Sunday, August 7

Fillum fillum filla

Sunday was a delight. Two reasons.

# Saturday was a late night and we had actually managed to finish the presentation that seemed so inconclusive. Work didn’t expand to fill up the Sunday available. (Parkinson was wrong, his principle was wrong.)

# I had something interesting to do.

Mocha has an interesting movie club where they screen short movies.

Short Movie Making in India is not a commercially viable option. Indian entertainment is still about blockbusters. It is still about pulling crowds by the star, about sari in its minimal form and about glycerin smudged eyes.

Lot of talented filmmakers and wannabe filmmakers’ who dream of making a good movie do not find either the financial muscle or the creative patronage that is crucial to tell a good story without commercial compromises. In case they do, finding an audience within the country is difficult. To all such people Mocha film club is a welcome alternative.

This Sunday saw the screening of 6 short movies. The first of them was a French movie “Charlotte Et Veronique, Ou Tous Les Garcons S’ appelent Patrick (wonder what that means!!!) This was directed by Jean – Luc Godard.
An extremely tight script and screenplay. Two friends stumble into the same man. They succumb to his advances. They fall in love. Promise a date. They share their girlish experience. Both women see what they want to see. Only to discover the truth at the end of 21 minute movie. The movie had an old school charm to it. Haven’t seen too many movies of Godard to compare.

The second movie was Red (My Dream, My Curse) by some Dhruvesh Jhaveri. Jhaveri boy has got it all wrong. The gawky camera work kept flirting with some svelte who couldn’t paint in red color. We didn’t know why? Oh yes!! Jhaveri told us later. She had seen a chicken getting slaughtered in her childhood at the local butcher’s. Pleeeeaaasssse!!! Don’t know where Dhruvesh grew up but we all have seen chicken and more getting slaughtered. Unpleasant as it may be, it does not really leave a scar on our memories. Get real, guys, Indian childhoods have far more real problems you can pick up and make movies on. And more importantly, Research. Well, Red didn’t convince the eclectic crowd at Mocha, it won’t elsewhere as well.

“A matter of hair” – a 11 minute movie directed by Anna Torres Alvarez was a wonderful spoof on the urbane obsession with cosmetic centre culture. One could spare few laughs at the work.

The short cut section had the soft spoken film maker Ruchi Narain (of Hazaar Khwaishein Aisee fame) talking about her movie Kal- Yesterday and tomorrow. The talented cast of Hazaar … Chitrangada Singh and Shiney Ahuja will be seen on screen with Smriti Misra thrown in. I am going to watch the movie because I watch all Bollywood movies.

Vivek Vaswani did some hard talk. About Cinema. And about the Industry .About how tickets sell, how money is raised in this world. How Cinema in India is a debt market. How Cinema in Hollywood is an equity Market. And why India hasn’t broken the vicious cycle of prostitution in Art. Why we still get movies where a middle class heroine living in a small town breaks into a dream sequence with Bombay at the backdrop wearing a see- through sari. Yes, Vivek Vaswani made sense. Aastha did hundred days in Patna not because a housewife succumbing to the crass commercial culture captured the town’s imagination but people wanted to watch explicit sex scenes between Rekha and her men. He made horse sense. Yet something in me still aligned with Saurabh Shukla when he said- “I don’t care whether my movies sell tickets, I would still make movies I want to make.” Thanks to this resolve we still see meaningful Cinema.

Sachin Kundalkar presented Bath. Bath told the story of a male prostitute in Mumbai. Sponsored by Sambhavana Trust, an NGO in Mumbai, the movie had a simple agenda- Male sex workers exist in our society. Men in our world are fathers, brothers, colleagues, friends, lovers and suitors. Yet male sex workers exist in thousands, fulfilling the carnal desires of a society caught in throes of a try –sexual phenomenon.

In Sachin’s film, a male sex worker goes to work, meets men, pawns himself and lives. He hates it, the waiting, the humiliation and everything else associated with transactional sex. He comes back to his chawl to wash off the filth. His meager bath under a municipality tap never washes off the smudge of his life. Yet somewhere in some tiny village there is a home to keep. A kitchen to run. Hopes to fuel. And thus life goes on.

And one day he meets a client who makes love to him and gives him a bath. An unusual experience for a hooker.

Sachin said he had no message to give. The movie was made after he & his actors met interacted and spent time with the Male CSWs. Don’t know if he was being modest or society’s deviant spoke through Sachin’s lens, or rather clamored for his share of human dignity, the movie was a cry for respect for the commercial sex workers.

Sensitive subject. Sensitive cinema.

The other movie was “With 500 rupees to heaven” made by a German director by Jan Gassmann & Thomas Jorg. The two filmmakers freaked out in autorikshaws in cheenai when they asked them to take them to destination heaven. The racy 9 min movie evoked laughter for its simplicity. Answers to “destination heaven” ranged from ridiculous to the sublime. They were charged 20 – 200 rupees, taken from Marina beach to red light areas to Spencer. Different heavens… all under the same sky.

The last movie was a Project work submitted by XIC students. Sanika Prabhu and others. Spurious development and Mills of Bombay City. A very laudable effort by students. A very nice combination of visuals. Yet the movie lacked research. It tried picking up where newspaper reports had left after the 1982 mill strike. It talked about mill workers being an integral part of Mumbai’s fabric & their alienation in the new development process. It failed to present a well researched, balanced view. And somewhere it ended up being a leaf stolen from Manoj Kumar’s film book. So you had somebody at Pheonix Mills saying – “Yes Mumbai would become a Shanghai” and the track dissolved to a mill worker asking “Where is my share of Shanghai?”. The lyrics were amazing, couldn’t catch the lyricist’s name though.

The crowd was forthright in its view, the atmosphere ripe for debates. There were filmmakers around. People who had ideas. Who had stories. Who wanted to be heard. I met a mechanical engineer who used to work in an organization. He kicked his job and joined a film school for a year. He wants to make movies. Born and bred in Bombay, his Nasik based parents are not aware of this. This 22 year old guy is looking out for a director under whom he can learn. His conviction in his calling was unnerving and endearing. May he realize his dreams. May he be the dream maker. Best of luck!


shikha said...

I had missed this one..last happy could catch a synopsis on your blog!

Anonymous said...

my name is Ana Torres-Alvarez, I´ve just found your review of my film, A Matter of Hair. These lines are just to say thanks for your comments, I´m glad you liked it.
Take care