Thursday, November 24, 2005

Shundi Kaapche!

Shundi-te aloron! Shundi-r notun-tomo songjojon. INSPECTOR HOJO Ekhane tuke dilaam tar first posting

Hello hello 1, 2, 3, 4 mike testing. Bondhugon gola khobor aache. Dukhkher obossho. Amader Mac babur ghor bipod. Actually tri-pod, maney teen dick theke. Jhamela teen mohila. Mac er obostha ekhon onekta Indian peninsular moto. Je kono shomudro theke jokhon tokhon tsunami aaste pare.
Pothome (resist kora gelo na) boli Bay of Bengal er kotha. Bipasha Khanki Bardhan. Ei o bhodro mohila holo Mac jei Glare Advertising er hoye khep er kaaj kore, taar maalkin. Ekta nongra, uncouth, unsophisticated, harami, Mac er thekeo beshi paka ekta maagi. Kaaj kommo thik aache, problem (ebar kintu bhai daate daat chepe resist korechi) holo Mac er salary er date parar kichu dustu meyeder period er moto protyek maashe du- char din kore pichiye jachche. Tao abar instalment e cheque haate jao paay shetao motamoti gota shaare teen baar bounce korte korte or account e joma pore. Majhe aache prochur raag, obhiman, gosha aar Mac er kichu aalto humki. Tobe bank er shonge kotha bole goto noy maash dhore Mac oi mohilar opor cheque bounce er ekta mamla korbe bhabche.
Ebar ashi Indian Ocean er kothay. She abar maash gele mainey kora.Mac er maashi. Or kaaj er Bai. She Mac babu ke pochondo (please etai last baar) chaap er modhdhye rekheche. Jokhon tokhon or kache boro boro onker taka demand korche. Taar cheler piles hoyeche - paachsho, gudi parwa te she deshe jaabe - hajaar, abar she notun chawl e flat book koreche taar jonno chai paach hajaar taka. Macbhool is pareshan. Or ek sardar bondhu aashe, taar thekeo she hajaar taka geriyeche. Ei bai der crisis er bajaar e Mac ekhon ekebare nilkontho. Shesh shona geche ei Bai Mac er shonge tar mejo meyer biye dite kinchit utshaho dekhanoy bechara ekhon Nalasopara ba Virar er dike shift korar kotha bhabche.
Ebaar baachlo Arobbo Mohashagor. No surprises here. The very ovious Goaenchi kudi from the capial - Nava Whatever Shetty. Uro khobor aache Macport e abar onek din pore ei urojahaj land korbe korbe korche. Maajhe monomalinno howate onek din airport er shutter down chhilo. Tai ekhon Goregaon er hangar ghosha majar kaaj cholche jor kodome tar bai er absence ke ograjjo kore. Fridge theke onek pocha jinish er modhdhye theke ek bati arai maash purono alu fulkopir torkari o beriyeche. Shetar rong amader Kalubaba keo maat kore diyeche.
Uro jahaj er driver Mac nije. Tai goto bochor er helmet futo episode er por (jar fole Mac baba hote chole chhilo) ebar she landing gear niye bishesh chintito. Maal ta thik thak safely land korbe tow? Kodin aage Bombay airport e Sahara er ekta flight land korte giye jemon runway foshke kaada te aatke giye chhilo, temon kichu hole taader sahara debe ke? Laganor por je pill ta khete hoy shetar naam tow Miss Delhi eto din por kichutei mone korte paarche na. Tai Mac nije jaake taake phone kore goto bar er moto aakare ingite pill tar naam jiggesh korar chesta kore. Finally ami, yours truly, Inspector Hojo amar reliable khabri laagiye oke (with opshan) pills er naamgulo (bokachodara, bhebe chhile ami 'naamguli' likhbo?) jogar kore di along with procedure to have it. Kintu villain hoye dariyeche Mac er 28 KB memory. She kichutei pill ta kokhon khete hobe mone raakhte parche na. Tai confused hoye ek din por por Kaun Banega Karorpatir 'phone a friend' er moto amake chaar te option diye 30 second er modhdhye uttor chaiche. PILL ta ki -
(a) laganor 72 ghonta aage khabe?
(b) laganor 72 ghonta pore khabe?
(c) laganor aage 72 ghontar modhdhye khabe?
(d) laganor pore 72 ghontar modhdhye khabe?

Goto raate obossho Mac amake ekta notun proshno koreche - "pill ta Nava khabe na ami khabo???"

