Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Green unplugged
Glad to inform you that an experimental short film titled “In Search of Peace” (Duration 27.53), is selected by an online filmfest by Culture Unplugged.
It is dream come true film, where we tried simplicity as the form of story telling. The story is told in a light manner with the least of everything. There is only one character and the nature and its symbols as silent characters. There are very little dialogues and less than a minute of music at the end with absolutely no special effects. The pace of the film is kept slow and the sound of nature recorded from the location was kept the maximum.

I have not done any kind of adjustments or compromises from the time the story was conceived in mind. In fact the location itself was dreamt much before I went in search of it. I visualized the film in the pace which it is actually done. When I send this film for a Fest in Chennai, they asked me to cut it short to 15 mins and increase the pace of it, which I think would have killed the beauty of it. There I opted to take it out from the fest.

Today I’m thankful for the www.cultureunplugged.com team for providing me with an online platform to share this concept with all of you.

Please try to see it concentrating on the sound of nature. And if the climax of the film is not bringing a piece of peace….please feel free to hit the Director :). Thanks to Indrajith, Rayson and the entire crew for helping me in realizing it.

The background info on the film is placed in the blog on the same, written on Dec 2007
Warm regards,
Arun

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Day for Night
A good friend from Hexaware once said, “Never let an Army man open his mouth about War or Army life and Arun about Cinema or MCC life. I’m saving you from a big trouble”. Well, dear friend, I can understand your feelings… but, it’s tuff for both me and my beloved companion (comparison) not to talk about our passion and identity. Well, Cinema was always been my love of life and MCC (Madras Christian College)…my life of love.
Having said this, you can imagine what could be the situation when MCC invite such a person for a Film Review and Talk on Cinema. Well, you are free to enquire with the victims of such a destiny…the young and energetic Film Club from MCC, REELITY BITES and the audience of the session. It happened last week…and from heart guys…you made my day. I was asked to review the French film “Day for Night” directed by celebrated filmmaker Francois Truffaut who triggered the French New Wave Movement in cinema. It was a moment of nostalgia and pride, for a very normal Heber Hall guy who used to envy ex-mccians, coming as guests for various events, during his college days. Thanks for Reelity Bites especially Alan and both the Sachins, faculties and students of Department of Communication, Department of Journalism and each and everyone who attended the session...it was undoubtedly one the most beautiful moments I cherish for this life time.
I reached much early to the event time and kept roaming inside the campus reading the changes, tree by tree…plant by plant. Finally at the Selaiyur hall guest room I met, Alan and Sachin standing in a sad mood. With a tone of apology Sachin said “So sorry, we tried our best to campaign this.” As I walked into the room, I could see more empty seats and few dull faces. I said “Guys, I know you did your best. Neither wasn’t I expected a great crowd. Film is a very responsible affair and I am happy if I find at least one or two who genuinely feel it true. So let’s start…” But as the session went on, seats started filling in and after the event, Alan said “It was awesome, guess what, this time we had lot many people and a few ppl had to go back coz of lack of space.” Three Cheers to Truffaut.
He was called the “Gravedigger of French Film” for his brutal and unforgiving criticism of cinema and was banned from Cannes Film Fest in the year 1958. Ironically the same “Gravedigger” was recognized as the Best Director by the same Fest for his film “The 400 Blows” in 1959, accepting his grammar of cinema a new identity for the fantasy and reality captured on Silver Nitrate. Francois Truffaut’s article “A Certain Trends in French Cinema” published in the year 1954, Cahiers du Cinema magazine, still stand as the backbone of Auther Theory. (I never had a chance to read it)
Auther Theory says that a Director’s Film reflect that director’s personal vision, as if he or she were the primary “Auther” (Author). Another key element of Auther theory comes from Alexandre Astruc’s (French Film Critic and Filmmaker) notion of the camera-stylo or “camera pen” and the idea that directors should wield their camera like writers use their pens and they need not hindered by traditional storytelling. (courtsy Wikipedia).
“Day for Night”(1974, La Nuit Americaine in French ) is considered to be one of Truffaut’s greatest films. This film along with his “The 400 Blows”(1959) were listed among the top 100 best films of this century by Time magazine. Day for Night also won the 1974 BAFTA Award for best film and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. ‘Nuit Americane’or American Night is a technical process whereby sequences shot during the daytime are made to appear as if they are taking place at night.
As the director himself said - Many a times it’s not the story of film but the whole process of its making becomes the best experience of film. In “Day for Night”, Truffaut introduce us a film crew in the process of shooting a film called “Meet Pamila” (with lot of high expectations) and there goes lot of funny-crazy-wild moments in the process of fulfilling it. “Day for Night” starts with the first day of shoot and ends with the last day of it. We meet a lot of interesting characters from the Director of the film to the producer to the actors to the line controller’s wife, all speaking their own ethics. The film keep on ‘asking as well as thinking’ the question, whether or not movies are more important than life of those who make it.
Assistant girl says “I can DITCH a guy for film but not the film for a guy.”
Director says “Finally what is important is THE FILM.”
Producer says, “COMPROMISE with the pregnant secretary.”
Art Director says, “That task is not in my CALL SHEET.”
Insurance guy says, “Just FINISH it by this time”.
Etc etc….and…
Truffaut says “This is THE END of films like ‘Meet Pamila’. Lets shoot films on roads, streets…etc..etc"
As the film got over, I discovered an intelligent set of viewers open for discussion. Guys I really mean it, I was surprised to see you all staying back after the film to share your thoughts. Believe me, it is a difficult task even in a Film Fest to make the crowd glued to the seats after one and a half hour of film show for a fruitful discussion on the same. I was lucky to have a THINKING CROWD.I triggered the discussion with the comment “Now that was ‘Day for Night’, Guys...I guess in filmmaking we have solutions for everything but not in personal life. So what would you think is important...film or life? ” The response was great, with some people supporting 'cinema' and some the 'life'...But in you all what I felt was....a set of responsible social beings.
Proud to see sensible-strong-intelligent MCCians who trusts the Art of cinema above loving the Art of cinema. Proud to see u admiring the PASSION of cinema than mere PROFESSION of cinema. And Three Cheers to Reelity Bites. Keep going. All the best.
Btwn thanks for that cute gift. I liked the logo of MCC on that.
Regards,
Cockroach

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

An Interesting Meal

Day before yesterday I had a meal quite delicious and truly special cooked by an Aravani (a transgender) at her small hut, hardly of the size of a maruthi van, at a small town called Kallippetti in Maduri. I call it special because such a thing had never happened in my life before. I can boldly say that the very little rice and Karuvad (Fish curry) she offered is one among the best I have ever had in my life.

