Category Archives: Masters of the trade

Legends in their own rights … we can only try and learn from them.

Hayao Miyazaki – a parallel universe

Hayao Miyazaki – a parallel universe

written by Souranath Banerjee

Generations of kids from around the world are fascinated and enchanted by the ever-popular Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and my-neighbor-totoro-postertheir adorable friends, but I doubt how many youngsters have heard about ‘Porco Rosso‘ ‘Chihiro‘ or ‘Totoro‘!

Have you by any chance met the intelligent ‘Laputian Robots’, or the eerie spirit ‘No Face‘ whose face is literally missing? Have you ever taken a ride in a ‘CatBus‘ or seen the Goldfish Princess ‘Ponyo‘?

Well, there is a whole parallel universe of mesmerizing animation waiting to be explored (if not explored already); the imaginative world of a genius named Hayao Miyazaki.

John Lasseter, the director of Toy StoryA Bug’s Life and Cars, and probably the most successful animator/director/producer in Hollywood says about Miyazaki:

‘I love his films. I study his films. I watch his films when I’m looking for inspiration.’

Hayao Miyazaki won two Academy awards (nominated thrice), one for best animated feature Spirited Away and the other, the Honorary Academy Award for his impact on animation and cinema (the second Japanese filmmaker to get this award after Akira Kurosawa in 1990).

The co-founder of the famous Japanese production house Studio Ghibli (along with master director Isao Takahata), Mr. Miyazaki have the unique ability to tell his stories, though mostly from a children’s perspective but often loaded with hidden messages or allegories to feed the matured minds as well.

Trailer of his film My Neighbor Totoro (1988).

Thus, in a career that spanned for over five decades, his films though always having a fairytale quality are appreciated by all (regardless of their age), through out the world.

In 1997 a film called Princess Mononoke gave Hayao Miyazaki the fame he so rightly deserved. Not only did the film broke all Japanese box office records but since it was distributed by Disney across the world, Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli became instantly recognized in the global animation market.

And then came his most commercially and critically successful film Spirited Away that also won him an Oscar!

There was also Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) and Ponyo (2008) which only confirmed his supremacy as a legendary animation director.

But Mr. Miyazaki with his classic approach towards animation (he The-Wind-Rises-posterstill prefers hand-drawing each frame rather than digitizing) is still media shy and prefers to work peacefully from his own place.

According to him ‘We should possess the wisdom to live in our corner of the world in peace.’

With his last film The Wind Rises (2013) he has officially announced his retirement. He intends to work on the Studio Ghibli Museum, on which he jokingly comments ‘I might even become an exhibit myself’.

Compared with the creative brilliance of Walter Elias Disney (Walt Disney), Hayao Miyazaki is undoubtedly the best animator/director and the greatest Japanese filmmaker of today.

And on this day, Jan 5, his 75th Birthday – let’s wish him health, happiness and a request for a few more magical films (please).

Also do check out the documentary made on Mr. Miyazaki and his studio The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (2013), directed by Mami Sunada.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.compin.anime.comwww.japantimes.co.jp.

Smita Patil – a powerhouse of talent

Smita Patil – a powerhouse of talent.

written by Souranath Banerjee

Numerous popular stage performances, more than 80 films in Hindi, Marathi and other regional languages, a torchbearer of the Indian parallel cinema, two National Awards as ‘best actress’, many Filmfare Awards and also the recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri – all-that in a career which spanned only over a decade as Smita Patil passed away at the young age of 31!

Smita-pic1In the early 70s Smita Patil used to be a television newscaster for Doordarshan when acclaimed filmmaker Shyam Benegal took notice of her and gave her the first role in his film Charandas Chor (1975).

Mr.Benegal who later worked with Smita in numerous other films recalled the first time he met her ‘She had a presence which I felt could be well utilised in cinema’. And indeed so.

Smita patil’s performance in Bhumika (for which she received her first National Award at the age of 21) impressed Jaya Bhaduri so much that she commented ‘makes you sit up and take notice. Her reflexes are uninhibited and she has a face with tremendous mobility’. 

A few starting scenes from Shyam Benegal’s Bhumika.

