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SATYAJIT RAY, born on May 2, 1921, was a wellknown film director of India. He earned international recognition for his talent in film-making and direction. Best known for his ‘Pather Panchali, ‘Aparajto’, ‘Charulata’ and ‘Shatranj Ke Khilari’, he won awards at international film festivals in Venice, Cannes and Berlin. Ray used to compose music for his own films. He was also a story writer, illustrator and book designer. Oxford University conferred on him an honorary doctorate degree, an honour which very few people have received. In the present essay, taken from his book Our Films, Their Films, he examines the nature of our films and points out their defects. He is extremely critical of the quality of our film-making, direction as well as content.

One of the most significant phenomena of our time has been the development of the cinema from a-turn-of the-century mechanical toy into the century’s most potent and versatile art form.

Today, the cinema commands the respect accorded to any other form of creative expression. It combines in various measures the functions of poetry, music, painting, drama, architecture and a host of other arts, major and minor. It also combines the cold logic of science.

India took up film production surprisingly early. The first short film was produced in 1907 and the first feature in 1913. By the twenties it had reached the status of big business.

It is easy to tell the world that film production in India is quantitatively second only to Hollywood; for that is a statistical fact. But can the same be said of its quality? Why are our films not shown abroad? Is it solely because India offers a potential market for her own products? Or, are we just plain ashamed of our films?

To anyone familiar with the relative standards of the best foreign and Indian films, the answers must come easily. Let us face the truth. There has yet been no Indian film, which could be acclaimed on all counts. Where other countries have achieved, we have only attempted and that too not always with honesty.

No doubt this lack of maturity can be attributed to several factors. The producers will tell you about that mysterious entity ‘the mass’, which goes in for this sort of thing’, the technicians will blame the tools and the director will have much to say about the wonderful things he had in mind but could not achieve because of the conditions’.

In India it would seem that the fundamental concept of a coherent dramatic pattern existing in time was generally misunderstood.

Often by a queer process of reasoning, movement was equated with action and action with melodrama. The analogy with music failed in our case because Indian music is largely improvisational.

Almost every passing phase of the American cinema has had its repercussion on the Indian films. Stories have been written based on Hollywood successes and the cliches preserved with care. Even where the story has been a genuinely Indian one, the background music has revealed an irrepressible penchant for the jazz idiom.

It should be realised that the average American film is a bad model, if only because it depicts a way of life so utterly at variance with our own. Moreover, the high technical polish, which is the hallmark of the standard Hollywood product, would be impossible to achieve under existing Indian conditions. What the Indian cinema needs today is not more gloss, but more imagination, more integrity, and a more intelligent appreciation of the limitations of the medium.

After all we do possess the primary tools of filmmaking. The complaint of the technicians notwithstanding, mechanical devices such as the crane shot and the process shot are useful, but by no means indispensable. What our cinema needs above everything else is a style, an idiom, a sort of iconography of cinema, which would be uniquely and recognisably Indian.

The majority of our films are replete with such ‘visual dissonances’. But the truly Indian film should steer clear of such inconsistencies and look for its material in the more basic aspects of Indian life, where habit and speech, dress and manners, background and foreground, blend into a harmonious whole.

It is only in a drastic simplification of style and content that hope for the Indian cinema resides. At present, it would appear that nearly all the prevailing practices go against such a simplification.

Starting a production without adequate planning, sometimes even without a shooting script, penchant for convolutions of plot and counter plot rather than the strong, simple unidirectional narrative: the practice of sandwiching musical numbers in the most unlyrical situations, the habit of shooting indoors in a country which is all landscape, and at a time when all other countries are turning to the documentary for inspiration – all these stand in the way of the evolution of a distinctive style.

There have been rare glimpses of an enlightened approach in a handful of recent films. IPTA’s ‘Dharti-ke-Lal’ is an instance of a strong simple theme put over with style. honesty and technical competence. Shank

ar’s ‘Kalpana’, an inimitable and highly individual experiment shows a grasp of filmic movement, and a respect for tradition.

The raw material of the cinema is life itself. It is incredible that a country which has inspired so much painting, music and poetry should fail to move the filmmakers. He has only to keep his eyes open, and his ears. Let him do so.

If you have any specific questions or need further assistance, please feel free to ask.

Chapter 1 The Pace for Living
Chapter 2 Me and The Ecology Bit
Chapter 3 Gillu
Chapter 4 What is Wrong with Indian Film
Chapter 5 Acceptance Speech
Chapter 6 Once Upon A Time
Chapter 7 The Unity of Indian Culture
Chapter 8 Little Girl Wiser Than Man
Chapter 1 God Made The Country
Chapter 2 Ode On Solitude
Chapter 3 Polythene Bag
Chapter 4 Thinner Than a Crescent
Chapter 5 The Empty Heart
Chapter 6 Koel (The Black Cuckoo)
Chapter 7 The Sleeping Porter
Chapter 8 Martha
Chapter 1 January Night
Chapter 2 Allergy
Chapter 3 The Bet
Chapter 4 Quality
Chapter 5 Sun and Moon
Chapter 6 Two Horizons
Chapter 7 Love Defiled
Unseen Passage for Comprehension Literary
Unseen Passage for Comprehension Factual
Letter Writing
Essay Writing
Paragraph Writing
Short Writing
Notice Writing
Modal Auxiliaries
Active and Passive Voice
Narration Direct and Indirect Speech
Subject-Verb Concord
Idioms and Phrases

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