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Wide Screen Special Issue on Indian Cinema is online

cover 5.1The latest issue of Wide Screen, a special issue titled The Unseen Century: Indian Cinema 1913-2013, edited by Kartik Nair and Kuhu Tanvir is now online. The issue can be accessed here.

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Terrible trends at Bollywood award shows

It’s Labor Day weekend here in the US and I just watched IIFA, the very last of Bollywood award shows for the films and stars of 2012. Beginning some time in March, the award show season is peppered with glitzy lights, star-studded performances, terrible starry humor and (mostly objectionable and dissatisfying) awards. We’ve all spent many cocktail parties discussing these often cringe-worthy awards, but this year I noticed something much more disturbing—a normalization of distinctly religious Hindu aesthetics and a strange erasure of female stars as actors and active contributors to the industry.

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Filmfare covers from the 1950s

1957 madhubala-filmfare-1957-magazine2 (1)Click on Wide Screen’s Facebook page for a random collection of Filmfare covers from the 1950s, found from various sources online:

CLICK HERE

 

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100 Years of Indian Cinema: Whose Cinema? Whose Centenary? – The Politics of Temporal Film Historiography

Forgetting, I would even go so far as to say historical error is a crucial
factor in the creation of a nation, which is why progress in historical
studies often constitutes a danger for [the principle of] nationality.
 —Ernest Renan,
Qu’est que c’est une nation? 

Quoting Ernest Renan, the famous British historian, Daniel Woolfe (2006), wrote not long ago that the national framework predominates in historiography and the temporal scope of the same is anchored along four premises. “…four variants of temporal scope. [Read more →]

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Last men standing

Harry Belafonte as the last man alive in The World, The Flesh and The Devil

Will Smith as the last man alive in I am legend

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Early colour motion pictures

The world’s first colour motion picture was stumbled upon in the National Media Museum, Bradford last year

And Kodak’s earliest colour film:

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PHD The Movie

All those individuals who have already or are planning to trade their souls and brains to undertake the masochistic journey of a PhD (that should already put you off) here’s something to make your day just a little bit more depressing. The folks at PhD comics have released the movie, PHD (Piled Higher and Deeper). Watch it. What do you think?

 


 

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The madness of Ram Gopal Varma?

Image of RGV with Surya

Ram Gopal Varma with Surya (Image from Wikimedia)

Ram Gopal Varma has been panned and flamed by critics for his mediocrity (here), being hysterical and gimmicky (here), and like the prodigal son who has lost his way (here). There is also the reported trading of insults between Karan Johar and RGV (here). The proverbial dirt from the laundry is all over the web for interested voyeurs to unravel. This post is not about what are considered RGV’s failures. While we are aware of his abilities to make thrillers and cult characters (Shiva, Satya, Company), his abilities in directing films that subtly poke fun at the “Indian film” without upsetting the “average viewer” are perhaps under-explored and with good reason. The background noise from his many films with the B conventions obscure his record in making some interesting comedy films that do not reduce filmmaking to a series of skits. Three films that come to my mind are Kshana Kshanam (Dir, Telugu) and Rangeela (Dir, Hindi) and Money (Prod, Telugu).

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All that’s Indie

Lately, I’ve been scouting around on the Web to find good sources of independent films, and in the process I have found some great films, met some interesting filmmakers and found sites that allow us to watch independent films for free.

Here’s a small sampler of the stuff that I found and I can recommend.

First up is a film by an up and comer, Shuchi Talati. It is a beautiful film called Mae and Ash about a young couple who are in an open relationship. Watching this film I realized how much control it takes to make a film that is so silent and yet so full of emotion. Shuchi has been nice enough to share her film with me, though as of now it is not available online. A trailer of sorts can be found at:  https://vimeo.com/61106015. The film is being screened at the Atlanta Film Festival and the Queens World Film Festival. I am hoping that it will be available online once these screenings are done. Watch this space for when it does. (More info at: http://www.queensworldfilmfestival.com/films/detail.asp?fid=293)

Up next is a site called artbarricade that is coming up as an interesting platform not just for discussions about art (and art-related events), but from the look of it, also independent films. As of now it has a small archive of films and videos, some generated by their own personnel. I particularly like Pallavi Paul’s Nayi Kheti. I think it is a thoughtful and well-crafted deliberation on ideas of rhythm and movement as they find common ground in poetry and cinema. Here’s a link to the site (the film is embedded on the homepage if you scroll down a little): http://artbarricade.org/

Among sites where you can find independent films to watch for free, there is: http://www.indiemoviesonline.com/ and also http://indieflix.com/ (this one is not entirely free, it has some free content and a free trial). Indieflix is also a platform for new filmmakers to submit their film to a dedicated audience of cinephiles and fellow filmmakers.

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Lemon Tree, five years hence

As some might remember, I had written a review of Eran Riklis’s 2008 film Etz Limon (Lemon Tree) for the inaugural issue of Wide Screen (1.1). I recently re-watched the film when I screened it at the University of Pittsburgh which is currently my home. I was surprised by the differences in my response to the film was this time around.

Here’s a link to the very short response piece I wrote recently: http://www.fsgso.pitt.edu/2013/02/fiver-years-lemon-tree/

Here’s a link to the original review in WS: http://widescreenjournal.org/index.php/journal/article/view/23/28

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