The most expressive eyes ever to have graced the celluloid; her dusky and sensuous looks and the capability to play any character (no matter how challenging) with extreme ease and perfection soon established Smita Patil as one of the most talented actress of Indian Cinema.

A scene from Mahesh Bhatt‘s precious film Arth (1982).

In the early years of her career she concentrated only on art cinema.

Along with Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri, Smita Patil formed the four essential pillars of the then popular parallel cinema.

A beautiful song sequence from the film Jait Re Jait (1977) along with Mohan Agashe

Smita Patil being an activist for women’s rights became particularly famous for her roles that portrayed women as capable and empowered.

Smita-pic2She was probably the first actress who gave the directors enough
courage to make films with female lead characters in mind, something refreshingly different from the conventional male-dominated cinema that existed in Bollywood.

In films like BhumikaUmbarthaBazaar and Mirch Masala Smita Patil’s performances were intensely appreciated both by the critics and the audience. 

A scene from Ketan Mehta‘s brilliant film Mirch Masala (1987) with Naseeruddin Shah as the notorious Subedar and Smita Patil as the daredevil Sonbai.

On the occasion of 100 years of the Indian cinema, in honor of Smita Patil a postage stamp bearing her face was released by the Indian government.

Probably the only actress who could do justice to critically acclaimed films like ChakraSadgati, Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai, Ardh SatyaMandiAakroshChidambaram and on the other hand be equally comfortable with hardcore commercial films like Namak HalaalKasam Paida Karne Wale KiShakti and so on. 

In Smita Patil’s own words:

‘I remained committed to small cinema for about five years … I refused all commercial offers. Around 1977-78, the small cinema movement started picking up and they needed names. I was unceremoniously dropped from a couple of projects. This was a very subtle thing but it affected me a lot. I told myself that here I am and I have not bothered to make money. I have turned down big, commercial offers because of my commitment to small cinema and what have I got in return? If they want names I’ll make a name for myself. So I started and took whatever came my way.’

Picture curtsey: www.filmimpressions.com. 

Quentin Tarantino – the brilliant use of music in his films

Quentin Tarantino – the brilliant use of music in his films

written by Souranath Banerjee

Quentin Tarantino – the brilliant use of music in his films: One of the most popular American director of our times, Quentin Tarantino is a name that needs no introduction.

His films are a confluence of wacky dialogues, stylish yet graphic violence (often in slow motion), non-linear storytelling and unforgettable music!

tarantino-posterHardly any director in the world has Tarantino’s gift of choosing the perfect soundtrack that would sync and enhance the visuals of a particular scene to another level of  awesomeness.

‘I’m a big collector of vinyl – I have a record room in my house – and I’ve always had a huge soundtrack album collection. So what I do, as I’m writing a movie, is go through all those songs, trying to find good songs for fights, or good pieces of music to layer into the film.’
 

For instance, in his first film Reservoir Dogs (1992) there is this famous torture sequence popularly known as ‘the ear scene’ where Michael Madsen playing a psychopath groves to the happy tune of ‘Stuck in the Middle With You’ by Stealers Wheel while torturing the tied up police officer Kirk Baltz.

Well, let’s just say … Tarantino has an ear for good music.

And then, in Pulp Fiction (1994), before John Travolta takes a ride high on drugs, the whole heroine-trip sequence shot beautifully in extreme close-ups is perfectly synced with the soundtrack ‘Bullwinkle Part II’ by The Centurians.    

‘To me, movies and music go hand in hand. When I’m writing a script, one of the first things I do is find the music I’m going to play for the opening sequence.’

The perfect example, in his film Jackie Brown (1997) the title sequence where the camera follows Pam Grier traveling through the airport while Bobby Womack’s jazzy tune ‘Across 110th Street’ plays in the background – the effect is simply awesome. 

Tarantino often uses music to play with his audience’s psychology.

In Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) the famous whistling tune ‘Twisted Nerve’ originally composed by legendary Bernard Herrmann, prepares the audience with the anticipation of danger as a deadly killer, codename California Mountain Snake (played by Daryl Hannah) is the one who whistles it before a hit.

And finally, a girl (Mélanie Laurent) prepares for revenge; a deadly plan to blast a theater full of Nazis and the epic soundtrack ‘Cat People (Putting Out Fire)‘ by David Bowie is brilliantly played in the background in Inglourious Basterds (2009). 

