Thursday, January 05, 2006

Life is really beautiful

It was a 2005 summer noon in Chennai. Shyam, with all his enthusiasms asked me to see the film he bought. It was a very user friendly movie too, with a fast paced screenplay and commercial stuffs. Still within 30 minutes from the movie started, I dozed off. (I don’t know whether I snored too that day).

That was the interest and enthusiasm I had in films that time. Moreover the previous night I travelled in the bus from Bangalore, which accounted for the disturbed sleep. And the whole world (yeah, it’s a “little” exaggeration. Anyways I am known for it!) knows Shyam’s mom is a good cook. As a person, who is deprived of good food in Bangalore I hogged on my terms and it too accounted for my “doze”. Still it is not an excuse for not getting anything out of the film. When I woke up in the evening Shyam was ready to hurl anything at me for killing his enthusiasm so badly.

But when I was leaving from Chennai, Shyam still having faith in my aesthetical senses gave me the DVD of another film (not the one that I dozed off!) and insisted me to watch. I had no big interest in that. Had somebody given me a book to read, I would have definitely flipped some pages at least. The reason for my numbness towards films should be my egoistic approach towards the medium. I never could imagine a film would give me a high like a good novella! Shyam was really infuriated this time. Not withstanding his infuriation, I tried to check what a big fuss about that movie.

But the film… it was marvellous. I was startled. I was wondering how could a person think and direct such a movie in such a topic. It was “Life is Beautiful”. Roberto Benigni directed and did the lead role. The movie was based on the concentration camp! The lead character is a Jew, who was worked up to death in the concentration camp. In spite of all his troubles, how he saves his son is the story. Believe me, there was not a single drop of blood. The film made me laugh right from the start till the climax. But when it finished, it left a lump in my throat. Then I tried another film too, “Out of Africa”. It too was good.

These two films made me to go-and-search for “good” films. Then I bought movies in a row. New wife; new passion! I bought all the known films, mainly Oscar winners. (That includes the famous doze-off film too). But I kept my eyes open for some non English films too! (Benigni effect?!). So I had ‘Bicycle thieves’ and ‘Motorcycle stories’ in my collection.

So I had something to brag to others about my film interests when I came to Ireland. One such person was a friend of mine, Sayan from Kolkatta. He mentioned some films which I never heard of. But of course, I had the knowledge “Bicycle thieves”, “Life is beautiful” and the oft quoted “Amadeus”. It helped me to get a hang of Sayan’s comments about films and saved me from posing like a complete imbecile!

In Ireland we normally do shopping (that means buying clothes, nothing else!) in a big shopping complex. Once I happened to go there with Sayan. When I was about to enter the “Textile mall” one again in my life time, Sayan took a different route and entered a small DVD shop, that can go completely unnoticed.

I too followed him. I think that was one of the very few good things I did in my life. The shop had one hell of a good collection of foreign films. Taking the cue from Sayan, I bought some DVDs there. One of them was Truffat’s “Jules Et Jim”. French film of course!

The directors, who do gimmicks these days with “freezing” shots these days, should watch this film. What a powerful characterization! What a great photography! That too way back in 1940s! My interest in films increased many folds. I borrowed a book written by Satyajit Ray “Our films; their films” from Sayan.

It opened a new door to the field of films. (Incidentally Sayan gifted me the book, with a note – “welcome to a new world”!). Orson Welles, Kapra, Antonioni, Renoir, and John Ford became known names to me. From the pages, they came alive first in the form of Ray’s words, later in the form of DVD. Anybody who brags about the sheer commercial impacts of films on the society should be made to watch “Citizen Kane” (1945) by Welles and Eisentein’s “Battleship of Potemkin” (1926).

I was amazed by the lighting technique used in the dark room scene of “Citizen Kane” which was achieved in 1945. Believe me, Orson Welles was only 25 years old when he directed it and that was his first film. It will be very hard, real hard to believe the riot scene of “B.O.P” was shot completely outdoors in 1926. See the film to understand it better!

Anyways enough is written about the state of Indian films and the foreign films, especially by stalwarts like Ray. One Sethupathi, a film enthusiast for the past one year can hardly contribute anything constructive to the topic!

Now I will be back to India again. With lot of DVDs. Some films are slow as hell. At some places even the director would have slept off. (Godard is known for his static photography!). I am sure I will watch one of these movies, with Shyam in his house, with his mom’s lovely food and deprived sleep. But I am sure, this time I will not sleep off :-)

Are you still interested to know the film I dozed off?
“Catch me if you can”. Yes. I caught the nap :-)


just waiting for you to come down to Chennai to watch those movies. Have heard enuff abt Citizen Kane always wanted to watch it.
I've heard many stories about ur ability to sleep in theatres from amit & tanya. Hope at least from now on, u'll go to theatres for watching movies ;-)
Don't worry Shyam. We will watch "Citizen Kane" in your home :-)
Karthi, still I can't give 100% guarantee for not sleeping in the theatres :-)
Boss...its motorcycle diaries not stories...but its written good!!
Yes Dude. I noticed that. But I was too lazy to change that. BTW, I take this opportunity to thank Mr.Coolkarni who gifted his "Motorcycle diaries" DVD to me! Your snap is cool dude... but you look much better in person :-)
write something da!! long since..we read anything from you..
I love your website. It has a lot of great pictures and is very informative.
I say briefly: Best! Useful information. Good job guys.
Enjoyed a lot! »
very well written.. never knew u write so well da... please give me some DVDs.. also the Ray's book?..

btw.. Arunachalam.. my blogger name!!!!!!!!!
U have a very captive style of writing...its sad that... I got 2 read ur blogs only now....
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