This is the second time I traveled with my friends Rayson and Susan, shooting this Aravani family for Susan’s Ph D research on their lifestyle, art and culture. I was too doubtful about this idea initially as I have seen them only as a rude and ridiculous lot disturbing common people around. Yet, true to the inner call for adventure n thus realizing the fact that a second thought is of no scope, I joined them on this documentary mission almost a year back.

Like last time, we got a warm welcome from the inhabitants constituting of 6 to 7 Aravanis and their mother “Pandi Ammal”. I am not getting into any details of the visit coz that would be like intruding into Susan’s research material. At the same time I can’t be but express my feeling about them for being in their hospitality for 2 days. In spite of their sexual orientation towards men, I have not felt anything different in their attitude towards life from others. In fact, I found them extremely talented, philosophical and creative. Their only difference is that most of them are male by birth and female by heart. They talk-walk-dress-dream like a woman longing for the identity of a woman.

Susan explains it in this way “If you consider man and woman are two ends of a string these people comes somewhere in between. Nobody can be a complete man or a complete woman.” In fact after the first day shoot I had to tell her, if she is 80 % woman, I could see them as 100% woman by heart.

Yet before blaming the society, I would like to blame myself for acting indifferent. It so happened that on the return journey, I was feeling so restless when the guy who came with us as our guide openly admitted that he is a bisexual living a duel life.
Regards,
Cockroach

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Butcher
A few weeks back, on a routine visit to my friend Sweta’s desk at Hexaware, she asked me this question
“Arun, don’t you think you must be doing a short film based on the bomb blasts? See how many are getting killed every other day.”
Though the concept of “The Butcher” was there in my mind for quite sometime, it was then I actually decided to frame it. I’m glad that she asked this question coz it made me realize that there are people who genuinely think that a short film can create some impact on the society we live in. How big or small it would be…don’t ask me…I have no clue..!!! If the film can reach and touch the mind of at least one among a billion, I strongly believe that, it worked.



Now about…‘The Butcher’…In a single sentence……it is the story of a man becoming the cause as well as the victim of a destiny written by him. Let me not give any further explanations on that...but leave it for your to watch...

When I showed this film to my colleagues in office, the immediate response was, “How did you make a butcher act so well in your film?”
And I repied, “Guys interesting question, but the Butcher here is a documentary filmmaker, a music director, a PhD scholar and finally my friend, Rayson. He is the same person who acted as a chicken-trader in my previous film ‘Two Ways Together’. Actually our friend Susan already made this comment that, with ‘The Butcher’ I had given him a promotion from Chicken to Beef”.

Jokes apart, I always enjoyed working with him as we share these notorious qualities in common- lack of shame, lots of unwanted guts and adaptability to anything and everything. We are in the process of another short film where his role is not again of a butcher but of a music composer.

‘The Butcher’ gave me a new friend and an assistant, Sachin from MCC. He has a better role back in MCC. He is the founder, planner and coordinator of a Film Club, Reelity Bites, targeted at reaching the campus crowd with good quality films. Let me talk about it in another blog. He learns commerce in college and breathes Arts. A brilliant person to share thoughts on film, culture and society. I hope to see his name more often in the credits of my future ventures.

The voice of wife and daughter on phone in the film is of ‘Agnetha’, yet another friend whom I got from MCC with this film. Agnetha, I am sure you must have identified a brilliant dubbing artist in you by this time. Good job, get going.

My hearty thanks to Susan for all the support and care. I like the way you take ownership of my works. Your presence is energizing the mode of filming. I can’t forget Mr. Udhay Kumar, the beef stall owner and other friends from the shop for providing the space and helping us on the shoot. In fact, by mistake, I broke a watch given by them while shooting.
Thanking you all,
Cockroach

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Eastern Culture/ Identity in Globalized World
There is an interesting quote on culture by Mahatma Gandhi whom I don’t think anyone would require an introduction.

“I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.”

It is very clear from the statement that this mighty man of truth and ahimsa from Indian sub-continent had foreseen the idea of globalization much before and at the same time understood the value of preserving and preaching own culture.

All most all the third world countries from the east are facing the issue of their culture being eaten up by the Western Post-modern nations, who claims themselves to be developed, on the backdrop of the idea of globalization. Of course, it is an acceptable fact that today’s technology and trade had sucked the entire world together shadowed under single umbrella. Globalization not only made visibility on anything and everything from one corner to another but also resulted in the cultural give and take too. But the sad fact is that most of the poor lot of eastern world has some kind of dependency towards a developed nation from the west who remains the warehouse of wealth. Naturally there aroused a mental slavery towards the west and hence an idea that the east need to change themselves to match the culture of the west. Kolapuri slippers thus lost a battle to Nike and Reebock and dhothis to the Jeans. Origin of a human society and its culture has a lot to do with its geography and heritage that may not have any relevance to another social set-up.

If we consider the area of filmmaking as an example, the worst scenario we are facing is the trend of imitation. In India we had already seen the formation of quite a lot distant cousins to Hollywood…Bollywood, Kollywood, Tollywood, Mollywood….god knows how many more to come… These names itself suggest how much we are blindly bind to the film culture of a nation on the other side of globe. Coming days Indian audience might end up watching Indian Jurassic Parks and Meet the Fockers more often than Lagaan or Rudali.

All the art forms, whether it is painting, poetry, music or filmmaking, should definitely have an aesthetic identity of the region from which they are getting molded. The greatness of art is not in the imitation of an alien style but the imagination in own style. Nobody has the right to say that a classic Victorian painting is of high standard than the traditional temple mural from Kerala. There is no point in judging both based on the same parameters, as long as the medium and mode of creation as well as the target viewers are totally different. The same way, in music Rock and Pop can never be of greater importance to Hindustani or Carnatic. Each cannot substitute of the other. Even the traditional African tribal Blues that lacks a defined form or lyric pattern is of equal importance to any other branch of music.

