Mdeii Life - Anand Krishnamoorthi's blog
Sunday, August 31, 2003
Even if imitation is the best form of flattery, I�m not impressed. Can I sue these guys?
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
As big as it gets... I see it now.
To Bombay with love
Tragic to see Bombay struck like this again. It brings a chill to my spine to think that not too long ago, I was standing at the very spots where the bombs have now gone off. Here are some of the pictures from my days at Bombay. This is my dedication to a great city.
Sunday, August 24, 2003
Edgar Allan Poe
One more mad genius...!
8�, and on DVD
I saw it for the first time in a brightly lit room on a 21-inch TV trying desperately not to miss the subtitles at the bottom of the screen and found the movie confusing. I then saw it again, after drawing all the curtains; absorbing the vision of Fellini, and boy: it became one of the most profound films I have seen. The DVD from Cinema Paradiso (incidentally, a very good video parlour) was in pristine condition. And I have to thank Rohini for renting it out for me. If you want to watch 8� on DVD, get the Criterion Collection�s Double Disk Set. Gianni di Venanzo, the cinematographer, would definitely be pleased. There is also two documentaries: one by Fellini himself, and another on the genius of Nino Rota. Don�t miss Sandra Milo�s interview and the booklet that comes with the disks.
Usually, when one watches the �special features� on a DVD, it gives an extra dimension to the film�s understanding, but in the case of 8�, the interview�s, commentaries etc., were extensions of the film itself: watch the movie to know what I�m talking about. So is the DVD the best format for the film to be experienced fully? Fellini definitely intended it for the big screen.
That brings me to Fellini himself. Usually I find it very easy to identify some thing in every filmmaker that I find in myself. This very �mirroring� achieved in 8�, makes the movie more valuable to me personally. Fellini (from what I infer from the extra features on the DVD) is someone I would eventually become if some small things in my life had been different. But I am what I have been made into; I definitely would not become Frederico/Mastroianni/Guido, precisely because I have seen what had made them, and those are not the things that have made me. Yet, I identify with them so much; maybe because inside, we are all the same; circumstances have made each of us different and special in our own ways.
My own memories help strike a chord here. Once in school when I had no script and a play had to go up within a few days, we got together and in desperation put up a play about us trying to put up a play with disastrous results: it was a hit. That was really a long time ago and I did not know anything about films, life or 8� then. Now I know more about my play.
Friday, August 22, 2003
This post concerns just that: translations. Not just from one language to another, but from one medium to another. Any story can be assumed to have two aspects: form and content. When translating from one medium/language to another, only the latter is translated; as the form is intrinsic to the specific medium.
The thing about classics is that, unless we have access to both the original (in language and medium) and the translation, one cannot be sure if something is a good translation or not; i.e. does the translation do justice to the original.
Some works of art are said to have �achieved their form�. This means that they take their value not only from what they convey (the content), but also from how they are conveyed (the form/medium/language). Therefore, can that kind of art be really translated?
I myself aspire to be a filmmaker. There have been a thousand books, plays, and poems etc. that have been translated into films. If these films have to be considered as works of art, they have to justify the medium, as the content is already �art�. They have to add something that is unique to the new language. Another point here is that translations are also art: there is never pure art; in fact the best art is �inspired�.
The form-content dualism is a reasonably good way of identifying what can be translated and what cannot. Then there are those that are untranslatable. There are poems that lose meaning when translated, even if read/listened to in the wrong context. There are works of art that are pure language, pure form. I want to make a film that is pure cinema: untranslatable. This means that it cannot even have a written script. Pure cinema would mean nonsense read or heard. Scriptwriters would know this. There are some scenes that have to go straight from the head into celluloid: making no sense on paper.
Ok! Where did all this proto-philosophising start? I am a stuck-up reader, wishing to translate every book I read into a script. I am a stuck-up person who wishes to translate every life experience into a film. I came across some things that cannot be. I am humbled!
For any storyteller, The Odyssey is excellent material to go to work on. As a book in itself, Robert Fitzgerald�s translation of The Odyssey is a true classic. It is much more fluid in form and content compared to The Iliad (also translated by R.F.).
