Showing posts with the label Films- sociological historical and pedagogic possibilities.

Dipping into the anthropology of Kantara…

  I took my time to watch Kantara, thanks to its release last week on OTT platform. While the world was profuse in its encomiums, I couldn’t say much till I had viewed the film and it took a while for various facets of the film to register. While the plot of the film is rather well known, its implications and import is rather subtle even as the narrative and idiom may be rather on your face. I also don’t claim to have studied Malnad’s culture in any depth but base my views on certain anthropological ‘common sense’.  Set in Malnad Karnataka’s lush and bucolic environ, the Bhuta Kola ritual is primed to be the film’s pivot. Among other things of any ritual, the Bhuta Kola ritual is apparently one of a ‘collective’ bringing all and sundry communities irrespective of caste, class, gender and status (caste) into it. The boar ( Panjurli ) is representative of the forest spirit and an all pervading one where both an individual’s and communities well being, their current miseries, future anx

Gully Boy - flawed pedagogy on talent, success and its mistaken subalternity

Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy is probably one of those rare Bollywood offering that has had both the masses and classes cheering and rooting for it. While we can leave out the masses and the film's box office performance for the moment, does the film really add much more to scratch as it is being made out by some critics? Encomiums for the film has emerged even from more left leaning news media sites i.e. The Scroll, The Wire and Huffington Post who all had very positive reviews. I was finally nudged to view the film when the more academic EPW too carried a piece, effusive of the film's supposed less than formulaic rendering of subaltern dreams. The plot and premise of the film, I avoid going into here which one safely assumes is well known by now. When I came out of the packed multiplex, I was quite overcome with a sense of ambiguity and confusion. While the crowd probably was not dished a Salman Khan trash or Karan Johar’s shameless celebration of affluence, but then I wonde

Social conflict and Hindi cinema – a plea for resurrection of art and the politics of the possible

In recent years within the confines of what one sees as mainstream cinema there has been certain crop of Hindi films which have attempted to explore the seamier and often grisly side of our social existence – the world of crime, the underworld, violence, life on the margins, of the disenfranchised and the likes. Movies like Kaminey, Shanghai, Haider, Shor in the City, NH-10, comes to mind. What actually is seen distinguishing these films perhaps is not as much the themes (life of crime for example in itself has been de jure staple of popular Hindi cinema along with romance) but the treatment. Shorn of melodrama, crassness and kitschy sentimentality, many find certain refreshing use of film grammar even as they retain certain nativity (songs for instance like in Kaminey, Shor in the City or Haider). Many see in these films certain ‘realism’, where any gloss and glamour if present are viewed as more symbolic or metaphorical to build a plausible narrative – best exemplified in NH 10. I

Stanley ka Dabba...warm, succulent, wholesome...BUT yet...

We don’t really come across many “children films” in India.   I believe it was S S Vasan, the old doyen of south Indian cinema and founder of Gemini studios, who once remarked that there cannot be any children’s films.   For children enjoy what we as adults enjoy and perhaps enjoy more. So an average MGR film or a Rajkumar film is as much a children’s film as they are a film for an adult.  For even if we seek to define a children’s film as a film which has a child or children as its protagonists, would Louise Malle’s Goodbye, Children , a film about a bunch of school kids in world II France be characterized as an children’s film? It would be more appropriate to refer it as an anti-war film. Similarly Vittorio de Seca’s Bicycle Theives which explores through its neo-realism the working class world of post war Italy with a child as one of its central characters can hardly be seen as a children’s film.   But let us not get into such definitions and conceptualizations of wh