box from her head and place it on top which had a small mouth covered by a black cloth which the child would remove and peer inside. The women usually came from Rajasthan. The box would contain ten or fifteen cards of photographs, she would show them one after the other and also introduce them in a particular musical speech, ‘see the Rauza of Taj Bibi, see the Lal Qila of Dilli…etc.’ At one time only one child could see the pictures, which would be projected through a lens and lit up through a bulb inside the box which would make the photographs appear larger and more dramatic. When one child was through another would take his place. A large and restive crowd of children would be gathered around waiting their turn. Even the elders would be eager to see Hindustan through these pictures. She would charge two to three chhedams from everyone who took a peep. When the show was over, she would hawk her way to another mohalla. Continue reading Old Films: Habib Tanvir

Tagore in film


That is a clip from The Postmaster (the first story in Teen Kanya, directed by Satyajit Ray).

Trisha Gupta on Tagore’s characters, seen better in films than in English translation:

In film after film, we see events through the eyes of the educated Bengali man trying to deal with a world that has either changed too much—or too little. The protagonist is often a young man from the city who arrives at a small provincial outpost, armed with a modern Western education and little else, his head full of glimpses of another world that seem only to succeed in cutting him off from everything around him. Continue reading Tagore in film

A Circus, Some Laughter, A Film Festival

I would be very reluctant to call the recently – concluded Twelfth International Film Festival of Kerala (7-14 December) a ‘circus’, but well. When the CPM in Kerala wears Caesar-like accoutrements, one may have to call it just that! At the press conference organized a few days before the festival – actually the day on which Buddhadev admitted to his ‘mistake’ — M A Baby, CPM intellectual and Minister, Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala spoke at length about how Lenin and other worthies of the Soviet Union had endorsed cinema as a medium to ‘educate and entertain’ the masses. However when he announced the name of the opening film after many such lofty words, ripples of laughter filled the hall.

hana makhmalbaf with baby

The opening film was Hana Makhmalbaf’s ‘Buddha Collapsed out of Shame’! Of course, the CPM intellectuals could not laugh; nor could they snap at back-benchers who asked whether it wasn’t ‘Buddhadev Collapsed out of Shame’. Thus it was clear, that despite the circuses, the spectre of the people continues to haunt the CPM, to borrow Partho Sarathi Ray’s words.

Continue reading A Circus, Some Laughter, A Film Festival