Many of the young generation filmmakers of India have this attitude that until they create a new version of Matrix they would not be able to reach the level of world class cinema and that their creation could never be showcased and marketed to the world audience. This thought is like an Indian sculptor creating an imitation of Michael Angelo’s “Thinker” and trying to sell it to the European world who has no new fancy towards it. At the same time they prefer buying a simple “Nataraja” statue from our very own countryside. Recently while checking a clay model as a wedding gift for my friend, I was shocked to see not even a single piece that has the look and feel of an Indian man or woman. Almost all of them are crafted with “gentleman caps” and European physique.

Art is the cultural ambassador of a nation and until it reflects the true fragrance and flavour of its originality, it is of no class or standard. East and West are two different horizons. It is time to understand that West is no more interested in watching themselves in an imitation worked out from the East. So what is the need of East trying to become west??? Rather it must show its beauty and diversity to the west. Losing own cultural identity is like living without a surname. Globalization is not a process of changing us to another US or Europe. It is the process of sharing of knowledge, ideas and culture along with the business aspect of it. As Gandhi said let us enjoy the breeze coming in, standing strong on our own feet.

Monday, September 29, 2008



If sea is love, she is sea…& if she is love, sea is she…
She is a mother for some…
She is a lover for some

Wind and the waves are whispering the sonata of sea. There are a wide range of performers too…children, fishermen, birds, a lazy dog... and me…

‘Sea sonata’ is a kind of docu-fiction on seaside. It’s a montage of visuals shot at the beaches of Chennai. I am not trying any Flaherty touch here. There is no connection between the shots…and…no specific story to tell you. It’s the flow some random visuals on the backdrop of the music of wind and the waves. In fact I would rather switch of the monitor of my comp and loop the sound of sea…the sonata of the sea…it’s soothing…taking me back to the laps of nature.

It’s about the fisherman’s way back with his catch…It’s about a lazy dog…it’s about the Kattamaram (boat) dancing with the current; it’s about the children of sea…it’s about a little girl waiting to get tickled by a naughty notorious wave…It’s about me…it’s about sea…
‘Sea Sonata’ is for those who admire the golden sand, the gentle breeze and music of the wind and the waves, of Chennai seaside. For a few minutes, let me take you from your seats to the bosom of sea…

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

“Some Cry on's and Some Crayons”

“My proposal to a woman and Film Institute was always been a flop. And the history just repeated. But both I can’t stop coz I’m not yet convinced that I’m not good for both. Anyways this time I realized that I was been proposing the wrong girl and that I must change my way of proposal.”

I msged my film guru, friend and guide, Vinod Sir (Veye Films), as soon as I heard that I’m rejected once again in the interview at Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune. It was my 4th attempt since the year 2003. Yea, I can read it, 2003 to 2008 is quite a long period. Last time I was too upset after seeing the result, but this time I’m not. Last time, I even lost my train back to Chennai, boarded wrong train and reached Mumbai VST. Luckily I found a dealer who got me a ticket for the evening train to Chennai on some extra cash. But I had to spend a day at the railway station. I needn’t have done that, but my mental status wasn’t letting me to enjoy Mumbai roads. Sitting there, I thought a lot on what I must be doing in future through audio-visual medium that I was already in love with. Why should I wait for someone to teach me things, why can’t I myself start doing something on my own creating my own space? Too good a dream and too unpractical…Isn’t it?

A lot of ideas just flashed in mind on how to go about doing things. I had a sudden thought - there are novels but there is always a short story, there are costly oil paintings on canvas worth millions but there is still a less costly crayon wax sketch. Without any further explanation to myself I made a quick decision. I may or may not be a feature filmmaker who makes big budget blockbusters, but I can still remain a passionate short filmmaker who fulfils the art of cinema at almost zero budgets. The short filmmaker in me need not bother about the reaction of audience to the film; the money involved in the creation as well as the money such a film can generate later. I don’t need to bother about any kind of awards and appreciation too. Something beyond the box office, the headaches from film unions and ego-prestige issues, where I could concentrate only on the art aspect of it. There I felt cinema more free and fine. In a way, I was doing mere experiments with a satisfactory script, using a mini DV camera and minimal editing techniques only to share a thought…an idea. In past two years time I could do 14 short films and 3 documentary films. All of them have a pattern of simplicity, which I strongly believe in - minimal duration, few dialogues, music, characters, locations and almost zero special effects. To place all these films under same banner and to have a common identity, I have branded it “Cockroach in Cocktail” and a few friends thus stated calling me Cockroach…that I use as my penname now.

Even after all this, there always remained something blank in mind…a good knowledge of filmmaking. I felt this really irritating when my friends and juniors called me to be a part of their film screening sessions and to talk about cinema. Twice I had to go and see the college projects done by junior friends on their request, before they take the output from editing machine. How can I tell them that I have no qualification in filmmaking and all that I have done in these years is like an ekalavya-effort of teaching myself what filmmaking is! I am slowly realizing that, with the trust others have on me, I must not be doing a bad film any time. That is why I tried at FTII once again. Thought I may get a brighter canvas and colours.

Again I was called for the interview a few weeks back. As one of my friends who studied in FTII suggested, I spoke very honestly on what I feel about filmmaking. I said that I’m there to learn the art of filmmaking and told them about all that I was been doing in these years. Finally the jury declared I am just fantasizing on films and I have to come down to reality coz filmmaking is an industry. They said the idea of short films and my promotional measures would never take me anywhere. Thus the history repeated with me losing again the battle for a seat at FTII, Pune.

I am not upset this time’s lose at FTII though it’s not a great feeling to be a loser anywhere. I am clear that I am not the right candidate for them. The idea of films and filmmaking I have is quite different from what they r expecting, which I won’t anyway fit in. Neither I regret about me nor I blame anyone for this. One thing I understood is that, I am sure on what I am doing…in life…I may or may not be able to make feature films in life, but this is my promise to everyone who shares thoughts on my films – I will continue to do short films and reach you with new thoughts.

