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Category — Film Policy

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 →]

August 5, 2013   2 Comments  

Pirating history

A few hours ago the Minister of Information and Broadcasting here in India, Ms Ambika Soni announced that on the occasion of hundred years of Indian cinema (which is next year by popular account), her ministry has assigned Rs. 500 crore  in the next five-year plan for setting up the National Heritage Mission that aims to digitize and restore all audio and video tapes of Indian films. While India faces a dire need to pay more attention to archiving its cinema history, this does seem an ambitious project. But here’s hoping it sees light of day.

Meanwhile, at a less official level, I recorded a ten-minute extract of the restored Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra, ostensibly India’s first film. With cinema entering its 100th year, I would assume this film has long entered the free-copyright zone and will not land me into trouble. The aim of the arduous exercise of putting this clip on YouTube was to contribute yet another unofficial, barely legal bit to the enormous, free and pirate archive of cinema that is floating across media, particularly on the Internet. So here it is:

Read the entire press report here: http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=83059

May 3, 2012   No Comments  

Back to the dungeon

It is, without doubt, the worst of times. BTJunkie, the haven for cinephiles across the world, was not even cold (neither was Megaupload), when news of lib.nu shutting down hit academics across the world. Lib.nu, formerly gigapedia, was the online reservoir of knowledge, free knowledge to be precise, housing hundreds of thousands of PDFs of books, available to download, no questions asked. As most of us woke up to an ominously bare page that merely had the words “rip lnu”, a sense of reassurance died.

The crackdown on the grey legal area of intellectual property rights has forced us to rethink the kind access that globalization promised us. Books published by foreign publications that were not easily available even at libraries and films that the increasingly strict and not to mention ridiculously prudish Censor Board refuses to release, were accessible to those of us who wanted to watch something beyond the lazy Las-Vegasness of Kareena Kapoor’s latest outing.

Let’s face it, production houses don’t need an audience any more to break even or even to be successful. The economics of production have changed thanks to intermediary players like television rights, music rights, overseas distribution etc. A full-house is just an incidental feel-good factor, an ego massage really. And as far as books are concerned, especially academic books, students or individuals have never really bought personal copies. No profit comes from individuals, and libraries will buy books irrespective. What then is the crackdown going to achieve?

As we pledge our support to the unidentified owners of lib.nu and to the hopeful aggression of piratebay, may be it is time to rethink what freedom means any more and who it is meant for.

And as I end yet another “The end of…” piece, here’s one by Lawrence Liang who seems to hold more hope than I dare to. Click here to read.

February 19, 2012   2 Comments  

The state of African and Chinese cinema

Two reports in Shanghai Daily and Business Daily Africa highlight the plight of low budget filmmaking in China and the local film industry in Africa respectively.

“Big hits overseas, bomb at home” (China Daily) taking the example of In Love We Trust argues that [Read more →]

April 12, 2008   6 Comments  

Ritwik Ghatak’s thesis

Ritwik Ghatak: Not getting the attention that Ray's works have got

Ritwik Ghatak

Subaltern Cinema is proud to present an excerpt from the thesis submitted by noted Indian filmmaker Ritwik Kumar Ghatak to the Communist Party of India in 1954. It remained undiscovered till 1993. The thesis remained buried for many years, and was only discovered in old files in the Communist Party Office. Going through the thesis, it becomes vivid that the same situation persists even today. As a result, such a strong pen is relevant till this date. [Read more →]

November 20, 2007   5 Comments  

Ghatak literally reduced to the subaltern

The lament of Partha Chatterjee, the doyen of the original Subaltern Studies project, over the neglect of Ritwik Ghatak’s films at the Ritwik Ghatak Memorial Trust in the congested Chetla market in Kolkata points to the subaltern nature of Ghatak in Indian film history and indeed consciousness: [Read more →]

October 12, 2007   2 Comments  

Growing harassment of documentary filmmakers in India

Message from Gaurav Jani, Praveen Kumar, Rakesh Sharma

Film-makers Rakesh Sharma, Gaurav Jani and Praveen Kumar yesterday (on Sept 14) registered their protest with the President of India during the National Film Awards ceremony organised by the Ministry for Information & Broadcasting. Each of them handed over a protest petition to the President as they went up to collect their awards. The film-makers were protesting against the growing harassment of documentary film-makers by the police and officials from the CBFC (Central Board for Film Certification). The full text of the protest petition is enclosed below. [Read more →]

September 15, 2007   No Comments  

The digital revolution, hype and indies

This Hindu Business Line report states Fun Republic, the Essel Group exhibition and retail property company has plans to launch a 1000 screens in the next five years. If you ignore the cheerleading and the hype that typifies Indian media coverage today (“The day is not far when sitting on a comfortable couch in your drawing room, you will see Keanu Reaves somersault through the air in The Matrix the same moment audiences in the US view it for the first time on their big screens.”) some interesting points can be dug out. Cinemax, the report claims: [Read more →]

September 5, 2007   5 Comments  

Countering CBFC chief’s claims

Sharmila Tagore, the head of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has argued that Indian films belittle women (read here). Commenting on the refusal to certify Closer for its “wordy sex talk”. Her reasons?

Indian audiences — especially those outside the big metropolises, who are typically more conservative, less educated and, she says, less “media-literate”. [Read more →]

July 17, 2007   No Comments  

Judgement of the Supreme Court in the National Film Awards case

Here is the full text of the judgement on the litigation against the government by Gaurav Ashwin Jani, Anand Patwardhan and Simantini Dhuru over the selection of films for National Film Awards. [Read more →]

April 15, 2007   No Comments