Posts Tagged ‘Celluloid Man’

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Pain is temporary, film is forever” – Michael J. Fox

Unfortunately, it is not. And neither are memories, both die, if not carefully preserved. Without memories, the past is a blank slate, existing in a space where we cannot touch it. Without a past we are a blank slate, forever trapped in a present that makes little sense. Films, like all our art, keeps our past safe, for us to delve into and understand how we came this far and, more importantly, where to go from here.

P.K. Nair understood this and scraped together our largely dissipated past, bit by bit, literally from across the country’s landscape and even beyond. What I felt when I heard that was sheer awe. And awe-inspiring is everything about Shivendra Singh Dungarpur’s documentary, “Celluloid Man”.

The film is the centre of attention right now, thanks to a much-deserved release (a shout out to the rare PVR Rare!), the National Awards, the Cannes selection and especially the centenary of our much-maligned yet much-beloved Hindi Film Industry. Much has been written about it so I’d like to simply share what the film did to me instead.

I like watching documentaries in the theatre. Especially our Indian docus which, by default, generally have a rusty appeal that somehow get an exotic aura in the hall. I also like everything old and forgotten; its romance and nostalgia, and the bitter-sweet pain that memories always bring with them. Celluloid Man, smelling of museums and ruins, was tailor-made for me. I walked in with the same excitement, same anticipation I had while watching Hugo, except that this was a bit more personal. This was about history that was specifically ‘mine’.

I settled down and there was this old, decrepit man detailing first-hand, his journey of collecting films and teaching a stubborn India the importance of preserving its history. How he salvaged the print of Dadasaheb Phalke’s ‘Kaliya Mardan’ and put the film together with little besides Phalke’s small notebook and his own diligence. How he travelled to remote corners of the country to collect film negatives, even bits. How Ardeshir Irani’s son confessed to having sold his father’s negatives for silver extraction. How he made prints of films that came to FTII for screening without bothering about permission. How he bargained and bartered copies of Indian films for foreign ones. His meeting with Langlois of Paris’ Cinematheque (I particularly loved how unimpressed he was about the meeting with what seemed-like a rather stuffy Langlois purely from the way Nair saab relates the meeting). And how much he now misses being close to what was probably the only love of his life, films.

But that was not all. The legendary man has a legendary memory of the location of every scene in every film he has archived. The NFAI under him collected 12,000 films, 8000 Indian and 4000 foreign. The mind boggles, yes. But that is not all, as he walked around FTII he also recollected memories of the old Prabhat Studios effortlessly. Of a certain make-up room at the then Prabhat Studios and now FTII campus that was Madhubala’s favourite. Of a certain wooden floor having a tank underneath to convert it for outdoor water sequences. Of the sturdy equipment still in use. Of Prabhat Studios being modelled on the best of Hollywood indoor studios. His memory and appetite for trivia seemed as marvellous as his legacy.

Even more marvellous was to watch the number of lives he touched. Lives of the very people who have created our celluloid history. It was immensely humbling to watch each one of them speak ever-so-warmly about their association with him. Of Girish Kasavaralli recalling how his thoroughly neglected Ghattashraddha was restored and archived. Of Jahnua Barua talking of how Nair saab helped him out by giving him a much-need job which he suspects was an unofficial arrangement. Of an aged Jaya Bachchan recalling with the pride of a young student how she was the only girl allowed for night screenings because Nair saab vouched for her dedication. Of Naseeruddin Shah gleefully talking of surreptitious screenings of censored cuts. Of Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s awe at being handed the print of Godard’s Breathless to study for as long as he wished. He came across as this strict Guru, dedicated to authentic instruction and learning, willing to go to any lengths to open up a student’s horizons if he sensed the hunger. And of Gulzar saab warmly (rightly) placing him next to Dadasaheb Phalke in importance to our film history.