By the way, the latest Tarantino Movie The Hateful Eight is awesome but then I really missed that one special soundtrack that redefines his movie, the signature of the acclaimed director. Do you agree?

Photo curtsey: www.telegraph.co.ukwww.miramax.com.

Andrei Tarkovsky – the sculptor of time

Andrei Tarkovsky – the sculptor of time. 

written by Souranath Banerjee

‘My discovery of Tarkovsky’s first film was like a miracle. Suddenly, I found myself standing at the door of a room the keys of which had, until then, never been given to me. It was a room I had always wanted to enter and where he was moving freely and fully at ease. 

I felt encouraged and stimulated: someone was expressing what I had always wanted to say without knowing how. Tarkovsky is for me the greatest, the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream.’ 

– Ingmar Bergman on Tarkovsky.

The famous Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky himself believed that ‘Art is born and takes hold wherever there is a timeless and insatiable longing for the spiritual, for the ideal: that longing which draws people to art.’

A sequence from his epic film Ivan’s Childhood (1962), where Tarkovsky made sure he created cinema that is both ‘spiritual’ and ‘timeless‘. 

Steven Soderbergh, who remade Solaris (2002) with George Clooney in the lead confessed ‘I’m a big fan of Tarkovsky. I think he’s an actual poet, which is very rare in the cinema, and the fact that he had such an impact with only seven features I think is a testament to his genius.’

Son of the famous Russian poet Arseny Alexandrovich Tarkovsky, the films Tarkovsky made were essentially poetic and mystic in nature. They are distinguished by metaphysical themes, extensive use of long takes and very few cuts, and they also (most often) deviates from all the general film-narrative structures. 

The famous levitation scene from Solaris (1972), Tarkovsky’s experiment with the Sci Fi genre.

Lars von Trier while explaining why he dedicated his film Antichrist (2009) to Tarkovsky mentioned ‘Have you ever seen a film called Mirror? I was hypnotised! I’ve seen it 20 times. It’s the closest I’ve got to a religion – to me he is God.’

Tarkovsky1But then again, majority of the audience and many critics across the world find his style of cinema too intricate and often impenetrable; they find his expansive long takes too languid and even boring. His cinema demands a little bit of patience.

Tarkovsky, who never believed in commercialization of cinema claimed that ‘If the regular length of a shot is increased, one becomes bored, but if you keep on making it longer, it piques your interest, and if you make it even longer a new quality emerges, a special intensity of attention.’

A sequence from The Mirror (1975), the shamanistic visuals that blur the lines of dreams and reality. 

After Tarkovsky’s death on 29 December 1986 Akira Kurosawa spoke of his ‘unusual sensitivity [as] both overwhelming and astounding. It almost reaches a pathological intensity. Probably there is no equal among film directors alive now.’

Tarkovsky wrote the famous book on film theory known as Sculpting in Time, where he spoke about his inspirations and also the power of cinema as a medium that can alter our experience of time.

His unique cinematography and remarkable ability to freeze time still exhilarate and inspire filmmakers and will continue to do so forever.

My favorite scene from Stalker (1979), visuals so magical and enigmatic that it gives almost a supernatural feeling.

Photo Courtesy: http://andrei-tarkovsky.com

Dilip Kumar – the man who redefined acting.

Dilip Kumar – the man who redefined acting.

written by Souranath Banerjee

In the 40s, when the legendary actors K.L. SaigalPrithviraj Kapoor and Ashok Kumar were still running the show in the Mumbai Film Industry, three superstars burst into the scene with their debut films lined up within a couple of years to each other – Dipil Kumar Jwar Bhata (1944), Dev Anand Hum Ek Hain (1946) and Raj Kapoor Neel Kamal (1947).

dev-anand-raj-kapoor-and-dilip-kumarThey changed the concept of stardom and in the process revolutionized Indian Cinema!

One of the most popular heroine of the time, Devika Rani and her husband Himansu Rai, the owner of the famous Bombay Talkies studio spotted young Dilip Kumar and gave him his first break.

