With any Anurag Kashyap film, one thing is for sure – a debate. A divided house. We are also swinging from one side to another with every new post on the film. This is Salik Shah‘s first post here. Read on..
That Girl In Yellow Boots is Kalki Koechlin’s debut as a filmmaker. It’s written all over the film. Anurag Kashyap just happened to be there while Rajeev Ravi was busy setting up his camera on the ‘stage.’ Except for one scene where Ruth smokes against the dazzling red screen, the audience never notices his camera tricks. There is one scene though — where they abruptly cut from a close up to a mid shot of the two protagonists who seem to have finally accepted the tragedy of their solitary existence— which seemed to be an attempt to tease the audience by not allowing them to have their ‘emotional cumshot’ exactly where they needed it.
Pulp Fiction is an old trick—but can provide little ‘happy endings’ in otherwise an unhappy film. The happy diversions in That Girl In Yellow Boots are just that. The sad thing is the mistiming. In an otherwise comic scene, where Ruth spins a story about her father’s death, a little mischief was desirable. A camera angle or two, hinting at her playfulness, where she appears brutally honest to the innocent criminal but palpably mischievous to us, might have been forgiven by the neo-realists. Excess is bad, but so is overt restraint.
Sound is a tricky affair; the jarring background score wasn’t called for at key scenes—or was it placed there to deny the audience any sympathy for Ruth? How I wish I could mute to listen deeply to Ruth’s silences… A minimalist approach might have further polarized the audience—but the result might have been a rewarding experience. Years ago, I couldn’t understand Nobody Needs to Know (Azazel Jacobs, 2003), but the expressionless, unfathomable face of its female lead has stayed with me. That Girl In Yellow Boots works in silence, often brilliantly.
There are people as they are—and many of AK’s assistants have verily filled in as Ruth’s steady customers. Prashant, however, is the film’s most visible link to the theater. The words he chooses, the way he moves—all seem to be a reminiscence of an era behind us. Be it in the Skeleton Woman, Ek, Do (FTII) or That Girl In Yellow Boots, he is there—loud, unchecked, mimicking himself. You can see that he is acting—a constant reminder of the film’s limitation.
Cinema is not an actively participatory experience like the theater. When the human contact is lost, you’ve to employ literary, theatrical or cinematic techniques to fuel the audience’s imagination to fill in the gaps in the visual narrative. That is why you get the unborn child manifested in Three Monkeys. That is why whole sequences in After the Rehearsal are devised to ‘mesmerize’ the audience. Here we get face to face with Ruth and Ben as they are—helpless, victims of their own doing, hopeless—all in a very straight-forward, good in a theatrical way.
If anything, it’s an exercise—for Anurag Kashyap, for you and for me. Why should it be anything else? Making a film is all that matters to him; while we go to great lengths to obtain and frame a fake poster of a pirated film! Strip the cinema of its greatness, please. Today every man with a camera is a filmmaker. While I don’t expect them to be Wong Kar-Wai or Tarkovsky—which they might very well be; they don’t need to be—I do believe if given a chance, they could be more authentic. It’s a good thing for cinema. It’s the new pen of our times; let them write; let us write with it. That’s indie. And no one seems to understand this better than this father of ‘Hindie.’