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The film packed in bytes with so many important film personalities, right from Sitara Devi, that it felt like some sort of a masterclass in itself. Maybe it is to accommodate their presence then, it has a loose structure. It pans out as a long-winded stroll down memory lane piecing together the painstaking effort of Nair saab’s work with the sole purpose of celebrating the man and his achievements through his and other’s eyes. I didn’t mind the rather meandering and sometimes repetitive narrative solely because this is one film that proves Roger Ebert wrong. The ‘what’ matters more than the ‘how’. Besides, where do you ever get to listen to the likes of Adoor Gopalkrishnan, Kumar Shahani, Gulzar saab, Saeed Mirza and Shyam Benegal at length, at one place?

The film is an unabashed ode, yet, Shivendra Singh Dungarpur takes care to include controversies surrounding the exclusion of Nair saab post his retirement. Neither does he shy away from asking him a tough question, framing his habit of making copies without permission as ‘stealing’. And keeping the camera rolling through an uncomfortable silence and a louder repetition of the question. It could have been edited out but it wasn’t.

He also goes beyond the purview of Nair saab’s work, into his personal life to give us a better glimpse of the man. Unacknowledged, but I was dreading this part. When have men with a singular passion ever had happy personal lives? What followed were long and touchingly forthcoming interviews with Beena Nair, his daughter who confessed how father was never available during her and her brother’s childhood. But now things had changed as she had accepted that it wasn’t lack of love for them but too much love for films that kept him away. I didn’t want to look at her face closely or read her emotions because it seemed like a preciously personal part of her past she was sharing, who am I to peek into someone’s pain? It touched a raw nerve nevertheless. Having an emotionally unavailable parent isn’t easy, I have one. Besides, there is this incident from childhood sharply imprinted on my memory that it sruck. My father is a huge fan of the Gujarati shayar/poet Mareez. He quotes him off-handedly at any point with a look of pure bliss. Once, he had the opportunity to meet him, that too at his home. My gushing dad asked Mareez to recite a few lines for him and Mareez saab obliged. After the recital, his daughter came forward and thanked my father and said something like, ‘Thanks to you we heard father’s poetry today. He never shares anything with us, ever. He is in his own world, it’s like we don’t exist.’ As a child I understood the girl, as an older person with a few insistent passions of her own, I understand Mareez and Nair saab too today. Passion does that. Separates you from everything. You are alone in it, because there you are already with that one thing you love, you don’t need anyone else.

In more than two hours, what I saw unfold onscreen was a meta experience. A while into the film and it became difficult for me to distinguish between Nair’s passion for films and Dungarpur’s for Nair saab’s work. Because, passion, after all has only one language and if you speak it you understand it and Shivendra Singh Dungarpur clearly does. It made me emotional to see that kind of drive for something considered unimportant and a mere commodity. Because, in my eyes, what the two men had done was save me a chunk of my history, not only as culture but as art via the very medium I love so much. How can I thank them enough for that?

I am leaving you with some of the quotes from the film that stayed with me. (might not be verbatim)

You can see a hundred years from now; you can see a certain aspect of life which was there only at the time, on that day. It means a lot. It means more than Greek Tragedy where everything is heightened beyond compare. But those very small things get so beautifully manifest (on film). It is the very, I think, soul of art of any kind.” -Kumar Shahani

(It is important for us to preserve our past because) “We have a rich past but a very poor history, whereas the West has a significant past. (Perhaps) Not a rich past, but a very significant history.” – U. R. Ananthamurthy

Before P.K.Nair, there was no one else. After P.K. Nair there is no one else.” – Shyam Benegal

As an archivist I cannot accept that we have lost forever the print of Raja Harishchandra”. – P.K. Nair

As a film lover, I cannot accept that either. But at least we had Nair saab.

I don’t remember the last time I felt so raw while watching a film.

FATEMA KAGALWALA

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We don’t have a culture of documenting our history.

We don’t have a history of making great documentaries.

We don’t have documentaries on our “real heroes”.

And this is why Shivendra Singh Dungarpur’s Celluloid Man is such an important film, which stands tall on those three parameters. It’s about a real hero who has documented our cinematic history, and it’s a documentary on his life and passion.

I had missed the screening few times in the past and finally managed to catch it recently. The name is P.K.Nair. His designation sounds even boring – Archivist. Sounds almost clerical – someone who archives stuff. What separates Mister Nair from his designation and the rest is just one thing – passion. And this film does complete justice to that man and his undying passion for cinema.