I am motivated by Vinod Sir’s reply to the msg I sent (I referred him as my God father figure at this time interview as I treat him as my soul source of inspiration) -
“The world always saves ur girl. The girl whom u r searching for, must be in search of you. And so on. They lost you. History starts here.”

Words have a charm of its own, when placed in proper order. It’s inspiring. Anyways I’m not here to change anything. Though I have lost a wider canvas and rich paints, let me speak to you with my crayons and notebook sheet. I don’t have a proper frame for my paintings and don’t know where, when and how to display it. Let me just make a rocket and through it to you. I’m not expecting anything in return. It’s all for free…

Regards,
Cockroach.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I have an open question. Have you ever had the experience of living a story you read in your childhood…. something which you can’t forget for this life time…? I’m sure we all have not just one but quite a lot. There is one such cute story I read in Reader’s Digest sometime in my childhood that still makes me feel excited. The day it came, the date, the title, the author….everything just faded away from my mind…except for the key concept. I read it in my 5th or 6th standard. I don’t remember when and where I got this book from, but sure it was an old copy of Reader’s Digest with more chances of it to be my uncle’s who used to be a lecturer in English. I’m touched by the story since then and had visualized umpteen times in mind.



The idea of making it a short film came to mind hardly two months back, while working. Quickly I shared it with some good friends around and they all joined me in fulfilling this thought. I must thank my colleagues Tintin and Venki for their support first. I was supposed to shoot the film with Tintin but on the location because of some vital constraints as I suggested, Tintin without any hesitation, passed the role to Venki who came with him just to help us out in the shoot. Veni, my friend from MCC was a special surprise for me coz I never thought that she would accept my idea of making her the leading lady of the film. And she just took it as her own responsibility, so I hardly had any trouble in getting the right dialogues and expressions from her.


Two learning experiences from Joebin:

1. The best learning experience for me in the film was Joebin himself, the 6th standard student in the film. He is my friend Deepu’s cousin. I was in the impression that it would be really tough to make kids act and he just proved me wrong. I explained him the story and dialogue only once on the location. After that I was busy explaining Veni about her expressions. In between, Joebin came and ask, “Arun Chetta, what is the dialogue after this?” We all got astonished when he said that he was trying to by heart the dialogues till then. He was in the impression that like in a drama he has to continuously deliver the dialogues. And guess what I never had to tell him, “Boy, now you have to do this”, at any point of the shoot.

2. Joebin who taught me this again. In my planned film, he was not supposed to smile anywhere. And if you now see the film the last smiling shot of Joebin is his creation. You believe or not, even though I had seen the film n number of times this particular shot is sure to bring a smile.

While the presents of my colleague Tintin was a positive energy while shooting the first scene, it was Raita who took that task in the shoot of sec scene. Whether it’s while talking to her or being with her I am happy and confident. Coz as she herself says she has one BIG mouth, that can’t be kept shut…What you say Raita? Guess I must take you to all my shoots. So that I feel free of any tension, laugh a little extra and may be live one extra day or week…

I want to write a few lines about Antony, but revealing his roll in the film may as well take the suspense of the film. So let me just leave it with “thanks……..”. Also my hearty thanks to Anbu and Vadivel for helping with the right location and equipments.

Only two of my films kept me happy from the first day of ideation till its completion, though the excitement levels are always high any film. One is “In Search Peace” and the second is “Yours Truly”. “In Search of peace”, was the visualization of a dream I had. So doing that film was an experience of dreaming again. And “yours truly” made me revisit my childhood.

And a million thanks to the writer of the story who remained successful in keeping his story live in my mind from the time I read it. I have not taken anything else form the real story accept the key concept of it. And the screenplay is made totally different by cutting down all the other characters coming in the story and by making film really crisp with only two scenes and two meetings at two different point of time….showing the intimacy of the two characters and that single promise…

Monday, August 18, 2008




a Short Story about Love

I feel like a loser. Feel so sick and tired of this weird state of helplessness. After a long time I’m caught in a mood to cry…Huh. I was supposed to write a blog on my new short film. But my current state of mind is not letting me do that. In stead of compiling an essay out of it, I want to describe this chapter of my life in the form of a story….A story about me and a cute girl. I know that I’m good at churning an art in my own world of agony. The worst the pain...the best the creation…

It may sound like a story to you but as long as I’m real and those incidents happening in my life are real, you are left with just one choice to be a part of it. Today I realized that her love for me has no limits…and that she is looking for my support and care. Yet I had to leave her back in her world. I introduce her to you as someone whom I know since the second year of my college days in Chennai.

Of late I found her avoiding me most of the time, acted as if we had never met in our life before. Last time when I left her back with her mom, she didn’t even care to come near to say a good bye. My eyes kept searching for that sweet smile as my bike moved on. But for my surprise I had a glimpse of her, looking though the window with a placid face. “She would have forgotten me. She would have forgotten that day I carried her on my shoulders. May be I’m being stupid thinking her as a part of my life.” That was the last thought I had in my mind while returning home.

Since then, it’s been almost six or seven months, I cared to visit her. Today after finished with the editing of a short film, a sudden thought aroused from nowhere to go there and spend some time with her. Without a second thought I and my friend Aneesh went to the Home. As soon as I reached almost all the kids who knows me surrounded me, jumping over me calling “Arun Anna”. I was struggling to remember their names, everyone changed a lot. I called a few names which I quickly recollected, Vikky, Madesh, Sheshamma, Shilpa, Kausalya…..Others who recognized me as “Arun Anna from MCC college”, came and told their names. But…Where is my sweet little girl Joshna? I kept searching...

My heart started beating loud for a while, until I saw her sitting with a new friend whom she recently adopted as her ‘Thankachi’( Sister).The little Josh whom I had known from my college days had grown to a 3rd standard girl. She had become quite lean and I must say that she had lost her chubby baby look. Like last time, she didn’t even care to look at me or talk to me. She reacted as if I’m not there any where in her memories.

