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Posts Tagged ‘Creativity’

Gone are the days when Bollywood used to specialize in churning out only male-centric movies. There were times when our heroes used to be super humans with powers that even God would have hesitated to manifest. Our heroines were inevitably ‘cute’, irrational and dumb. Our families were massive piles of relatives dressed in garish clothes and living in ugly bungalows. Our idea of wooing a girl was dangerously close to molestation. Our assumptions regarding the IQ of our audiences were different. The movies catered mostly to the intelligence of an imagined front-bencher, and were inane, vulgar and obscene.

Cut to the present. The heroes are no longer diffident about shedding their macho image and reveal their softer side on the screen. The heroines have now become far more decisive and assertive. They resist amorous advances. They call the shots. They continue to be as beautiful as ever, but have become far bolder.

Women have found their own voice in the movies, perhaps mirroring the kind of social changes in the offing. More and more female protagonists now sweep us off our feet not only by their chutzpah but also by their brains and brawn. The males are still around, but they often got relegated to the background. If they happen to be in the foreground, they happen to be in a supportive role. Or, they get teased, mocked at and hounded till the time they mend their corrupt and lecherous ways.

Some movies have even gone ahead and made us wonder if the members of the tribe of the so-called sterner sex are even necessary in the scheme of things. However, for the evolution of our species, a balanced approach is called for. A realization is to dawn that women are not objects of lust, violence and humiliation. They deserve all the respect and adoration that is rightfully due to them.

Rays of hope

Here are some Bollywood offerings in the recent past which have had women-centric scripts and have also done well commercially. Most of these have depicted strong females, real or imaginary, who have carried the narrative on their strong shoulders and turned the tables on the so-called sterner sex.

Jalpari

(The Mermaid, 2012, Nilab Madhab Panda)

jalpari

A delightful movie which makes an effective comment on the issue of female foeticide.

Kahaani

(The Story, 2012, Sujoy Ghosh)

kahaani

A courageous widow who tries to unravel the mystery behind the unfortunate death of her husband in a poison gas attack on the Kolkatta metro.

Gulaab Gang

(The Pink Brigade, 2014, Soumik Sen)

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Here is a gang of women activists and vigilantes who take up issues like domestic violence, the dowry system, rape, civic service deficiencies, and female education.

Queen

(2014, Vikas Bahl)

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When her fiancé calls off their wedding, the heroine decides to register a protest by proceeding on a mono-honeymoon trip, savouring life on her own.

Lakshmi

(2014, Nagesh Kukunoor)

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A girl is kidnapped and sold into prostitution. Assisted by a lawyer, she faces violent threats, coercion and bribes, stands up in court and in a landmark case in India, succeeds in putting the traffickers behind bars.

Mary Kom

(2014, Omung Kumar)

marykom

A biographical sports film which depicted the famous Indian boxer’s ascendance to fame. The heroine pursues her passion even while she discharges her family responsibilities with the support of her husband.

Mardaani

(The Masculine One, 2014, Pradeep Sarkar)

mardaani

A policewoman takes personal interest in the case of a kidnapped teenage girl and ends up busting a gang specializing in human trafficking in India.

Parched

(2015, Leena Yadav)

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The movie captured various evils of the society – deep-seated attitudes of patriarchy, child marriage, dowry, marital rapes and physical and mental abuse of women.

Jai Gangaajal

(Hail the water of the Ganges, 2016, Prakash Jha)

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A newly appointed police officer stands up to her seniors and attempts to end the reign of corruption, terror and anarchy in the area under her charge.

Pink

(2016, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury)

pink

Built around an incident of molestation and attempted rape, the movie highlighted the regressive attitudes towards women who dress ‘inappropriately’ and attend parties, thereby being considered fair game. A “NO” may come from any woman – a girlfriend a sex-worker, or even one’s wife – and needs to be respected as such.

Neerja

(2016, Ram Madhvani)

neerja

A courageous flight head purser stands up against the vicious hijackers of a plane. She helps to save 359 of the 379 passengers and crew on board but gets killed in the process. Based on a true incident, wherein the woman received Ashok Chakra posthumously, the highest civilian honour in India.

