Sunday, October 11, 2009

the limit of the metaphor

Some brief things on the films and feelings of John Abraham.

Amma Ariyan (Report to Mother, 1986) :

"This film is an analysis of the extremist movement in Kerala during years' 70. Many of my friends legacies to that movement killed. They were much intelligent, sensitive and with a great aesthetic sense. Their dead women obsessed to me and that provoked in me desire to make this film. According to me the cinema would have to speak to people and people to speak through the cinema. The cinematographic experience would have to arouse the social conscience of the public. Through the Odessa Movies I want to show my films to people and who will not have the moneies in order to pay will be able to see them gratis."

- from the 1987 Torino Film Festival brochure.

On Agraharathil Kazhuthai (Donkey in an Elite Colony, 1978), from here:

"The neighbourhood is an agraharam, the settlement of Brahmins (considered one of the higher social classes in ancient India), where the mere notion of a donkey (an icon of the working class) replacing the sacred cow as a domestic animal breeds hostility."

*** *** ***

A Tribute to Ritwik Ghatak
by John Abraham :

Ritwik Ghatak,
in partition, not physically of willingness
-the country departed
Out of his outer consciousness - cosmic consciousness
none of his mistakes,
Reactions - natural reactions - reflections
Ritwik Ghatak,
refugee, unborn, unwanted, unbearable
penetrative towards the Victorian hangover
of the Tagorian corruption of thinking

Life was more important to him
than the words in praise of god,
the god of Victorian Tagorian thinking.

Hence, he was rejected from the Bengalian thinking
Ritwik Ghatak - the name doesn't suit
the hierarchic thinking of
the Raynian Zamidarian thinking
Perhaps, the long echo of the forgotten factors
that becomes reminiscence of
the 'death of the salesman' or otherwise
the long columns and no more Chhabi Biswas,
Cardiac arrest is common.
The death of Ghatak is uncommon.

Nay, Ritwik Ghatak
I remember, a tall man
his hands moving around my shoulders,
catching me with the feeling of nearness,
rather than imperialism-
the man who stands before me
questioning my manliness
loosing his hands to shake my hands
in appreciation of manliness
recognizing each other-
abiding in each other
kicking on my an's and telling me
"Get up, awake shoot"
I remember, not with sentiments
with awakening proud, Ritwik Ghatak

Ritwik Daa,
let me call you Ritwik Daa,
I know that you are no more.
But I am, alive for you
Believe me. When the seventh seal is opened
I will use my camera as my gun
and I am sure the echo of the sound
will reverberate in your bones,
and feed back to me for my inspiration.

( ... )

*** *** ***

Of his films, seemingly impossible to see just a few months back and still with no dvd release in sight, Amma Ariyan is now partially available to watch (to be aware of) on YouTube and Donkey in an Elite Colony is available as a torrent download. But -- means to what end? Abraham, who is now labelled as an "avant-gardist", "anarchist", or "nomad of Indian cinema", was actually more directly engaged with people than any other Indian filmmaker of the period or since, having initiated the Odessa Collective, which managed to fund the production of the film through contributions during screenings of Chaplin's The Kid, and thereafter released non-commercially -- "for whomever so desires them". Donkey in an Elite Colony, with echoes of Vertov and Buñuel (and less significantly, Bresson), astonishes, considering the conditions in which it was made, put together, not for such substantial use of non-professional performers (unprecedented in Indian cinema?) nor for its rough manner of incorporating didacticism and poeticism, but for the delirious, short montage effects (in particular, the university graffiti sequence and later, a mountaintop killing) which articulate the visceral force with which Abraham is driving toward expressions of emotion and consciousness.


Blogger HarryTuttle said...

Thanks for the YT link. I just watched Amma Ariyan in Paris, but had missed the first sequence. It is a great film, maybe a little amateurish (narrative wise) but the cinematography and the underlying ideas are quite powerful.

7:39 PM  
Blogger nitesh said...

Adoor Gopalakrishnan on John Abraham

7:38 PM  
Blogger Mubarak Ali said...

Thanks, Harry and Nitesh. The new Indian Auteur e-magazine looks stunning. Will do some reading there very soon...

11:43 PM  
Blogger nitesh said...

Thanks Mubarak, Hope you like the e-mag. We hoping to improve in a positive direction with each month.

Beside, your blog has always been inspiring...and definitely helped us to realize IA in some form or the other.

10:54 PM  
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