Joshna was a small little girl when my friends from M. A. Communication batch did the PR campaign on helping AIDs infected and affected kids in Chennai. By taking the kids for an outing, we tried to make people get rid of their stigma towards those kids who have AIDs. She is from Hope foundation. I still remember the day I took the kids from Hope in a van to Scripture Union campus where we arranged for games, food and fun. I was carrying her on my shoulders. She was with me whole the time, talking to me, playing, singing, dancing………Our faculty Ms. Sunisha identified her as my girl friend and made a smiling comment “Wherever this guy goes he is sure to discover the most beautiful thing, conquer it and quick to own it.” Yea right, those who have seen my CV, that’s the same comment I added in ‘About Me’ column. Thanks a lot Mam, I still get inspired by that comment, also it makes me think about the “most beautiful thing” that you say so.

Joshna I’m so sorry dear, I’m too selfish to leave you all the time. I understood you well today. I understood what you want to tell me. I was too hurt when you behaved as if you don’t know me. I was hurt when you told your mom, that you don’t remember me. But the moment when you told her that you don’t remember anyone who came with me last time, I understood that you were lying. In your struggle to hide me in your mind, I saw you being too naughty and got beaten by your mother. Isn’t it? Don’t you remember everything? Aren’t you acting because you knew very well that I will leave you in a few minutes? You miss me, right? You know what; I’m equally possessive about you. I was too jealous, once you left me and went with my friend Swarna…though I had seen you both look alike together. Between Swarna, if u r reading this blog, beleive me as far as I know you both there is something common in u.

I don't know whether I’m being stupid….well. While leaving the home, I could hear only her cry. I wish I could take her home…………….I’m a selfish….helpless……loser. I accept that. I’m really sorry dear…

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I, being a bad filmmaker
Yesterday, while browsing though some of the texts on filmmaking I read a PhD thesis titled “In Search of the Magic Wand for African Cinema” by Chika Anyanwu from the School of Media and Information, Curtin University of Technology. The topic was so interesting that the ‘always dormant’ reader in me got energized and engrossed it. It spoke about the need of filmmakers being natural and original in their creation. According to him a good film should emerge from the cultural background of the filmmaker, stitched on the fine thread of the traditional values of his own land and coloured by his own blood.
The writer expresses his fury as well as agony on the trend of African filmmakers trying to imitate other films industries like Hollywood that has no significance in the day to day life of an African. He has an interesting question for everyone,
“What is the difference between what we call witchcraft and what passes as horror movies from Europe and America? We are quick to defend the blood-sucking vampires in western movies as part of English gothic literature but condemn spirits and ghosts in African films as barbaric. While one is from a western ‘civilised’ nation the other is from a ‘barbaric’ culture.”
He says “According to Kwaw Ansah (1999), what is called witchcraft is religion to Africa.”
I liked this quote on African films
The image of Africa that I see through external filmic representations could be likened to a romantic dinner served to a western voyeur with the following recipe: a bag of political enslavement of African regions with two cans of Hollywood movies, sprinkled with seasoned media sensationalism, which is added to a chunk of humanitarian aid to soften the bones, cooked under heated debates for two centuries, then served on a plate of economic dependency with a bottle of chilled technological backwardness, to be eaten in a moonlit jungle hut.
Chika Anyanwu also attacks the western religious beliefs especially Christianity for degrading the African way of life and their religions as mere superstitions.
We have become an enlightened continent of contradictions. On the one hand we continue to claim victim status after many years of independence in order to avoid responsibility for our inaction, on the other hand we take refuge under Christianity instead of our traditional religion because punishment for our atrocities can be deferred until we get to heaven instead of facing instant justice as meted out by our ancestors and elders.
In 1985 William Akufu, a film distributor with no filmmaking background or experience got some money and friends together and used a VHS camera to make his first feature video, Zainab. The Ghana Film Corporation and the television stations rejected this video film with an interesting question posed to him, what is the meaning of VHS, to which he innocently answered ‘video home system’ and the result was that he should take his movie to his home. His persistence paid off because he arranged to screen the movie at various venues with hired projectors. As fate would have it, the film was well received by the people despite its technical shortcomings. For the first time African people saw their life in their own language. That is the start of purity in African films.
I left my homeland more than half a decade back. I used to read, write and talk in my mother tongue Malayalam than in any other language. Though my stay in other places made me open to different cultures and traditions, I believe that I have lost myself somewhere. Past six or seven years I have not written anything in Malayalam. All the films I have done till date is in English. I have not tried a film in Malayalam for the simple reason that I’m truly scared of hurting the language. I have this feeling that I am not matured enough to approach Malayalam in film. Hardly anyone would have heard me using any bad words in Malayalam, though I am more comfortable doing that in other language. Anytime, my biggest dream is to do films rich in the traditional values of Kerala and her eternal beauty. As of now I’m not prepared for that… Here I am introducing myself as a bad filmmaker to you.
I pity those who are in the mode of imitation of other’s culture, while losing their own culture. I pity those who already lost there identity by adapting another identity. I pity your confused state of being nowhere. I pity your state of searching for gold standing on golden floor. I pity your attitude of hating your own colour. I pity me for calling myself a ‘filmmaker’.

Friday, July 18, 2008

In the Muduga Land

Last weekend I was at a place called Attappadi in Kerala to shoot a documentary film on the Muduga Tribe for a very close friend, Rayson. If you had seen my short film, Two Ways Together, I’m sure I don’t need to introduce him to you. Added to that, he is a good friend from my college days, a very determined person who is doing his PhD on the music of the Muduga lot for past 5 years- also a good writer, singer and musician. Acting was a new talent I forced on him without any mercy and the result is of course all those nice remarks I received from many of you guys.



It was an awesome experience in my life at one of the paradises on earth with the most affectionate people around. Thanks to my new friends from Attappadi, Santosh and Manoj for identifying me as one of their family members. Can’t ever forget the nice home food and fun I shared with them. Without their support the shoot wouldn’t have ever happened.

Rayson already had some excellent video footage and interviews that includes a Muduga funeral function and couple of other events, taken a year back. So we already had a rough frame of the film and a fresh checklist for all that is to be shot from the spot. It took us a tiresome 13 hours from the heat of Chennai to reach the heart of Attappadi. Something which I wanted to shoot yet missed in this whole trip was the painful way which birds were downloaded and transported from the top of a bus at Coimbatore Bus Depot. They even had two closed sacks full of live little ones.

