- Which are your 5 favourite films and why?
Why is the number always 5? All around the world I am asked the same number. You can’t stop at 5. There are so many films. Cinema caters to different states of mind. The appeal changes with age. As you change as a person, your cinema changes. I’ve always found this a challenging question. The child in me loves ‘Jungle Book’. I like ‘Do Aankhen Barah Haath’ for taking up such a serious subject and converting it into Nautanki style of storytelling. I love Meghe Dhaka Tara. It’s my all-time favourite film. It does something to me that I cannot explain. ‘Guide’ , ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ in India, so much of Italian cinema. Fellini- all his movies as a director. Polish film-maker called Krzysztof Kieślowski. He’s done incredible films. This series called Decalogue – a series of ten short films based on the ten commandments – absolutely delectable. The American art-house films. The era where the Rat Pack of America changed cinema – Scorcese, Coppola, Oliver Stone, all these guys has been very inspiring in my life. Before them, there were musicals and big dramas and they brought realism into movies and turned it on its head. And they brought in imagination – people like Spielberg and George Lucas. They took us to space. If you look eastwards, there are masters like Kurosawa and his cinema. Closer home there were ‘Do Bigha Zameen’ , ‘Garam Hawa’, ‘ Meghe Dhaka Tara’, ‘Sarange Holi’, ‘Guide’ , ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ these were some of the movies that made an impact on me. Not that there aren’t other films. ‘Bandit Queen’ was one of my favourites
2. What is your take on contemporary Indian film-makers?
I am slightly disappointed in them. That’s a negative way to put it. I am one of the contemporary film-makers in India and I am slightly disappointed in myself too. We are not able to choose. The character of any nation or any community depends on the choices they make and it seems like we are not able to choose. We are living by other people’s choices. We are always scared of putting our foot forward and make the cinema that we want to make. We are not able to sever ties from the whole folk theatre, nautanki, song-and-dance musicals. Yet we have one foot in the other boat and we want to get into this whole new wave. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. You have to make a choice. This is my take on contemporary film-makers including myself from a third person point of view. I think that is what the world also feels . They are looking at us and they are hoping for a change. But its so far-and-wide and spaced out that you are not noticing any change. We are still stagnated. (more…)
On a friday afternoon, with the weekend already tugging at my work life, I decided to break the lethargy by heading to the Queens’ library at the basement of the my fifty storied office, in downtown New York. Having decided to watch a foreign language movie, I zeroed in on ʻSeven Samuraiʼ – one of the most celebrated works of Akiro Kurosawa and arguably his magnum opus.
Seven Samurai is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. A village, ravaged by marauding thugs, is awaiting their next plunder, after the harvest. The villagers decide to hire Samurai to safeguard their crops and citizenry and ward off the bandits. In return, the masterless Samurai would be provided food. A battle-hardened Samurai, Kambei, is the first to accede to the villagersʼ request. How he recruits other Samurai and how they go about fighting the bandits form the plot of this enthralling three hour twenty seven minutes movie.
Seven Samurai wonderfully depicts the feudal nature of the Japanese society and the friction among the warrior and farmer classes. The tension is visible when a few Samurai react with anger when they realize how badly the villagers had taken advantage of fleeing warriors in the past. With a long running time, Kurosawa is able to flesh out the key characters effectively. Seven Samurai is also a visual treat. The movie is heavy on metaphors. The symbolism of ʻSevenʼ, the use of the elements of nature (a Kurosawa speciality) add to the allure of storytelling. One of the trademarks of a great movie is, apart from the usual trendsetting aspects of filmmaking, one can extract scores of little nuggets that one can so happily tug at. ʻSeven Samuraiʻ is no exception, spawning an entire range of movies based on its mode of storytelling.
Great screenplay, wonderful acting, haunting cinematography backed by some good music make this a must-watch for anybody reasonably interested in watching good cinema.