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’.