Nil Battey Sannata

(Good for nothing, 2016, Ashwini Iyer Tiwari)

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An uneducated household maid and single mother of a young girl sets out to ensure that her daughter dreams big and changes her lot in life.

Ki and Ka

(She and He, 2016, R Balki)

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A delectable tale of role reversal of genders in a marriage, where the wife becomes the bread-winner and the husband takes care of the household.

Dangal

(The Wrestling Competition, 2016, Nitesh Tiwari)

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A real-life father braves opposition from the society to train his daughters to become star wrestlers, who go on to win international recognition. 

Blast from the past

This is not to say that Bollywood has not come up with women-centric movies in the past. Here are some which readily spring to one’s mind.

Hunterwali (1935, Homi Wadia)

nadia-hunterwali

Mother India (1957, Mehboob Khan)

Movie Mother_India

Bandini (1963, Bimal Roy)

Dark Bandini

Khamoshi (1969, Asit Sen)

khamoshi

Insaaf Ka Tarazu (1976, B R Chopra)

insaaf_ka_tarazu

Bhumika (1977, Shyam Benegal)

bhumika

Arth (1982, Mahesh Bhatt)

arth

Mirch Masala (1987, Ketan Mehta)

mirch_masala

Aastha (1997, Basu Bhattacharya)

aastha_-_in_the_prison_of_spring

Godmother (1999, Vinay Shukla)

godmother

Astitva (2000, Mahesh Manjrekar)

astitva

Lajja (2001, Rajkumar Santoshi)

lajja

Then and now

The difference is that women in earlier movies were mostly the sacrificing, the weepy and the self-pitying kind. They would take matters in their own hands but only when driven against a wall. Now, they come into their own out of sheer free will, revealing the inner strength they possess.

However, the fight against a deeply entrenched patriarchical mindset is far from being over. What we see today are mere green shoots, that too on the silver screen, which are confined to the metrosexual male. Movies directed at upwardly mobile urban youth alone mirror the new set of values. Centuries of social hierarchy has conditioned male minds to accept only certain conservative patterns of behaviour and dress for women. A person who deviates, dresses differently and goes partying is seen as fair game.

Creativity, Commerciality and Social Challenges

Creativity innovates. Commerciality exploits. For good cinema to flourish, a culturally vibrant social environment is necessary. If fine arts are better understood and appreciated, if there is a solid rooting in humanities and social sciences, imaginative and responsible movie makers would surely come up with meaningful entertainment which nurtures the soul while giving pleasure.

The intrinsic purpose of movies is commercial. However, if the message being conveyed also helps the society to correct itself, there is a real value-add which needs to be lauded. Producers and directors who come up with such creative offerings deserve all the admiration and adulation they richly deserve.

Needed: Different shades of chivalry

Indian males really need to reboot themselves for the 21st century. They could learn a lot about the art of chivalry from such heroes as Ashok (Anupama, 1966, Hrishikesh Mukherjee) and Arun (Chhoti Si Baat, 1975, Basu Chatterjee). This change can only start at the dining table and in the kitchen, within the confines of a home.

Parents of those who indulged in ‘mass molestation’ in a premier metro of India recently need to seriously introspect and start grooming their wards to practice different shades of chivalry in the days to come.

Bertie Wooster would surely approve. So would the likes of Honoria Glossop and Florence Craye.

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/women-through-the-bollywood-lens-part-1

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/women-through-the-bollywood-lens-part-2-of-2

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/different-shades-of-women-in-plumsville)

 

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Art SavitriThere is a deep link between art and our consciousness. Here is a post which explores this vital link and even celebrates it!

Creative by Nature

“Developing mastery in an art influences how we think about challenges and see the world. Every one of us has the potential to be an artist, to harness and express our innate wisdom and creativity.”

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You’ve probably noticed how the most beautiful paintings, music and poetry evoke a sense of connection, peace and gratitude. Great works of art celebrate and express the beauty of Nature, that “the universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper,” as Eden Phillpotts put it.