As soon as reaching Attappadi, we charged our energies as well as the batteries at Santhosh’s place. By this time he and Manoj were ready with their bikes and we started our first day’s journey to the forest land. An interesting thing our beloved friend did was to offer a big ‘Hi’ to the forest guard who stopped us on the way. In the confusion of identifying his unexpected friend, we were politely permitted to travel into the restricted area. I could take some beautiful visuals of the forest and the river with huge and humongous population of tadpoles. Santhosh, Manoj and Rayson did their best to get some leaches to perform a nice bloodsucking demo for my cam, but they seemed to be so shy. And for our surprise, back at home I discovered a bright blood stain on my Jeans, right above my left leg stocking. That night was good fun sharing chicken as well as cheap jokes of all kind.

On Sunday morning we quickly got ready to try our luck on the most wanted visuals with a Muduga tribal named Ayyappan. With the help of him we took all the interesting shots that showed how they lived a life close to nature. They took honey, but never killed a bee…they found food on the roots of a creeper, but planted a new bud before leaving the place…they collected tender bamboo buds for food but always left a few to grow for future. Ayyappan Maman, in spite of his old age and a curved hunch-back climbed the cliffs like a young enthusiastic monkey. I had to struggle with the cam to reach his speed and style. And Rayson had a real bad time with his fat belly when he had to scroll into a cave on top the cliff where we interviewed Maman on the music of Muduga hunt.

After the shoot we met one of Rayson’s Guru-like figure Mani Achan who is leading a very peaceful life in his farm house at the hillside preaching and practicing a new social life and philosophy. I identified him as a priest who left that PROFESSION to become the real preacher of being in nature’s way of a natural life. At the time of leaving he invited me to spend a vacation at his Eden Garden. I told this in mind, wait I'll be back as soon as I find my Eve.

Now back at the room in front of my comp, while editing the film, I’m regaining the thrill of those moments I shot as well as all those happy hidden moments that I preferred not to shoot.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Salaam Cinema

This write-up is in response to a blog written by my beloved friend, creative partner and critic, Somaasri (Soma),
Whenever my media team (Me, Soma and Nithya) is in canteen, it’s not just the coffee that is hot. Being a film enthusiastic lot, the atmosphere naturally gets heated up by cinema and just cinema.
Yesterday wasn’t different as she mentioned in her blog. Everything started with my remarks on the film “Salaam Cinema”, by celebrated Irani filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf. True to my inclination towards experimental filmmaking, I was excited about the concept of this documentary film, which the filmmaker’s tribute to the one hundredth anniversary of cinema.

The director holds a casting call for 100 actors to appear in his next film. 5000 people show up, some desperate, some bewildered, and some self-absorbed. Dozens of men and women stand in front of the camera and explain their reasons for coming. They all express a burning, sometimes desperate, desire to work in film. One young man has traveled hundreds of miles pretending to be a blind man because he thinks that will give him an edge. One young woman wants to become a movie star so she can travel to film festivals abroad and see her boyfriend, who has emigrated. Another young man thinks he looks like Paul Newman…etc

Finally, when the director explains to the auditioners that he or she has just played his or her part in the film, each is amazed, uncomprehending. They have very different conceptions of what a film and film-acting should be like. But Makhmalbaf explains at one point, "If cinema reflects social life, then it is for everyone."

Now that’s a quick review of “Salaam Cinema”. But topic of discussion was the objective of filmmaking. Soma was so adamant that every film should convey the message to each and every viewer ( A, B and C class audience as called in India). I was defending her statement. In my view every filmmaker need not think that he should reach everyone. On the objective of filmmaking let’s classify filmmakers as Crappy filmmakers (Agenda: No clue why they are making film), Safe-side filmmakers (Agenda: Successful films for their survival with all safety measures for the success of film), Beautiful filmmakers (Agenda: A beautiful film imitating another beautiful film done in past or in another industry), Experimental filmmakers (Agenda: Break all rules and creates new dimensions for filmmaking inspiring other filmmakers)

Federico Fellini’s '8 ½', Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s ‘Salaam Cinema’, Alexander Sokurov’s ‘Russian Arc’, T. V Chandran’s ‘Danny’ etc, follows this pattern of experimental cinema. They are above all the other categories of filmmaking. In fact when others can be called filmmker, they are the innovators or scientists in cinema.

I’m not against the objectives or other filmmakers. I equally enjoy a crappy film and an experimental film. My simple answer to Soma is that all filmmakers need not think that they have to reach every single viewer. When the other categories of filmmakers target general public, experimental filmmaker reaches or inspires another filmmaker. Now that is his objective. Films need not be for everyone, they can be targeted at a sector of audience too…It is great if a filmmaker becomes the subject of study for another filmmaker.

Sometimes I feel that learning filmmaking is killing the innocence in me to enjoy a crappy film. But at the same time I’m proud that the knowledge of filmmaking is giving some kind of social responsibility. Filmmaking is a mission as well as a passion above profession.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Born into Brothels
"I want to show in pictures how people live in this city. I want to put across the behavior of man." Gour (13) said.

Gour is one among the eight kids who communicated to audience through their photographs on the life of ‘NO' hope lived by those who dwell in red light area of Kolkata, in Zana Briski’s Oscar winning documentary film “Born into Brothels.” The other kids are – Avijit (11), Kochi (10), Manik (10), Puja (11), Shanti (11), Suchitra (14) and Tapasi (11) too.

A few weeks back I got a chance to see this documentary that left me deep in thought for hours. Whenever I am fascinated by something, the first thing I does is to google for more details on it. Undoubtedly the search on it led to so many facts on this film, the crew and its cast. Added to that, the controversial remarks as well as the critical rewards. Let me not try looking into the authenticity of it…Let me just be frank on what I loved about this film.

There are a few advantages documentary films have over any fiction. That is nothing but the flexibility on pre-production, production and post-production. Moreover, an uncertain nature of the past, present and future of the film as well as the hardwork and adventure involved in each stage of its fulfillment. A natural documentary filmmaker should have only one objective- to bring the truth in the most appealing form. Documentaries are hence appreciated for the innocence, influence, trustworthiness and reach of its content and not for the beauty or the form of film.