Chances are you might not have heard his name if you have not been to FTII or not friends with FTII graduates. He is the man responsible for National Film Archive Of India, popularly known as NFAI. Starting literally from scratch, P K Nair built it up slowly – reel by reel, can by can, film by film. No wonder that you ask him about a scene and he can tell you which reel and which can has it. Celluloid Man is his story – how he built NFAI, the way he travelled to various places in search of those rare films which most didn’t care about.

The film runs on two tracks. One traces Nair’s personal story – starting from Nair’s childhood in Kerala to how he wanted to become filmmaker and how he landed up at FTII and started NFAI. Some of the well known faces from FTII recount their younger days at the Institute and talk about Nair saab. And then you realise that his contribution is much more than just being an archivist. It’s about shaping up those young bright minds.

The other one is about building NFAI – this has intersecting anecdotes about collecting those precious films by travelling to remote places, and sometimes even opting for illegal routes for a greater cause. Dungarpur balances it well by scratching the uncomfortable surface too – was it one-upmanship, why NFAI is hostile to Nair now and such.

It feels bit long at the running duration of more than 2 hours (2:24 exactly i think, not sure which version is releasing), and the director’s sudden voice-over feels odd which doesn’t gel well with the film as the rest of it is through Nair saab’s words. But those are just minor issues in this mammoth task of documenting this important part of our cultural history so beautifully. If you are film lover, WATCH IT. If you are not, watch it just to know how to define Passion and Commitment.

The initial portions of the film is shot gorgeously, almost like a dream, feels some kind of daze. And then there’s a heartbreaking surreal sequence of silver being extracted from film reels by those who understand only commerce. The horror! Horror! i shouted in my head.

And this film could not have come at a better time. If there’s one person who needs to be celebrated at the occasion of 100 years of cinema, it’s Nair saab. If nothing else, at least this documentary serves that purpose. Thanks, Shivendra.

– The film is being released by PVR Directors Rare on May 3rd. Don’t Miss this one.

– To know more about the film, click here.

– DearCinema has a detailed review of the film from IFFLA. Click here to read.

(PS – My fav quote is about gym in FTII. I guess that says a lot about our current cinema too)

@CilemaSnob

This post is bit late. But here’s Mohit Patil‘s notes from PIFF, 2013. And as his twitter bio goes, he loves films and scotch. For films, the recco list is here. For scotch, you can ask him on twitter.

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First things first, this was the most awesomely organised edition of PIFF. They not only made sure that we got to watch great films from around the world, but also end up learning the basics of film projection before the fest concluded. For most of the screenings took place only after someone from the audience helped the projection operator with his job – like explaining what subtitles are, helping him change the aspect ratio, explaining the difference between the original audio track and the Director’s Commentary, telling him that talking on the phone in the projection booth is bad manners etc.

Anyway, here’s what I thought of the films I saw at the Pune International Film Festival 2013 –  The old ones and the new ones, the shorts, the documentaries, feature films, everything.

[ Title (Director, Country, Year, Section under which the film was screened) ]

Epilogue (Amir Manor, Israel, 2012, Opening film):

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(Another short paragraph and I’ll be done with the rant, I promise)

I was in a terrible state of mind when I saw this one. They delayed the screening by an hour, then started the film without subtitles, and then after half the delegates had walked out disappointed and about half an hour of hunting for a PIFF authority (and eventually finding none) began the film. Only to allow the projectionist to talk (read: shout, yell, scream etc.) on the phone for a full 45 minutes.

I came across this review by Leda Galanou which nicely sums up what I thought of, from whatever I could grasp of this mess of a sceening of a fine little film.

Story Of A Love Affair (Michelangelo Antonioni, Italy, 1950, Retrospective) :

                                          “Giovanna separated us in life… And in death…”

This debut feature film of the Italian master Michelangelo Antonioni is as entertaining as it is a meticulous study of its characters stuck in a labyrinth of guilt, paranoia, wild lust and reluctant pragmatism, and a theme common to quite a few Antonioni films – characters replete with material needs but craving for emotional/spiritual solace. The film throws basic noir elements at us right from the beginning, where a private detective investigates about a certain Paola Molon for her rich suspicious husband, ironically causing Paola to meet and eventually start seeing her former lover after years. And what follows is a dark, incisive Hitchcockian trip.

