Report Wire - Celebrating 75 years of India’s independence with the now-forgotten 35 mm cinema

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Celebrating 75 years of India’s independence with the now-forgotten 35 mm cinema

7 min read
Lead Feature Image. 35 mm film negative reels. CREDIT Wikimedia Commons

Filmmaker Onir had as soon as mentioned in an interview that there are points with capturing digital, like “that of lighting and the background getting burnt out…shooting landscapes is better with a film camera.” “There’s a certain magic to the graininess and texture of a 35 mm print which those clean chakchak digital prints don’t have. You just couldn’t keep shooting or edit on a computer, you had to cut, paste and layer. It was an arduous process,” says Vidyun Singh, inventive head, programmes, at Delhi’s cultural hub India Habitat Centre (IHC). The IHC is marking the seventy fifth 12 months of India’s independence with “75 years of Reel Magic — Looking Back with Nostalgia!”, a showcase of 35 mm movies, one from every of the seven many years since, throughout languages, by the month of August, in collaboration with the Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF).

The 35 mm cinema is historical past unfolding on display. “We possibly have the last surviving 35 mm projector in working order in the city or among the projector spaces in use,” says Singh, including that whereas IHC is upgraded to totally digital DCPs, their 25-year-old 35 mm projector KPK-23 with Xenon lamp comes alive for month-to-month screenings, “running the projector is like running an old car, unless it gives up on me, I’m not going to give up on it,” she says.

The 25-year-old 35 mm projector Cinesales KPK-23 with Xenon lamp. (Photo: Vidyun Singh/India Habitat Centre)

“We are doing decade-wise wrap-up, celebrating the fact that early movies, our heritage, only existed in 35 mm prints. We are ending with a film on the making of our first silent film, by a guy who works with 35 mm,” says Singh.

The selection of flicks for this competition was decided by their availability on 35 mm (with DFF). The free-for-all competition commenced on August 1, and can present on the below-mentioned dates, at 6.30 pm, Stein Auditorium, IHC:

Forties: Barsaat (Hindi)

Barsaat (1949). (Photo: Film Still)

After his directorial debut Aag (1948) tanked, Raj Kapoor’s sophomore catapulted the 25-year-old right into a prime director, and the youngest such, within the Bombay movie business on the time, and gave him the enduring scene that might turn out to be the emblem for his manufacturing home RK Films. Barsaat (1949), that ignited the Nargis-Kapoor onscreen chemistry, launched many newcomers in several departments, lots of whom would go on to create their very own area of interest, together with Ramanand Sagar because the scriptwriter. Barsaat exploits the trope of pahadi women falling for metropolis babujis and the way real love conquers all, albeit after misadventures and a struggle that maims, not the villain although. Kapoor, along with his automobile breaking down on winding roads, and his car-pusher buddy’s (Prem Nath) escapades and banter may have been a Don Quixote-Sancho Panza trade in one other universe, however it is a plain, bonny love story of easier occasions, when love, just like the movie’s palette, had been of simply two sorts: black and white, dangerous and good, lust and love. When: August 1

Nineteen Fifties: Pather Panchali (Bengali)

Pather Panchali (1955).  (Photo: Film Still)

The complete world is aware of how Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali/A Song of the Little Road (1955) put India on the worldwide map, and the way, consumed by the radicalism of Vittorio de Sica’s Bicycle Thieves (1948) and good cinema not essentially requiring skilled actors, rain-free capturing places, and make-up, he wrote the primary draft of his personal movie onboard the ship carrying him dwelling from London. What the world didn’t know was Bengali filmmakers, over half-century later, can be incomes their bread and butter by making poor, rehash copies and diversifications of Ray’s oeuvre. Ray’s debut and filmography is, formidably, the primary chapter within the life of each Indian movie scholar. He wrested cinema from being escapist and gave the audiences a actuality verify. Pandit Ravi Shankar’s scoring for Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay’s humanist story — of a village life, human nature, and juxtapositions of poverty and innocence, as Bhaskar Chattopadhyay observes in his new guide The Cinema of Satyajit Ray (Westland) — dropped at life with Ray’s pen/imaginative and prescient/course and Subrata Mitra’s lens, one doesn’t know which marvel to marvel at. Its aesthetics is beautiful in its totality.

When: August 2

Nineteen Sixties: Chemmeen (Malayalam)

Chemmeen (1965). (Photo: Film Still)

In Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai’s story, tailored into Ramu Kariat-directed Chemmeen (The Prawn, 1965), a fisherman will get some huge cash and turns into egocentric. The romance drama explores pitfalls of extreme greed, and a strict social order constructed round a girl’s chastity, it explores pre-marital and extra-marital relationships, and the adage of seafaring of us, that if a spouse crosses the road, the ocean shall devour her husband. The 60s counterculture and talks of girls’s rights was but to hit the shores. The movie received its Anglo-Indian cinematographer Marcus Bartley the gold medal on the Cannes Film Festival in 1978.