And thus, at the age of 22, Mohammed Yusuf Khan, the son of a fruit merchant from Peshawar and at the time a canteen manager by profession, changed his name to Dilip Kumar and tried his luck in acting.

Dilip-kumar2But his first film Jwar Bhata was a big flop and all the critics doubted the debutant’s acting capability!

Little did they know that this debutant’s career will span over the next six decades and with over 60 films; that this aspiring actor will be the first recipient of Filmfare Best Actor Award (1954) and will also eventually hold the Guinness World Record for the maximum number of awards won by any Indian actor ever (8 Filmfare Best Actor awards and 19 Filmfare nominations). And in 1993 he was given with the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award too.

Devdas-poster1Dilip Kumar is honored by the Government of India with the Padma Bhushan award in 1991, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1994 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2015 for his contributions towards Indian cinema and is also nominated to Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Indian parliament for a term.

Even the Government of Pakistan honoured him with their highest civilian honour Nishan-e-Imtiaz in 1997!

Dilip Kumar’s image as an actor was primarily that of the ‘Tragedy King’. HulchulJoganTaranaDeedarDaagMadhumatiGunga Jumna – in all these films he specialized in playing the intensely passionate, sensitive yet doomed lover (no wonder he was also the ideal ‘Devdas’ for Bimal Roy‘s famous tragic drama Devdas 1955).

Madhumati-posterSuch was his involvement in these tragic roles that he soon suffered from depression in his personal life and following his psychiatrist’s opinion Dilip Saab started acting in light-hearted films and social dramas as well. Such films were AanAzaadNaya DaurMusafirKohinoor.

In the films Ram Aur Shyam and Dastaan he played double roles and in Bairaag he even did a triple role!

andazHis acting capability was probably most appreciated in Mehboob Khan‘s superhit film Andaz (1949) where he was paired opposite to Raj Kapoor and Nargis. And also (towards the last phase of his acting career) in the film Shakti (1982) where he clashed with superstar Amitabh Bachchan

But Dilip Kumar’s most popular role till date will be as Prince Saleem  in K. Asif‘s magnum opus Mughal-E-Azam (1957).

Mughal-E-Azam-posterHis performance – the emotional duels with Prithviraj Kapoor (who played the part of Akbar) and the romantic chemistry with Madhubala (who played Anarkali) have become some of the most proud moments in the history of Indian Cinema.

Dilip Kumar’s use of silence in certain scenes was legendary. Many a times he managed to convey a lot without even speaking a word, only through his eyes, expressions and body language.

And he mastered the technique of turning his back to the camera, hiding his facial emotions from the audience and intensifying the drama of the scene in an unique way.

A famous scene with Raj Kapoor from the film Andaz is a perfect example of such tenique.

He was recognized as “the ultimate method actor” by Satyajit Ray himself.

By the way, Dilip Kumar refused the role of “Sherif Ali” which was offered to him by the famous British director David Lean for his film Lawrence of Arabia (1962). The role eventually went to the Egyptian actor, Omar Sharif.

with-Bimal-RoyDilip Saab had great regards for director Bimal Roy with whom he had worked in classics such as YahudiMadhumati and Devdas. He fondly remembered him with his kind words:

Today we have institutions, they teach cinema, acting etc. We did not have these in our times. We had instead directors like Bimal Roy’.

As Dilip Kumar recently touched 90, we wish him good health and thank him for not only his enormous contribution to Indian Cinema but also for entertaining us for decades by his sheer enigmatic screen presence.

A living legend indeed!

Katharine Hepburn – from ‘box office poison’ to ‘greatest female star’ of hollywood

Katharine Hepburn – from ‘box office poison’ to ‘greatest female star’ of Hollywood.

written by Souranath Banerjee

After inquiring onto whom i am writing about today, one of my dear friend asked me ‘Did you mean Audrey Hepburn? I know Marilyn MonroeElizabeth Taylor, even Sophia Loren but who is Katharine Hepburn?’

Hepburn5Well, i don’t blame my friend since firstly he is not too much into Hollywood movies and secondly, lets face it – Katharine Hepburn’s visual image is not as popular as some of her contemporary heroines mentioned above.