In both the ways “Born into Brothels” is a remarkable film. The content as well as form of this film touch the heart of any genuine viewer. Hats off to the very special thought of filmmaker for ‘living the film’ rather than just ‘doing the film’.

Briski, a documentary photographer, went to Kolkata (Calcutta) to photograph prostitutes. While there, she befriended their children and offered to teach the children photography to reciprocate being allowed to photograph their mothers. The children were given cameras so they could learn photography and possibly improve their lives. It is nothing but the photographs taken by the kids that tells you their story. The narration is by the kids themselves as well as the filmmaker. The children's work was exhibited, and one boy (Avijit) was even sent to a photography conference in Amsterdam. Briski also recorded her efforts to place the children in boarding schools.

Born into Brothels, by Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski, is the winner of the 77th annual Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. It is a tribute to the resiliency of childhood and the restorative power of art.

What we must be appreciating is the true interest filmmaker took to showcase facts though the eyes of children in the most innocent and touching manner as well as the excellent effort they took to save the children from their terrible reality. As a filmmaker I was fascinated by the style of naration, innocence of concept, smooth editing and creative placement of visuals. The music goes well with the mood. Three cheers for the filmmaker's efforts on this cause.

Visit the site:
http://www.kids-with-cameras.org for more.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Artist – in the journey of Art
The film showcases an artist in the journey of his Art. Here he undergoes two different stages of Art – An enlightenment stage & an excitement stage.


The camera discovers an artist getting enlightened of some thought, which he develops into his art. As the art work progresses he discovers himself as a part or the art. More than a creator he identifies himself as another dark stroke on his canvas. The symbols he derived from nature and the models gives him wings to fly on his Art. The sky, the leaves, the horse and finally the artist himself becomes the Art.

I thank my friend Vijaynarain for doing the magic of music with three different themes - The enlightment theme, The excitement theme and the rotation (The journey of art) theme, which coloured this black and white film in the mind of viewer.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My Suicide Note

"I am depressed ... without phone ... money for rent ... money for child support ... money for debts ... money!!! ... I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings & corpses & anger & pain ... of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners..."
This is the suicide note of Pulitzer Prize (Feature Photography) Winner South African photojournalist, Kevin Carter (September 13, 1960 – July 27, 1994).

A few weeks back while having a quick coffee in office canteen I and friend Shanmugavel had an interesting debate.

Shan asked me what I would do if some social injustice is happening on someone and if I’m the only one there to help him….Will I save him or will I let it happen so that I can photograph it and communicate it to others to show that such incidents occur in front of our eyes. His question was whether I would be a professional communicator or a humanitarian at that moment.

Taking a closer look, this is one question that lurks around a media professional when ever he or she has to face such an incident. Unlike others he needs to perform two tasks. He has to be a responsible communicator as well as a social worker.

Now getting back to Carter’s life,

In 1993, on a trip to Sudan’s worst Famine affected areas, Carter found a girl crawling towards a food camp, located a kilometer away. When the girl stopped for a while to rest, a vulture landed nearby. Later he said that he waited about 20 minutes, hoping that the vulture would spread its wings, so that he get a catchy-stunning visual. But it didn't. However, Carter snapped the haunting photograph and chased the vulture away.

The New York Times brought this pic, where it appeared for the first time on March 26, 1993 and hundreds of people contacted the newspaper to ask whether the child had survived. In fact they had to run a special editor's note saying the girl had enough strength to walk away from the vulture, but that her ultimate fate was unknown.

Kevin Carter was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography on May 23, 1994 at Columbia University's Low Memorial Library.

This made many communication guys wonder whether there is any difference between the photographer and the vulture on than space.

“The man adjusting his lens to take just the right frame of her suffering might just as well be a predator, another vulture on the scene.”

Both the species, the vulture and the communicator, cared only of their hunger.
Kevin Carter was the first to photograph a public execution by "necklacing" in South Africa in the mid-1980s. He defined it in this way:
"I was appalled at what they were doing. I was appalled at what I was doing. But then people started talking about those pictures... then I felt that maybe my actions hadn't been at all bad. Being a witness to something this horrible wasn't necessarily such a bad thing to do."

After reading about him I told this in my mind “Shan, Cartner’s suicide note is a precious gift for all media professionals. We had copied this note a million times, but hardly anyone is brave enough to take that last step taken by him “.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Artist

  • Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up: Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973), Spanish painter
  • Art is born of the observation and investigation of nature: Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC), Roman statesman
  • Abstract art is a product of the untalented, sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered. –Al Capp (1909 - 1979), American cartoonist
  • A painting in a museum hears more ridiculous opinions than anything else in the world. Edmond de Goncourt (May 26, 1822 – July 16, 1896), French writer
  • Art has never been made while thinking of art: Niko Stumpo
  • There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun. Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973), Spanish painter
  • Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. Scott Adams
  • Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere: G. K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936), writer
  • Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures. Henry Ward Beecher (1813 - 1887)

Friday, March 21, 2008

8s in Me

I was tagged by friend Neetu to answer these and share……
Frankly, at first glance this exercise found apt for my facebook or orkut account, but not for a blog. But doing it gave me a chance to revisit I, me & myself.
I invite you to try this...


8 things I'm passionate about:

1. Talking a lot - to young enthu lot.

2. Heights – Sky, Mountains etc
3. Greens & Grays – My colors.
4. Smell of camphor – An addiction.
5. Camera & Film – Capturing moods & moments.
6. Family – My sweet little world.
7. Animation – I’m a kid there.
8. Travel, Culture & Music – Exploring both history and geography.

8 things I want to do before I die- (no order)

> Make love to the most enthusiastic and passionate woman.
> View world from the highest possible altitude.
> Take class in a film institute.
> Do an animation film & a wild life documentary.
> Explore every inch of universe.
> Own a tree house amidst a forest & lake and live a Tarzan life.
> Get a book published.
> Make a film like 'Life is Beautiful', acting the role played by Roberto Benigni.