With the best art we are reminded that we live in a Creative Universe that is itself a work of art, filled with masterpieces of rivers, stars, mountains, children, clouds and flowers. The greatest artists, poets and musicians down through time (like Picasso, Walt Whitman, Mozart and Van Gogh) have tried to communicate this message to us. That art surrounds us everywhere.

They encouraged us to look carefully, and to develop our own creative potential. When…

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A friend suggested visiting the National Gallery in Oslo. Having had the opportunity of admiring the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Pablo Picasso and others in the last few years, I was naturally curious as to what Norwegian artists had come up with in the past. The visit turned out to be a truly instructive one. I realized the depth and range of work done by painters as well as sculptors and marvelled at the passion and artistic fervour of the artists concerned.IMG_1716

Founded in 1837, the National Gallery houses Norway’s largest public collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures. In its permanent and temporary exhibitions, the museum presents older art, with principal emphasis on art from Norway.IMG_1652

Highlights from the collection are shown in the permanent exhibition “The Dance of Life – The Collection from Antiquity to 1945”.IMG_1664

The exhibition presents a chronological overview of more than 300 Norwegian and international masterpieces from the Renaissance, the Baroque period, Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, Symbolism, Cubism and modern abstract art. IMG_1658

Special attention is devoted to paintings by J.C. Dahl and Romanticism, Christian Krohg and Realism, Edvard Munch’s renowned works, as well as Norwegian evocative painting from the turn of the last century.The_Scream

Central attractions include Edvard Munch’s The Scream and Madonna and paintings by Cézanne and Monet.IMG_1672

Paintings by Picasso and several other artists are also on display.IMG_1683

In the exhibition on abstract art, one could see some striking works. A particular one I found of great interest was entitled ‘The Universal Flag.’IMG_1638

With more than 4,000 paintings, 1,000 sculptures and nearly 50,000 works on paper, the National Gallery’s art collection is the most comprehensive and wide ranging in Norway, and one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe.IMG_1692

Michelangelo is said to have taken four years to adorn the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Leonardo da Vinci is said to have taken three years to finish ‘The Last Supper.’ Dahl is said to have taken six years to paint ‘Stalheim’; remarkably, he did it while he was nowhere near a fjord in Norway!Dahl-Stalheim

All these eminent artists worked in an age devoid of photography, computers, internet, trains, aeroplanes and mobile phones. They suffered innumerable hardships while creating their works. Since they simply loved what they were doing at the time, they would have surely derived immense joy and satisfaction while pursuing their creative goals.IMG_1678

Leads one to wonder how creativity originates. We may know the external circumstances and the trials and tribulations they faced. We may marvel at the outstanding works of art they have produced. We may surmise as to the motivation and the feeling behind each work. But would we ever know the precise moment when the germ of an idea really hit them? How long did it simmer within them before taking a tangible shape? Unless they have left behind an autobiographical account, or someone else has covered their life and times in some detail, we might never be able to identify the real point of origin of their creative outburst.IMG_1689

Surely, all great artists have a streak of divinity in them. Besides, they have passion for their form of art. Patience and perseverance would be only two of their several sterling qualities. They would also have been lucky to get mentors who spotted and nurtured their talents. Some blossomed in adversity, enabled perhaps only by their innermost conviction.IMG_1702

We may not know the exact point of conception. We may be unaware of the technical details or the process of eventual delivery. But we shall be forever grateful that they have left behind a rich tapestry of the dance of life, capturing its precious moments for posterity. It is a legacy which continues to attract, entice and inspire artists and laymen alike all over the world.

Note: ‘Scream’ and ‘Stalheim’ reproductions are courtesy Wikipedia. Others are a result of my photographic skills, which are severely limited. Please bear with me for deficiencies – if you notice any – in these.  

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happiness

We are like grains of sand

On a beach sunlit by brilliant rays of hope;

Repeatedly we get swept back by strong relentless waves

Of our own wishes and desires,

Leaving us in torment at times, unable to cope.

 

They keep coming one after the other

Keeping us tied to our senses;

Distracting us from the true purpose of life,

Always wanting more and more,

Vulnerable, never able to mend our fences.

 

Fulfilment of one does not always mean

Growing out of it;

Instead, the intensity could get multiplied,

Leaving us with a poor self-perception

And an inner state lacking happiness, dark and poorly lit.