Friday, November 18, 2005

Changing the World...One Frame at a Time

Once in a while you meet someone or hear about something that somehow makes you feel that at times you can forget the mundane and rise up to something greater.

It happened to me last Wednesday. I met Chiranjeeb and Sunetro. With the regulation Santiniketan jhola, they did look like your regulation coffee-house character. But what they do and preach are anything but regulation.

Chiranjeeb and Sunetro are cine-evangelists, if there is such a term. They run Drishya, a student film study circle set up by a few post-graduates from Calcutta and Jadhavpur University.

Using a hired projector and a clutch of classic VCDs and DVDs, Drishya travels to villages to hold screenings. Yes, rural audiences in West Bengal are congregating in villages to watch world cinema classics unspool before their eyes. Right from Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin, Charles Chaplin’s Great Dictator to Vitorrio De Sica’s Bicycle Thief.

And with each screening, this band of young men and women are shrinking the distance between film-rich Calcutta and the cinema-starved villages of North 24 Parganas, Nadia and Birbhum in interior Bengal. And what's more, they are taking their cine-gospel to the rest of India. Karnataka, Uttaranchal, Gujarat and even cynical, snobbish, cinephiles in Bombay are queueing up for Drishya screenings.

Chiranjeeb says, "Research conducted by our friends showed how electronic media was challenging folk forms. Villagers were abandoning rich folk forms and travelling 12-14 km to see the latest Hindi movies, or hiring VCDs."" To combat crass commercial cinema and offer them more aesthetic choices, Drishya brought along films that were different from Bollywood’s balle-balle wedding galas and divorced-from-reality designer dreams. The group offered organic cinema made by Ray, Ghatak and Godard, whose evocative lyricisms didn’t need sexily picturised songs, heroines in chiffon saris or crude ‘item songs’.

The group began with Ray’s Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, knowing that people would relate to the spoken Bengali. A Bengali cult classic, Goopy, is a fairy tale where the lead pair have the power to conjure food out of thin air. During one evocative scene where Goopy and Bagha shout out for rasogullas, gulab jamuns and puris, "a collective sigh" went through the crowd, recalls Sunetro. "No one missed the theme of starvation, and the fact that soldiers were willing to put down weapons and eat rather than wage wars," adds Chiranjeeb.

Next up was Italian neo-realism, which hit our national theatres in 1953 with Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Zameen that told a heart-rending story of debt and then loss of two acres of land through Shambhu, a rickshaw puller, played by Balraj Sahni. Made six years earlier, De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves was thematically similar and Drishya believed audiences would relate to it since rural societies are not yet automobilised. And they did. But not quite how Drishya imagined. While the language (Italian) was no barrier while connecting to the bicycle-theft, a father-son relationship and post-war desperation, most of the audience left after the screening, leaving the Drishya’s team despondent. But ten minutes, they returned, refreshed after tea to ask, "when is the next show?" "That was our first taste of visual victory," says Chiranjeeb.

'Visual victory'. Now that's an expression that we (the handfull in this thingy called the comunication business) toil tooth and nail for every day. Sunetro and Chiranjeeb and the brave men and women at Drishya have proven (albeit with a little help from Ray, Kurosawa, De Sica and a few others!) that visuals, universal emotions have nothing to qworry from the barriers of language!

As a true believer in the power of cinema, I sincerely subscribe to the notion that people like Sunetro and Chiranjeeb are revolutionaries. Revolutionaries aspire to change 'their' world. The word 'their' is important as it means a certain immediate hinterland, as opposed to an utopian Neverland. And their instrument of change is good cinema. More power to them.

Drishya is a non-profit organisation is looking for all the help they need, monetary and otherwise. To get in touch with them, email

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Magic of Distance

As I see, I think it's a good thing not to talk to our friends, near and far, once in a while. Gives us something to look forward to and a lot of things to catch up on. It's been months since to yakked about something inconsequential and the anticipation of the forthcoming just gives me the tingles.

Which brings us to a rather compelling thought. Do we sometimes get too close to each other? In the last couple of weeks I have realized that we all need our space. And we deserve it individually and collectively.

We sometimes impose our collective will on individuals. I do that too. I did that. In an extrapolated world, we call it 'concensus terrorism', but that's another posting. Let us live our own lives and as well as our collective existences together.

I look forward to my friends.

ps: is it true that we are going to matheran?