The Fifth Season Of The Year (Jerzy Domaradzki, Poland, 2012, World Competition):

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The opening 5 minutes of the film are highly misleading. It opens with a picturesque long shot of the sea, sunset and a boat enters the frame, all this accompanied by a quaint piano; followed by a close up of a kohl eyed woman playing with a cigarette lighter; the kind of opening which prepares us for a film blatantly art-house in nature. The rest of the film, however, is nice fluffy entertainment: a romcom-cum-roadtrip movie, and a very likable one. The charm lies in its simplicity and although it doesn’t really offer anything you haven’t seen before, it’s the fine strokes Domaradzki paints the characters with, largely aided by the actors that made this one work for me. After one film  screening full of sulking and another one which was a great film, but a tiring watch too, this film came as a whiff of fresh air.

Kaliya Mardan (D.G.Phalke, India, 1919, 100 Years Of Indian Cinema) :

The film by Dadasaheb Phalke based on Little Krishna’s mischiefs in the neighbourhood and his endeavor to conquer the giant snake Kaliya was the first Indian film to employ special effects. While Ms.Mandakini Phalke steals the show as Krishna, and the film might be historically significant with respect to Indian cinema, it was a bit of a slog and didn’t really work for me. Full film is available on youtube here.

Duvidha (Mani Kaul, India, 1973, 100 Years Of Indian Cinema) :

Duvidha is based on the same Rajasthani folk legend as Amol Palekar’sPaheli. The story has been narrated through voice-over, allowing the haunting imagery to take over the film, and how! The dialogues are minimal, the frames mostly consist of reds and whites, the camera is mostly static and the actors do little but stare at something or someone. And Kaul incredibly employs this hyper de-dramatized style to amplify the eventual pay off. You can watch the entire film on YouTube here.

(P.S. Since Paheli treats the story as a wicked comedy-cum-romance, an approach completely different than Kaul’s, I’m salivating at the idea of Vishal Bhardwaj making his version of Paheli. Anyone?)

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 Short Films – Live Action shorts by students:

Allah Is Great (25 min, A foreigner in a politically tense region and his Indian cab driver): The film quite smoothly shepherds us through the journey of and the conversations between the foreigner, who’s  here for a conference and his cab driver who’s a die hard film buff, a bade dilwala, and ardently religious. I’m still unsure of the purpose of the inclusion of one of the subplots here. And the film makes me appreciate the ending more than I would have on paper.

Back Against The Wall (14 min, A girl desperately wants the attendant at a shop to know something) : I’d be spoiling it for you if I say anything about the story. All I can tell you about are the performances and the atmosphere, and both are very good here.

Last Calls (22 min, A 17-something girl dials the numbers last dialed by her departed sister) : Wow! This one hits all the right notes. Has a very strong emotional core and terrific mood too. Completely different tonally and structurally, but it reminded me of another favourite of mine, Vihir.

(This was the last of the short films section. Over to feature films.)

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Rose (Wojciech Smarzowski, Poland, 2011, World Competition) :

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It’s Summer of 1945 and we are in Masuria, a German territory before the war but granted to Poland afterwards. The war is the backdrop and the emphasis is on the two main characters living together under brooding circumstances. Shot in greyish-greenish quasi-monochrome, the film doesn’t shy away from showing us the horrific consequences of war – personal lives shattered by macro-level political moves, but instead of going for kitschy manipulation, it wisely and effectively uses these as devices to develop the relationship between Rose, the widow of a soldier and his colleague who happens to stay with her.