Katharine Hepburn was neither a style-icon like Audrey Hepburn, nor a diva like Marilyn or a sexy siren like Elizabeth Taylor or Sofia Loren.

But undoubtedly she was one damn good actress!

A career that ran for more than six decades, in which she was nominated 12 times for the Oscars in the ‘Best Actress’ category and won 4 of them. This is the record maximum number of Oscars won by any performer (actor/actress) till date.

Hepburn4In 1999, Katharine Hepburn was named by the American Film Institute as the ‘greatest female star in Hollywood History’, beating popular actresses like Bette Davis and Ingrid Bergman for the top spot.

Her career though began with initial success wasn’t all smooth and up-hill throughout her life.

Within a couple of years into Hollywood, Katharine won her first Oscar for her performance in Morning Glory (1933). It was her third film!

But then her career took a down fall and most of her films didn’t do well in the box-office. And on top of that she had problems with the press. She was too straightforward (often rude) to the reporters and the american audience didn’t seem to like her attitude. 

Hepburn-Stewart-posterEventually her unpopular image was blamed for most of her film’s failures and the Hollywood big-shot Production Houses reacted to it.

Katharine Hepburn was soon termed as the ‘box office poison’ and her film offers quickly dried out.

But it was certainly not the end of her career; far from it.

She planned her mega-comeback with the help of Howard Hughes (her partner at the time) who bought her the rights of the famous play The Philadelphia Story.

the-philadelphia-story-posterKatharine eventually sold the film-rights of the play to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on condition that she would be the star of the film. She also choose the director (George Cukor) and the stars Cary Grant and James Stewart.

In the film The Philadelphia Story (1940) she skillfully crafted her character so that the audience would laugh at her and eventually sympathize. And that’s exactly what happened!

The film became the top grossing movie of that year; she was nominated for the Oscars for her brilliant performance but more importantly she was welcomed back by the press and the audience.

lion-in-winter-posterAnd then there was no looking back for Hepburn. Throughout the 50s and the mid 60s she gave one hit after another – The African QueenSummertime, The RainmakerSuddenly, Last SummerLong Day’s Journey Into Night and many more. For most of these films she was nominated at the Oscars!

But her real success came in the late 60s when she bagged two back to back Oscars for the films Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968). She scooped another Oscar towards the end of her career for the film On Golden Pond (1981). 

Tracy-Hepburn-posterHepburn was a very private person, never liked to be bothered by reporters or her fans. Her twenty-seven years relationship with Spencer Tracy was kept a secret from the public for a long time!

Though married once early in her life Hepburn never had any children. She believed that motherhood to be a full-time commitment and said she was not ready for it.

She was claimed to be an headstrong person who was honest and blunt with her comments. She had great work ethics and was always enthusiastic about her projects.

Hepburn3Films, theaters, television – she kept herself busy with work till the last years of her life.

On June 29, 2003 when Katharine Hepburn died (at the age of 96), American president George W. Bush said Hepburn “will be remembered as one of the nation’s artistic treasures.” 

Her witty remarks were always impressive.

“I strike people as peculiar in some way, although I don’t quite understand why. Of course, I have an angular face, an angular body and, I suppose, an angular personality, which jabs into people.” 

PS – Directed by Martin Scorsese, the film The Aviator (2004) which was made on life of Howard HughesCate Blanchett‘s portrayed Katharine Hepburn. And that makes Cate the first performer to win an Oscar for playing a real-life Oscar Winner!

A few famous scenes from the film The Philadelphia Story.

Rituparno Ghosh – the most courageous director of our time

Rituparno Ghosh – the most courageous director of our time.

written by Souranath Banerjee.

12 National awards and many international ones tagged to his name; Rituparno Ghosh is one of India’s most proclaimed director of all times.

unishe-april-posterHe was also a writer, actor, lyricist and a brilliant television talk-show host!

His second film Unishe April won the National Award in the year 1995 and announced the arrival of a Bengali director who has bestowed himself with the responsibility of continuing the tradition of making classy Bengali films which are both intellectual and entertaining at the same time.

Not an easy task since his predecessors were globally influential stalwarts; the likes of Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak.   

last-lear-posterNow, if one cares to analyze the time when Rituparno Ghosh started his career (in the early 90s), evidently it was the time when Bengali Cinema was going through a tough phase.

