From poetry and prose, we move to films. On Saturday we shared film recommendations with each other. Dr. A recommended Hindi film Saudagar(Trader) (1973) directed by Sudhendu Roy, and K. Balachander’s Telugu film Aakali Rajyam (Kingdom of Hunger) (1980). He chose these films for their encapsulation of a historical moment – each film is of its time and could not have been made at any other moment in Indian history. Ma’am B chose two Iranian films – Children of Heaven (1997) directed by Majid Majidi, a straightforward narrative of how children cope with the absence of resources in the visibly abundant urban space, told through the unconditional affection between two young siblings; and Gholam Reza Ramezani’s Charkh (The Cart) (2000), in which a mischievous young boy looks at his familiar city from a new perspective, a hole in his father’s fruit cart where he is confined for the day as punishment for his latest mischief. As it turns out he has his wits about him and in a moment of sudden crisis knows to do the right thing. Both films bring out a child’s view of the city, an often neglected perspective in our imagination of urban existence. Kabeer chose Hayao Mizayaki’s Japanese animated film My Neighbour Totoro (1988), and emphasized the care, precision and evocative power of the art style and the pleasant, non-conflict oriented narrative of the film.
Shriya chose Aparna Sen’s Bengali film Goynar Baksho (The Jewellery Box) (2013). The movie is a three generational tale revolving around a jewellery box and three women. The movie depicts how ownership of the jewellery box holds different meanings for all three women. For elderly the pishima the box is her only piece of asset, which kept her position safe in the family. Somlata receives the jewellery box from Pishima’s ghost to help her set up her business and challenge the feudalistic patriarchy within the household. For the third generation the box represents a sense of freedom to move towards a desired future and to do good for society at large. Ravi chose Gulzar’s classic 1982 Hindi comedy Angoor (Grape), based on Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors for its timeless humour which appeals to all generations. Bharat picked Mani Kaul’s 1989 Hindi documentary Siddheshwari, a biographical film in a very loose sense that depicts scenes from the life of thumri singer Siddheswari Devi. He chose it for the imaginative ways in which it depicts the built form of Banaras with its ghats and almost Escher-like array of staircases and platforms, for its experiments with biographical narrative using non-linear vignettes, and the way in which it uses music to tell the story – with many scenes have little to no dialogue, giving the music plenty of space to enter the narrative. Meenakshi chose the Polish film Ida (2013) directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, for the power and simplicity of its narrative, and its skilled use of black and white to convey and almost timeless quality to the story.
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