Celluloid Man (Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, India, 2012, 100 Years Of Indian Cinema):

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The first “Wow!” of the fest. The 164 minute documentary traces the life and work of one of arguably one of the greatest contributors towards Indian cinema not as a filmmaker but as a film archivist : the founder of National Film Archive of India, P.K.Nair. The film begins with a vivid image where we see P.K.Nair juxtaposed against  a scene from Citizen Kane playing on the screen behind him. And the film before us, much like the film playing in the background, builds a fascinating sketch, mostly through interviews, of a towering personality. Through a series of interviews with some important figures of Indian parallel cinema, with each giving insight into Mr.Nair’s life – how he would acquire films from the archives abroad or from the families of the early pioneers, some admitting with a smile and a coy pride that some of their films exist today simply because of Mr. Nair’s relentless and unbiased passion for film preservation. Interspersed with footages from classics, and talks with Mr.Nair himself about his childhood memories with cinema, his “Rosebuds” and how cinema became a part of him and vice versa; the film is a tribute to a man who Indian cinema owes its history to, a fascinating trip to the early cinema, and an important film asserting the importance of film archiving in a country that boasts of its cutural prosperity. What’s more, the screening took place at NFAI and was graced by Mr.Nair’s presence.

The film is scheduled for release in March.  Click here for the teaser. 

Short Films – Legends We Remember:

I Am Twenty (S.N.S Sastry): This epic docu-short was made in 1967, when independent India was exactly 20. Through a series of interviews with the then-20-year-olds hailing from diverse cultural backgrounds and strata and holding diverse interests and ambitions; the film serves as a sprawling essay on the then past, present and future of India with respect to personal, professional, societal, and cultural spheres through its youth; their dreams and their fears, their interaction with the country, and their take on the varied phenomena India was going through then.

Explorer (Pramod Pati):

Pramod Pati’s exceptional Explorer(1968), a highly abstract experimental short can be said to be a hefty companion piece to ‘I Am Twenty’. If Sastry used conversations with youngsters as a device to present a comprehensive picture of India, Pati shows India torn between past and future, science and religion through a mosaic of random, sequentially rhythmic shots using elemental components of cinema: camera movements, the sounds accompanying every shot and swift focus shifts dexterously.

You can watch the film here.

(P.S. Some other films by Pramod Pati are available on Youtube. Here are the links: a) Trip/Udan   b) ABID c) Claxplosion d) Six, Five, Four, Three, Two. )

(Essential reading: 1) A superb exhaustive essay on ‘Explorer’ by Just Another Film Buff

2) Excavating Indian Experimental Film by Shai Heradia 

3) Pramod Pati – The Cinema Of Pra-Yoga, Of Swa-Bhava by Amrit Gangar)

Arrival (Mani Kaul):

Through incessant shots of jam-packed crowd and of the action of eating (consuming), Arrival is a cold, stirring look at the exploitation of life to cater to industrial needs. And even here, Kaul lets the visuals do the talking and the technique is used to maximum effect in one of the most chilling moments of the film, when we’re given a detailed visual account of sheep being brought in, unpeeled and slaughtered, treated like objects; cut to shots of labourers who, much like the sheep, are mere pawns of a much larger commerce.

Daastan-E-AlamAra (Chetan Mathur):

This short uses some 30 stills from Alam Ara that have managed to survive (the film itself is not available anymore) and employs a lyrical narrative written by Kaifi Azmi and sung by Jagjit Singh (citation needed) to plot the story of India’s first talkie. Sounds interesting on paper? Well, the film, sadly, is pitiably insipid.

Khilonewala (S Sukhdev):

The disappointing ‘Khilonewala’ begins with saccharine event when a bunch of children gather around a Khilonewla and he makes faces and sings for them. It was after an assortment of goons (Amrish Puri in multiple roles, to underline the fact that crime has no class or religion) encircle the Khilonewala that the film begins to get unbearable. You can watch it here.

Mandi (Shyam Benegal, India, 1983, Tribute – Ashok Mehta) :

Mandi (Market) satirizes the interpersonal relationships between people directly or indirectly associated with a brothel when a social activist decides to eradicate prostitution from the town. For me, it was darkly funny with some sharp observations and  ironies, but ultimately vacuous.