Throughout the 80s there was this trend of commercializing Bengali films which apparently meant a desperate attempt to ape the popular Bollywood culture of elaborate songs and action sequences. And thus happened this major shift in the trend of Bengali Cinema – from the earlier artistic films to the so-called ‘commercially entertaining’ ones.

In the year 1991 Satyajit Ray won the National award for his last feature film Agantuk. By that time, apart from a handful of film-makers like Goutam GhoseAparna Sen and Buddhadev Dasgupta, the Bengali film industry was flooded with mediocre directors and their mass-pleasing movies.

badiwali-posterBengali industry was in need for someone to create a balance between the traditional arty films and the commercial ones and Rituparno Ghosh was THE director who had the courage and the capability to fill-up this vacuum!

The success of Unishe April was followed by superb films like DahanBariwaliUtsabChokher BaliRaincoatDosarAbohomaanShob Charitro KalponikNoukadubiChitrangada and many more.

More than two decades of Rituparno’s magical cinemas.

Dosar-posterIn the early phase of Rituparno’s film-making career his films mostly portrayed the middle-class Bengali families, their desires and despairs. This was probably his most successful phase as he skillfully intersected the typical average Bengali household and delicately revealed it’s secrets to us.

He worked with many talented Tollywood actors like Prasenjit ChatterjeeDebashree RoyRaima SenTota Roy ChowdhuryKonkona Sen SharmaAparna SenIndrani HaldarDipankar DeyMithun ChakrabortyChiranjitRupa GangulyMamata ShankarJishu Sengupta and others.

Raincoat-PosterThen came the phase when he would make films not only in Bengali but also in English and Hindi and his star-cast would be mostly actors and actress from Bollywood. He has worked with Aishwarya Rai BachchanSharmila TagoreNandita DasJackie ShroffAbhishek BachchanSoha Ali KhanAmitabh BachchanAjay DevgnAnnu KapoorKiron KherPreity ZintaArjun RampalDivya DuttaManisha KoiralaBipasha Basu and others.

And in the last phase of his career he mostly made films on stories that dealt with sexuality. These bold films were probably more personal to him since Rituparno himself was openly homosexual and in the last years of his life he also explored a transgender lifestyle. 

chitrangada-posterHe once said “It is for me to decide whether I will stand in the queue for men or for women or neither of the two.”

Towards the end of his career Rituparno Ghosh also acted in a few films like Aarekti Premer GolpoMemories in March and Chitrangada.

A great admirer of Rabindranath Tagore, a researcher of the epic book Mahabharata and an ardent fan of Satyajit Ray – Rituparno Ghosh, a person who loved cinema and was loved by all.

One of those rare directors whose films received the peak of both critical and commercial acclaim.

As film-maker Goutam Ghose remembered him after Rituparno’s death on 30 May 2013 – 

dahan-poster“His films, with their sensitive portrayal of human relationships, anguish, trauma and love in a fast-changing, post-liberalization India charmed audiences. His brilliant story-telling reflected contemporary society like never before. While his death creates a tremendous void that can never be filled, Rituparno’s work blazed a trail that has paved the way for an entire generation of filmmakers who have dared to be different. It was Rituparno who gave them the courage.”

A salute to the most courageous film-maker of our time.

Sven Nykvist – the greatest cinematographer of all time?

Sven Nykvist – the greatest cinematographer of all time?

written by Souranath Banerjee.

Winner of two Oscar awards, a career spanning over half a century, orchestrated over 120 films, being Ingmar Bergman‘s favorite cinematographer for more than three decades and also collaborated with other renowned film-makers including Andrei Tarkovsky, Philip Kaufman, Woody Allen, Bob RafelsonRichard Attenborough, Lasse HallströmRoman Polanski and Louis Malle – if anybody is eligible for the title of ‘Best cinematographer of all time’ then i am sure the Swedish genius Sven Vilhem Nykvist will be given the very first preference.

Sven Nykvist shot images which where simple yet profound, most natural yet meaningful and significant.

A brilliant camera operator and also the ‘master of light’ – he preferred to use more of natural light or soft bounce lighting and favored geometrically precise shot compositions. 

