Sunday, 2 March 2008

Cinema: 1


I wanted to become a “great” film director and make classics that endured the test of time. I ended up doing Engineering.

Back in 1970s in Trivandrum, where I grew up as a teenager, they had a very active film club movement going. For a nominal fee, you could get an annual membership and could be assured of at least three to four screenings every month. These film societies vied with each other to bring you, not only the great classics, but contemporary world cinema as well. Periodically, there were theme-based film festivals which were either country-specific or director-specific. So, one month it could be “Indian Panorama,” followed by a “Bergman Retrospective,” couple of months later.

You have to see this movement in the context of the college campus scene those days. Campuses in Kerala were throbbing with raw energy and were hotbeds for creativity and political activism. We spent less time worrying about our examinations and grades (terms like TOEFL and GRE being totally unknown those days) and were more concerned about a war being waged in far away Vietnam. We had little time for our textbooks, but were enchanted by the existentialist dilemmas put forth by writers like Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre.

It was but natural that the young people of my age whole-heartedly embraced the new cinema movement. I guess it spoke to the rebel in them.

It is in this context I suddenly remember a brilliant movie called “27 Down”. Released in 1974, the movie won critical acclaim as well as reasonable success at the box office. With Rakhee and M.K. Raina essaying lead roles, the movie told the story of a young couple in Bombay trying hard to maintain a relationship, with the city and its inhabitants constantly intruding into their time, privacy and consciousness. 27 Down was shot in black and white and had a lot of street scenes including a few at the VT station during peak hour.

The movie marked the debut of a talented Kashmiri director, called Awtar Krishna Kaul. Sadly enough, it was to remain his last film as well. A few months after the release of the movie, Kaul died in a “drowning accident” off Juhu beach, in Bombay.

As for my romance with the movies, it continues to this day.

2 comments:

Suju said...

You are very lucky to have been in a place (and time) with access to such movies/movie-loving friends. I still haven't watched most of the Indian classic oldies [the madhu classics notwithstanding :-)] and they seem even rarer to obtain these days. I don't even know where to go if I do want to watch such movies ..

S.Vijayakumar said...

Rada,

I really admire your ability to recollect those vivid details so well. Yes, your romance with the movies continue...and will continue

Though I was also lucky to be a fellow comrade of the movement of the mid seventies,my memory stops with the movie title.Rest of the memory has been affected by ' TANMAATRA ' syndrom, I guess. Hehe

Our Santhan was another member of the movement.

I remember "Duvidha " by Mani Kaul " Calcutta 71 " By Mrinal Da.

Yes, as you said those movies communicated directly with the rebel in you.

vijay

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Stepping Sideways... by K. Radhakrishnan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.