I.D. (Kamal K.M, India, 2012, Indian Cinema Today):

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Another Indian Wow! Here, we have a taut, nuanced thriller that transcends the limitations of the “quest to find someone’s identity” sort of films and presents a complex and intriguing portrayal of obsession, and the ambiguity and elusiveness of one’s “identity” as our protagonist gets sucked from her laidback life shot sharply in robust colours into the dusky blue-tinted world of digression. I was quite impressed. The film is produced by Resul Pookutty and Rajeev Ravi, and I don’t see a reason why it shouldn’t find a release. Don’t miss it when it does. And be warned, the official trailer floating online contains a spoiler.

Blow Up (Michelangelo Antonioni, USA, 1966, Retrospective)

Thomas, a fashion photographer spends most of his time clicking the most glamorous “birds” (sic) in the business, who he is fed up of being with. He clicks informal photographs of a couple in a garden and spots a man with a gun hiding in the bushes when he develops them. He visits the garden the next day, finds the corpse lying there and soon intrigue turns into obsession. The film rightfully doesn’t even care to tell us any more about the murder and Antonioni’s Blow Up is really a solemn rumination of its central character’s emotional solitude and his dire pursuit of the feeling of having done something remarkable. For me, it served as a languid companion piece to the somewhat dynamic Taxi Driver. And it’s the muted final scene of Blow Up that takes it to an all new meditative high. Mind Blown Up.

My Father’s Bike (Piotr Trzaskalski, Poland, 2012, Global Cinema)

My Father’s Bike, a delicately crafted family drama with not one, but two sour father-son relationships at its core. The film, instead of judging its characters, gives us a warm coming-of-age picture of a family with its members innocuously flawed and imperfect. In other words, human; but unforgivably so among themselves. And there’s some very good acting at display.

With You, Without You (PrassannaVithanage,Sri Lanka/India, 2012,Global Cinema)

With You, Without You, based on Dostoyevsky’s short story “The Meek One”; designed and scored in blues making us feel the gloominess; is a tenderly composed and deeply moving film about a personal relationship ruptured irreparably by politically influenced deeds of the past.

Night #1 (Anne Emond, Canada, 2011, Global Cinema)

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Night #1 could well be described as a darker, more Bergman-esque version of Before Sunrise. Oh, and quite brilliant. Through their profoundly bleak yet romantic monologues, the two characters open themselves up to each other, revealing their true inner fractured selves after a one-night stand.

Laurence Anyways (Xavier Dolan, France/Canada, 2012, Global Cinema)

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Initially, I was sort of put off by Dolan’s music video like style and wasn’t sure what to make of certain sequences. It was after some pondering that the film started to grow. The film tracks over a decade of Lawrence Alia’s life and relationships and remarkably makes us sense not only the protagonist’s physical transformation but her emotional journey as well. And with a lot of heart.

Liv & Ingmar (Dheeraj Akolkar, Norway/UK/India, 2012):

Note: I’m fully aware that it’s unfair to opine about a film one hasn’t seen completely.

Implication of the Note: I walked out.

This utterly frustrating documentary about the off-screen relationship between the legendary Ingmar Bergman and his muse-cum-wife Liv Ullmann makes some terrible choices: it chooses peripheral cutesy over insight, shows us random shots of pretty landscapes which make no sense whatsoever in context and intersperses that with clips from Bergman’s films which are so literally synonymous (and thus redundant) with the lines spoken (by Liv Ullmann in the interviews) that it insults the the medium of cinema itself. I myself am a Bergman fanboy but I can’t even give ‘Liv & Ingmar’ the least respectable pass(?) a film can get, that “it’s strictly for fans.”

Heck, even ‘Mohabbatein…’ was less schmaltzy. Cons of going for a film without watching the trailer. Sigh.

80 Million (Waldemar Krzystek, Poland, 2011, World Competition) :

Beginning with dense details and lots of jargon about a confrontation between communists and the opposition in Poland, what we find here is a rather entertaining heist movie about a group of Solidarity activists who conspire to withdraw 80 million of the Union money from a bank before their account would be blocked. And it was refreshing to see a film that declares that it was “based on true events” only in the end credits.

The Adventure (Michelangelo Antonioni, Italy/France, 1960, Global Cinema):

Much like Antonioni’s ‘Story Of A Love Affair’, we have a couple madly in love but separated by the dead, by their conscience. And much like a theme common to a lot of his films, it is a study of the emotional isolation of its characters and the complexity of love.