Thursday, August 21, 2003
Fellini, Homer and Edgar Allan Poe
All lined up for the weekend!
The essence of a good student-teacher relationship is that initially, the teacher knows more than the student, but in the end, the student should better the teacher. Strangely, in order to achieve the initial requisite imbalance, I find that teachers insist that their students know lesser than themselves: this, instead of the teachers trying to know more. The funnier thing is that most teachers I now see, seem to be wary and even threatened by their students� abilities, that they start asserting their �power�. Long ago when we were kids we were taught a poem that said that knowledge is the only thing that does not lessen, but instead grows when it is given away. But I guess most people don�t realise that, and are hesitant to share what they know.
Blaster, exams, assignments... blame them all. And they�re all still there!
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
According to Part III Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India...
Today we had an examination on Media Laws. For the past few days, I�ve hassled myself with the verbosity of the Indian Constitution.
Article 105 Powers, Privileges, etc., of the Houses of Parliament and of the members and committees thereof
(1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution and to the rules and standing orders regulating the procedure of Parliament, there shall be freedom of speech in Parliament.
(2) No Member of Parliament shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him in Parliament or any committee thereof, and no person shall be so liable in respect of the publication by or under the authority of either House of Parliament of any report, paper, votes or proceedings.
I have also come to believe that it is one of the most complex of constitutions in the World. If one were to conduct a very brief Semiotic Analysis of the Constitution of India, outright, one would find it sexist and highly defensive.
Despite it being wordy and confusing for anybody outside the strictly purposive world of legal study, the language, for some strange reason, seems endearingly old-time and clerical to me (That�s a typical sentence). For all its water-tightness and lack of style, all the stuff I tried to read, passed through MSOffice grammar check without a hitch!:)
So this 15th, celebrate by Blogging something about India; and don�t forget to send me a link to that post.
Sunday, August 10, 2003
This is one of the most satisfying �sci-fi-special-effects� movies I have seen since Jurassic Park. Of late, there have been so many bad, costly, comic-book CGI flops. I believe, like many other reviewers, that The Hulk owes its success to the fact that this is a �director�s movie�. It retains its comic book feel, with some amazing set-piece sequences; but its real strength has been Ang Lee�s treatment. And the guys at ILM have really kicked ass.
Spoiler: A funny thing is that, almost always, the noblest thing for an American hermit superhero to do would be to go to South America as a doctor and fight for the natives.
Monday, August 04, 2003
Tale of two movies
Today I saw two very different movies and both of them hits in their own rights. Andha Naal was an excellent movie, not just for its interesting plotline or impressive script and acting; it�s close to genius filmmaking. From the shot selection to the editing, it was oozing with perfection and disciplined storytelling.
That was on afternoon television. The other film I saw today was in a reasonably crowded theatre. Jeyam must be seen in a theatre. Here I have a confession to make. I just happen to know very well the lead actor of the film and his family. Ravi studied with me in Loyola. In fact I just spoke to him to tell him how proud I am of him. Jeyam is a typically successful Tamil movie so instead of trying to make my own point about the film, I am shamefully partisan in condoning it. Let me put it this way: It is an impressive movie with its own typically Tamil-film shortcomings, but the audience loves it and Ravi has done a great job.
Last evening Vipul, Mihir and I went to Elliot�s Beach to spend some quality time together, but while hunting for a parking space discovered that it was a corporate cultural event called friendship day. Ironically, no �quality time� is possible in a place chock full of so many �friends� out to spend lots of money on each other. Providentially, it started to drizzle and �the friends� rushed back to the shelter of their cars: then the beach felt very happy.
We guys decided we needed some happiness as well, so we went to Dublin.
Friday, August 01, 2003
Smarter than thou
It is indeed strange that while assessing the audience�s reaction to television programming (or any media text for that matter), most evaluators frame questions that talk about the intelligibility of the program. We, as creators tend to presuppose our �superior intelligence� that we want to find out if the audience is �upto it� or not, and if we need to condescend to make ourselves simpler. Not many �creators� wonder if we could ever be simply beneath the standards of the audience. Few ask questions like, �Was my program too na�ve or silly?� It is this disrespect for the audience�s intelligence that makes for bad programming and bad art.
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