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Posts from — August 2007

Camera Phones, Individual Depravity and Institutionalised Depravity

Every age has its detractors in new technologies. Cameras, which are increasingly losing their analog and standalone characteristics, are the new age villains. They are at the heart of scandals involving criminals, stars and common folk. Stories of lesser known stars getting implicated in the video porn scandals of the past are being reenacted this time with the ‘little satans’ which come embedded with cameras, av players, radio, pedometer and what not. [Read more →]

August 31, 2007   3 Comments  

Dude where’s my theory? Satya and Hindi gangster film

(this post is based on a paper on the Indian gangster film presented at the annual MeCCSA conference, 2006, Coventry, UK)

Gangster films often exploit the public imagination of crime often circulated through mass media discourse. For example, in Hollywood studios often claimed that the films were based on reality/immediate events – “stories taken from headlines”. Similarly, Satya and RGV too explicitly reference Bombay and the reality of the [Read more →]

August 29, 2007   No Comments  

Indian cinema (2): Film theory meets Darr

In continuation to the writings on imaginations/theories of Indian cinema (read the introductory article here).

The “modernisation” of tradition
One of the key arguments about Indian cinema lies in the thesis of the “modernisation of tradition”, which challenged the view that technologies had an inherent quality of modernity (modernity here conceptualised as a break from the past). Thus, photography and cinema were deemed to have inherent qualities — of realism — and the ability to transform modes of narratives particularly in terms of staging, address etc. It is instructive to pay attention to this thesis as many discussions about Indian cinema (including here at Passion for Cinema) tend to get polarised along these lines, though they may not articulate them so. [Read more →]

August 26, 2007   No Comments  

The Politics and Sociology of Fan Clubs

Any one interested in the politics of Tamil film fans are quickly attracted to the burgeoning number of fan clubs the leading stars of the present and past have spawned. Thanks to the spirit of rivalry the fans cultivate assidously against each other in the names of their stars, fan clubs have emerged as the alternative spheres for the stars to thrash out their opponents in the words and deeds of their fans. In some cases, these fan clubs have also emerged as the requisite interfaces between the potential vote banks, political parties and the stars-turned-politicians. [Read more →]

August 24, 2007   7 Comments  

The Politics of MGR and Sivaji Fans: The New Contours

As a school student, I was witness to the seemingly endless arguments of MGR and Sivaji fans regarding the virtues of their idols. Every move of MGR fans was sought to be matched by the fans of Sivaji during the time of new releases. The politics of Tamil cinema was clearly divided along the lines determined by the camps of Sivaji and MGR during 1960s and 1970s. During the period, Tamil cinema industry survived solely as a joint venture of Sivaji and MGR. There were only two kinds of films (MGR films and Sivaji films) and two kinds of fans (the rustic/working class/rural fans of MGR and the educated/middle class/urban fans of Sivaji). [Read more →]

August 23, 2007   No Comments  

Indian cinema — the culture/tradition argument

I shall be jotting down a series of musings to raise questions about the different conceptions of Indian cinema floated by living room “experts”, academics, and practitioners. I would like to put forth the various imaginations of Indian cinema. Some of them are grounded persuasively, while others use a logic that looks plausible — at least on the surface — but on digging deeper throws up more questions. The idea here is to not belittle them but to use them to inform about the various ways we inform ourselves and others about what cinema is. In other words, the makings of an essentialist argument about cinema and society.The first one I would like to explore is the culture/tradition argument. [Read more →]

August 19, 2007   3 Comments  

Arrival of modern gadgets has helped villagers produce short films

From The Hindu

Read story here:

ERODE: In a few years from now if one were to write the people’s history of Tamil Nadu today, what he or she would look for as source may not be just documents and newspapers.

The historian to-be would prefer compact disks as the best source, for in villages spread across the State people have started recording events and issues concerning them through short and documentary films. [Read more →]

August 15, 2007   No Comments  

Moser Baer Is Everywhere

Last fortnight, I was in Landmark,Chennai, looking for the dvd prints of Ritwick Ghatak’s films in the section they were around for a couple of months. I could only find moser baer dvds in Tamil in the place of Ghatak’s films and youngsters shuffling through the yellow plastic covers of moser baer eagerly. I had to spend some time locating the Ghatak collection, which got shunted to an obscure place. [Read more →]

August 13, 2007   3 Comments  

The Origins of Ritualistic Film Spectatorship in Tamil Nadu

We have read stories about the fans of Rajinikanth pouring milk, lighting camphor and breaking coconuts for the cutouts of his film Sivaj:The Boss. Those who are in the know of the ritualistic nature of film spectatorship in Tamil Nadu probably were not surprised to read them. The fans of MGR continue to be masters par excellence of ritualistic film spectatorship even after their god died 20 years ago. The re-release of any major MGR film even today witnesses the enactment of the same rituals that defined the launch of MGR films during the 1950s and 1960s. Here is a feed from an avid MGR fan on the goings-on in a theatre in Chennai last week. [Read more →]

August 7, 2007   No Comments