Clip (Maja Milos, Serbia, 2012, Global Cinema):

The disconcerted Clip is crammed-to-the-point-of-rupture with scenes of hyper-explicit sex (so much so that it has little else to offer for most part) and often tested my patience. It’s only towards the end that the film begins to work as an unruly depiction of the wayward, disturbingly nonchalant and shallow youth of urban Serbia. And all those scenes, which had seemed showy earlier, start making sense rendering the film with meaning. A one that takes forever to arrive at its point? Yes, and may be no. May be, the indulgence is the point here. May be the director wants the film to be a metaphor for its characters. Boy, that was repulsive in parts, often repetitive, but ultimately trippy. And a special mention for Jelena Mitrovic, who is absolutely terrific as the disillusioned, riotous Jasna.

Chidambaram (Govind Aravindan, India, 1985, Retrospective):

The imagery and expressive silences render the languidly paced Chidambaram effectively with the meditative quality it was supposed to have.  Aravindan explores the personal spiritual journey of Shankaran battling his own conscience.

After its premiere at the Telluride Film festival, Shivendra Singh Dungarpur’s documentary, Celluloid Man will soon be screened at the Mumbai Film Festival. Here’s the first teaser of the film.

Here’s more on the film from its official FB page…

Celluloid Man is a tribute to an extraordinary man called Mr. P.K. Nair, the founder of the National Film Archive of India, and the guardian of Indian cinema. He built the Archive can by can in a country where the archiving of cinema is considered unimportant.

The fact that the Archive still has nine precious silent films of the 1700 silent films made in India, and that Dadasaheb Phalke, the father of Indian cinema, has a place in history today is because of Mr. Nair. He influenced generations of Indian filmmakers and showed us new worlds through the prism of cinema.

As Mr. Nair speaks, we see the history of Indian cinema unfold. What emerges is a portrait of a man so in love with cinema that even his family had to take a backseat to his obsession. Mr. Nair is not just the founder of the National Film Archive, but a living, breathing museum of cinema. Even in retirement, he chooses to stay across the road from the Archive watching over his legacy. The fact that India has a cinematic heritage at all is the singlehanded achievement of this man.

He is truly India’s Celluloid Man. There will be no one like him again.

Cinematography: Santosh Thundiyil, K.U. Mohanan, Avik Mukhopadhyay, P.S. Vinod, H.M. Ramachandra, R.V. Ramani, Vikas Sivaraman, Mahesh Aney, Kiran Deohans, Ranjan Palit, V.Gopinath

Editor: Irene Dhar Malik

Sound Design: Mohandas

Music: Ram Sampath

Titles/Online: Huzefa Lokhandwala, Santosh Sabherwal

Associate Director & Research: Manju Parvathy Iyer

Post Production: Pixion, Prime Focus. Processing: Kodak, EFX Prasad

– 35mm; English with Subtitles; Duration: 163 mins

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; Dolby 5.1; Colour / B&W

To know more about the film, click here for its Facebook page.

Last few years of Mumbai Film Festival have been wet dreams for any film buff. The game was simple – they picked up all the winners and nominees from all the top film festivals of the world. This year’s list is yet to be out but some titles have been confirmed. And going by these titles, it seems like they are on right track this year too.