8 things I say often:

> OkaY
> Listen
> F**k
> As I told U
> Try
> Oops
> My goodness.
> Hey, Come on

8 books I've read recently

(FYI : “Recently” means ‘my entire life’ here)

> Crime and Punishment - This book gave me sleepless nights.
> Oru Sangeerthanam Poole (Malayalam) – The most romantic work read till date.
> Animal Farm – Undoubtedly a study material for Social Scientists.
> Short stories by Basheer, Ruskin Bond & O Henry
> Alchemist (Paulo Coelho) – Follow ur dreams.
> Veronica decided to die (Paulo Coelho) – Knowing the value of life.
> The Zaher (Paulo Coelho) - Yet another work searching the meaning of life.
> Sherlock Holms – An all time admirer of Holms for his simplicity and intellect.

8 songs I could listen to, over & over:

Tuff task, I must tell about Musicians... Mostly Instrumental collection – Folk, Blues, Sufi, Carnatic, Hindustani, Remix
etc

Songs
> Arial Boundaries – Michael Hedges

> Dessert Roses & Brand New Day - Sting
> Celestial Soda – Ray Lynch
> Enthoru & Aaroo – Vidyasagar
> Ferry Me Across Water – Kim Robertson
> Sister Drum – Dadawa
> Gurus of Peace - A R Rahman & Fateh Ali Khan
> El Vuelo

Musicians
> Sandeep Chowta
> Lucky Ali
> Kenny G
> Yanni
> Kitaro
> Vanessa Mai
> A R Rahman
> Sakir Hussain & Prem Joshua

8 things that attract me to my friends:

> Simplicity
> Openness & Optimism
> Enthusiasm & Energy
> Craze & Adventure
> Way of communication
> Dressing sense & neatness
> Smile
> Humor sense.

8 people I think should do this tag

Open to all.......Feel free to try this

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Contact Details
Arun Bose S
Ph: 0044 7865929837, Email: arunboses@gmail.com

Documentary films
Not a Drop of Rain – About 100 years of drought and lore in Kalahandi, Orissa. Produced by NFSC, Funded by Ford Foundation. Screened at NFSC.
Oh Tiraupati Listen – About the Mahabharatham festival of villages in and around Kanchipuram. Produced by NFSC for Kanchipuram Research Project by OSLO University, Norway. The film was well received at OSLO for a Workshop on Festivals.
Panguni Uttiram – About the Panguni Utiram festival celebrated at Ekambaranathar Temple, Kanchipuram. Produced by NFSC for Kanchipuram Research Project by OSLO University, Norway.
The Story of Mudugar – About the life of tribal group Mudugar
Moves, Blind Moves - About the life of a blind chess player, Dayalan,
Forever Heber - About the Culture and tradition of Bishop Heber Hall, MCC.
Man and Nature – Documentary film on Mannan Tribe, Kerala.

Short Concept films (Duration: less than 5 min)
My Paper Boat – Story of a little boy’s lose because of drought
The Artist – An artist’s stages of enlightenment and excitement.
Black/White/Brown – Celebration of equal opportunities.
The Butcher – A sad moment in butcher’s life.
Two ways together – A journey of two ends of life.
Is & Was – A definition for Man
Ups & Downs- A rat’s attempt to scale heights and falls.
Yours Truly – About a teacher and student.
Anthakshari – Celebration of diversity.
Mission Escape- A computer mouse trying to escape
Words – On the power of language.
Here we go – About inclusive society. Screened at Ability Foundation Fest.
V343 – A collection 3 funny short films
Chords of Life– A "Passion" statement.
Blue is Sky– A poetry on passion and love.
Face or Fall – A film on fear.
NextStop – A one min film on cruelty to animals


Short Films (less than 30 mins)
In Search of Peace – The story of an young man in search of peace.
My Mirror – A man’s life through his mirror’s point of view. Screened a fest by Multi-visual Academy

Ad/ Corporate Films
Men in Borland- Corporate Ad Film for Borland Technologies PVT LTD.
Corporate videos for Hexaware Technologies PVT. LTD.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Communication - Egos Vs Ethos

The idea of Communication is defined in manifold ways by many people at various point of time. Rather than the thought as a simple socio-cultural parameter this term had gained a scientific value with its mammoth need and utility to mankind. In fact there is no doubt in identifying it as the backbone of the structuring and growth of any society whether it is of human or of any other living being in the universe. The ways of communication alone varied from species to species - from time to time. Sound, action, text, visual etc…has been effectively used for years to perform this simple as well as complex task. A colony of ants to the new-media (Internet-telecommunication) social network by post-modern man utilizes the principles of communication for their day-to-day life.

Now it is the time for identifying communication scholars and scientists for new innovations in the structure of communication. Only a new innovation leads to a better innovation and hence living a natural life of survival alone cannot fulfill the need of time. It is quite interesting to see people running for their daily bread and gaining it. If the same person takes the same route and the same mode for the same quantity of bread for another ten days, it is ridiculous. Communication is also such an area where one shouldn't repeat the same mode and way for days and months.

Moreover communication has the power of creating unexpected ripples in the mindset of people and hence all that is communicated should be a right thought in a right way. We have advocates and doctors taking an oath identifying their profession as a responsible mission. At the same time a journalist, photographer or filmmaker is someone who comes to common man every other day propagating a thought or news. But while the service of a doc or Advocate becomes the choice of common man, the media person comes to him by default through his TV set or News Paper. This must be worst if the mode of communication is a repeated Ad film. It is like accepting anything and everything told by a priest because you tend to have a natural trust in him. Now don’t you think the oath of social responsibility is equally meaningful for a communication graduate?

Bagging a communication graduate tag and walk around sowing and reaping complication and confusion among people is not the aim of a journalist, PR- Ad executive, photographer or a filmmaker. He is not meant to work only for his daily bread. When I see myself or any of my communication friend’s money is an easy thing to gain. But identifying the profession of communication as a social responsibility is something different. You can see better actors among us who speak and think exactly opposite. The clash is mainly of egos and ethos. Hardly anyone feel themselves as a common man inside however he acts unnaturally outside as a man of real blood.

The society needs real good thinkers and innovators for good communication. The day when you throw away the timely pleasure of living for yourself thereby reading and reaching the pulse of common man you becomes a good communicator. You are made to propagate humanity and culture. Three Cheers for good Communication.