 

Often we wonder if there is a way

To become like a hard rock;

Having an inner resilience

Bouncing back the waves which keep splashing against us,

Receiving cravings and desires which we can simply mock.

 

Let them break on our external crust

And return to their meaningless vastness;

Leaving us in the soft glow of peace,

Attaining harmony between our external and internal selves,

Enjoying pure bliss and happiness.

 

If this were indeed to happen,

Would we still be vibrant and alive?

Where would be the need to constantly challenge our own selves

With newer and higher goals;

Forever expanding, mind buzzing with new ideas like a bee-hive?

 

The trick possibly is in sifting the good ones from the bad ones,

Using our intellect to discriminate and judge;

Working only upon the benign ones,

With all our resources and natural gifts,

Bringing those to fruition with a skilful nudge.

 

Enjoying magnificent sunsets and living glorious moonlit nights,

Cheeks feeling the soft touch of a gentle breeze,

Admiring the grace and beauty of clouds passing by,

Being one with the seagulls flapping overhead

Bowing our head to the eternal power which created the nature’s lullaby.

 

We shall then be able to explore new frontiers of creativity,

A clear gaze helping us to navigate the rapids of life, enabling a win;

Linking enjoyment to the journey and not to a destination,

Going with the flow, simply living in the present,

Living life to the hilt, finding the fountain-head of true happiness within.

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The latest family movie soon to hit a restricted number of screens is “Shankar-the bold”. It captures the life and times of the youngest one in our family, right from his birth till the time he celebrates his second birthday. Shankar The Bold  cd cover

Preparing for the Movie

As always, the process remains the same. Going through family pictures and videos. Selecting the ones which are worth preserving. Conceptualizing the overall script. Deciding on various sections. Putting them in a tentative sequence. Screening the photos once again. Rearranging some of these into newer sections. Putting these through an Adobe Photoshop wringer.

Selecting the music to be used in the background. Consulting friends and family members for the choice of music. Seeking the help of others to download relevant songs. For some favourite songs, creating a special sequence of the visuals, in sync with the lyrics. Rearranging the script, if necessary.

Getting Connected

For the period to be covered, ensuring that all important events and people are getting covered. Retrieving poems, notes and letters specifically composed for some of these events. Planning to use these at appropriate places in the narrative. Using instrumental music as a backdrop so it does not distract from the verbal content on the screen.

The younger generation needs to understand the background of the family. It also needs to know who all comprise the extended family. Members are spread over all the continents. To collect their photos, getting their names and relationships right and inserting them in the narrative is no mean task.

Elders in the family are immensely useful in providing the finer details of the lives and times of our ancestors. A whiff of nostalgia, laced with family history, ensures that the movie does not remain an exercise in narcissism. Instead, it ends up being a valuable addition to the family archives.

Composing the Movie

There are several movie-making softwares available. The one that we have liked is Womble Multimedia. Arranging the photos section-wise and inserting relevant audio tracks is a skill which one learns over a period of time.

Once the movie has been composed, the question of its disc reproduction comes up. Each set has to be individually checked for its correctness. Defects in sound track or composition have to be ironed out. Eventually, a Master Disc takes shape. This is again played out on a dvd player, just to check that the aspect ratio and other details are well taken care of.

Scope for Innovation

Making each family movie unique is one of the serious challenges. For the latest offering, we came up with the idea of linking family events to important events. So, if the boy was born at a time when an important merger and acquisition had taken place in the business world, the event found a mention in the narrative.

Since ours is a family of movie buffs, we decided to link important family events to movies released around that time. Let us say a marriage in the family took place in a year in which a blockbuster had hit the silver screen. So, a short clip from the movie found a place in the narrative.

A Labor of Love

An exhausting but uplifting process. The unalloyed joy of creativity. The satisfaction of having made something which entertains, educates and celebrates a milestone for the family. Something which the younger ones would cherish when they grow up. A fragment of the subtle connection between the past and the future.

(If you like this post, there is a good chance you may like an earlier one as well: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/some-baby-steps-in-movie-making)

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