  • Among the big ones are Rust and Bone by Jacques Audiard (was in competition at Cannes), Walter Salles’ On The Road and Blancanieves (Snow White) by Pablo Bergera, a reinvention of the Brothers Grimm classic.
  • Nandini Ramnath’s report in Mint Lounge has confirmed few more titles. This includes Michael Haneke’s Amour, David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, Ken Loach’s The Angels’ Share, Danish films A Royal Affair and The Hunt, Kauwboy and this year’s fest favourite Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild.
  • Almost all the films have been doing the festival rounds. Amour won the Palme d’Or and Loach won the Jury prize at the Cannes film festival this year. A Royal Affair was in competition at the Berlin Film Festival and The Hunt was in competition at Cannes where its actor Mads Mikkelsen bagged the trophy for the best actor. Kauwboy bagged the best First Feature award at the Berlin Film Festival.
  • Among the documentaries are Alison Klayman’s Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry and Shivendra Singh Dungarpur’s Celluloid Man which we have been tracking for a long time. Klayman bagged a special jury prize at the Sundance Fest.
  •  There’s also going to be a long list of classics, black & white gems and silent films. Some of the confirmed titles are Franz Osten’s A Throw of Dice (1929), Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard (1963), Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America(1984), Dhundiraj Govind Phalke’s Kaliya Mardan, Osten’s Shiraz, Baburao Painter’s Muraliwala (1927) and Sati Savitri (1927), Robert Rossellini’s The Machine That Kills Bad People (1952), Visconti’s Senso (1954), Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Accattone (1961), Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist (1970), Federico Fellini’s Roma (1972), Quo Vadis (1913), and Nanni Moretti’s Dear Diary (1993).
  • Indiewire’s report has also confirmed few more titles which have been restored. The Twentieth Century Fox Archive will present 8 films spanning 40 years in the ‘Fox Classics’ series. This includes Sunrise (1928), How Green Was My Valley(1941), Laura (1944), Leave Her to Heaven(1945), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), Wild River(1960), The Leopard and Two for the Road(1967).
  • Seven other films which have been restored will also be screened. This includes Satyajit Ray’s Charulata(1964), The Chess Players (1977), The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1945), Uday Shankar’s Kalpana (1948), Once Upon A Time In America and The Cineteca Bologna will present two silent Italian silent classics.
  • Festival Dates : 18-25 October, 2012.
  • Venue : NCPA and INOX. Can anyone confirm if Cinemax Versova will also have screenings or not?
  • Shifting the venue to South Bombay is a strange decision when the film industry and related people seems to be mostly from suburbs. If you had been to Cinemax Versova for last year’s fest, you know the kind of crowd it attracted. And at the same time screenings at Metro and Cinemax Sion were going almost empty. I might be biased because Andheri (west) suits me best and travelling in Bombay is quite exhausting. So putting up a poll here.

Telluride Film Festival has finally unveiled its line-up for this year. And Shivendra Singh Dungarpur’s documentary film “Celluloid Man : A Film on P K Nair” will have its screening at the fest. According to official release, it will be part of Telluride’s intimate screening room which features behind-the-scenes movies and portraits of artists, musicians and filmmakers.

(Click on the pics to enlarge)

Here’s more on the film from its official FB page…

Celluloid Man is a tribute to an extraordinary man called Mr. P.K. Nair, the founder of the National Film Archive of India, and the guardian of Indian cinema. He built the Archive can by can in a country where the archiving of cinema is considered unimportant.

The fact that the Archive still has nine precious silent films of the 1700 silent films made in India, and that Dadasaheb Phalke, the father of Indian cinema, has a place in history today is because of Mr. Nair. He influenced generations of Indian filmmakers and showed us new worlds through the prism of cinema.

As Mr. Nair speaks, we see the history of Indian cinema unfold. What emerges is a portrait of a man so in love with cinema that even his family had to take a backseat to his obsession. Mr. Nair is not just the founder of the National Film Archive, but a living, breathing museum of cinema. Even in retirement, he chooses to stay across the road from the Archive watching over his legacy. The fact that India has a cinematic heritage at all is the singlehanded achievement of this man.

He is truly India’s Celluloid Man. There will be no one like him again.

Cinematography: Santosh Thundiyil, K.U. Mohanan, Avik Mukhopadhyay, P.S. Vinod, H.M. Ramachandra, R.V. Ramani, Vikas Sivaraman, Mahesh Aney, Kiran Deohans, Ranjan Palit, V.Gopinath

Editor: Irene Dhar Malik

Sound Design: Mohandas

Music: Ram Sampath

Titles/Online: Huzefa Lokhandwala, Santosh Sabherwal

Associate Director & Research: Manju Parvathy Iyer

Post Production: Pixion, Prime Focus. Processing: Kodak, EFX Prasad

– 35mm; English with Subtitles; Duration: 163 mins

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; Dolby 5.1; Colour / B&W

To know more about the film, click here for its Facebook page.