When: August 3

Seventies: Ankur (Hindi)

Ankur (1974). (Photo: Film Still)

In his function debut, director Shyam Benegal (whose subsequent movie would be the India-Bangladesh collaboration, Mujib), places a girl (Shabana Azmi) on the centre of the vortex of sophistication, caste and gender politics in feudal, rural India. The actors, Azmi’s and Anant Nag’s debut, as a married peasant woman in a bootleg affair with the owner’s son, respectively, are every a panorama unto themselves, and the movie is scaffolded upon myriad contradictions, corresponding to a liberal, city-educated, upper-caste man opts for a Dalit lady as a cook dinner, as an alternative of a priest, however agrees to a toddler bride for himself. The critically acclaimed back-to-the-roots social-realist movie Ankur (1974), additionally a industrial hit, shot by then debutant cinematographer Govind Nihalani, gave Benegal the tag of a parallel-cinema maker, one that might be caught for all times. Benegal, then a documentary filmmaker, apparently carried the movie’s script for 13 years earlier than he discovered buyers, Mohan Bijlani and Freni Variava, who invested Rs 5 lakh and the three began a production-distribution firm collectively referred to as Blaze Enterprises, writes OP Srivastava in his lately launched guide Pillars of Parallel Cinema: 50 Path-Breaking Hindi Films (2022).

When: August 16

Eighties: Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (Hindi)

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983). (Photo: Film Still)

Srivastava writes, in his guide, how Kundan Shah’s 1983 black comedy debut was impressed by two features: a real-life incident involving two of his FTII batchmates who, for the shortage of labor, opened a photograph studio in Hyderabad, and Michelangelo Antonioni’s movie Blow-Up (1966). The Antonioni Park within the movie was a hat tip to the latter. In his guide, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro: Seriously Funny Since 1983 (2010), Jai Arjun Singh writes, “…Kundan wasn’t too interested in the ‘slapstick side’ at the time he was writing the script. In fact, he shows an almost indifferent attitude to the physical comedy in the Vinod-Ashok (Naseeruddin Shah-Satish Kaushik) phone mix-up, assuming that the actors would easily manage it when the time came. What he really relished writing was the political commentary in a farcical phone conversation involving a fake Margaret Thatcher and a fake Ronald Reagan.” The movie, most clearly, was a satire on capitalism, consumerism, forms, actual property, media, and politics. “It was the first satirical Hindi comedy that was not slapstick,” Srivastava writes. From at the moment’s time, wanting again, it appears a marvel that the movie was produced by NFDC, which as soon as offered smaller, parallel movies, sufficient tooth to chew with.

When: August 19

Nineties: Roja (Tamil)

Roja (1992). (Photo: Film Still)

AR Rahman was launched to Hindi-film audiences with the dubbed model of Mani Ratnam’s 1992 Tamil romantic thriller, and romantic music, or music for that matter, would by no means be the identical once more. In a manner this movie was, maybe, the primary to bridge the north-south cinematic divide, not only for the audiences however for the movie’s topics too. Roja was, maybe, the primary dubbed movie to interrupt the regional barrier, turn out to be a success, and make Rahman, Ratnam, and his DOP Santosh Sivan to belong not simply to Madras (now Chennai) however to the entire nation. Ratnam’s “career is one that pivots around Roja,” writes Baradwaj Rangan in his guide, Conversations with Mani Ratnam (2012). The movie was an excellent instance of a movie with a patriotic theme championing the liberty of speech. Those had been distant occasions, each in actual and reel life.

When: August 29

2000s: Harishchandrachi Factory (Marathi)

Harishchandrachi Factory (2009). (Photo: Film Still)

The debutant director Paresh Mokashi-helmed 2009 biographical function movie trains the lens on the daddy of Indian cinema, Dadasaheb Phalke, and his making of, as is formally recognised, India’s first full-length function movie and first silent movie, Raja Harishchandra (1913). Though supporters of Dadasaheb Torne’s London-processed Shree Pundalik (1912) would beg to vary, nevertheless it was, by some accounts, photographic recording of a Marathi play. Harishchandrachi Factory takes a peek into Phalke’s fascination for the shifting picture, the 35 mm movie and projector, and the arduous job of the making of Raja Harishchandra. This is the place all of it started.

When: August 30