In his own words “When you are operating the camera, you forget all about the other people around you. You just see this little scene and you live in that and you feel it. For me, operating the camera is a sport and it helps me do better lighting. I prefer to shoot on location because in the studio you have too many possibilities, too many lights to destroy your whole picture.”

He was nominated thrice for the Oscars – in 1973 for Cries & Whispers, in 1983 for Fanny and Alexander and also in 1989 for The Unbearable Lightness of Being. He won the award in the first two occasions.   

His simple imagery speaks volumes and creates such depths and intensity.

He also won a special prize ‘Best Artistic Contribution’ at the Cannes Film Festival for the film The Sacrifice (1986) which was also the last film made by the famous Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky.

By the way Sven Nykvist also directed five feature films out of which his last film Oxen (1991) was nominated at the Oscars in the ‘Best foreign Language Film’ category from Sweden that year. 

The greatest cinematographer of all time – yes probably so but more importantly Sven Nykvist’s talent, his mastery on lights and camera, his authority on capturing beauty and his high professional ethics will always be considered as legendary.

Charlie Chaplin and his image of ‘The tramp.’

Charlie Chaplin and his image of ‘The tramp.’

written by Souranath Banerjee.

Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin popularly known as Charlie Chaplin was a man of all trades and also a master of them all!

Mordern times posterCharlie Chaplin was an actor (his screen persona of ‘the tramp’ is globally recognized), a director (one of the best in the world), writer, producer, editor and also a brilliant music composer.

Classic Charlie Chaplin films like City LightsThe Gold RushModern Times, The Kid and The Great Dictator always make the list of the greatest films ever made. Our all time favorites.

I doubt if any other personality in the history of world cinema is capable of such versatility and success.

the kid posterBut the best of Charlie Chaplin comedies are no ordinary slapstick laugh riots.

They have this rare quality of reaching out to us in layers more than we can comprehend in a conscious level. They evoke such profound sympathy for the poor/funny tramp that we cannot help but shed a few tears in the midst of all the apparent laughter.

We can never forget scenes like the one from his film Gold Rush when the Tramp tries his best to impress his lady friends at the dinner table.

And I am sure you remember the famous scene of Charlie’s despair when Jackie Coogan (the kid in the film The Kid) cries out for his father (Charlie Chaplin) while being forcibly taken away by the ‘County Orphan Asylum’ men.

Or the heart wrenching last scene of City Lights when Virginia Cherrill (the blind girl) finally recognizes the tramp who helped her get back her eyesight.

In one of his earlier films The Circus Charlie Chaplin had set the trend by playing the part of the poor lover boy who sacrifices his the-circus posterunexpressed love and takes initiative to let the girl go with some other guy only for the sake of their happiness. Ever since this theme has been a success formula for innumerable films across the world.

A visionary who made us laugh and cry at the same time, a legend to whom we are indebted for films that we absolutely love and will keep on cherishing for generations to come.

I’m emotional about most things but objective about my work. I don’t get satisfaction out of it, I get relief’.—Charlie Chaplin, New Yorker interview, 1950. 

Also check out a rare documentary ‘The Chaplin Puzzle‘ narrated by Burgess Meredith.

Rahul Dev Burman and his unique composition techniques!

Rahul Dev Burman and his unique composition techniques!

written by Souranath Banerjee.

The King of the 70s, the super-talented composer, a passionate singer, an actor, son of renowned singer/composer Sachin Dev Burman – the legend – Mr. R.D.Burman (Rahul Dev Burman) popularly known as Pancham Da is the man who revolutionized Bollywood Music Industry!

rahul-dev-burmanHe composed musical scores for 331 films (including Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil, Oriya and Marathi ) and four non-film albums; he was nominated 16 times for Filmfare awards and won thrice.

Not only did Rahul Dev Burman created new-age songs that has influences from Western, Latin, Oriental, and Arabic music,  his unique techniques  of composing music is legendary till date!

Here are some of his innovative and most unique music recording ideas that will remain with us forever:

1. In the song Chura Liya hai tumne from the film Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973) Rahul Dev Burman used the sound of a spoon hitting a glass as a prelude!

2. In O Manjhi Re from the film Khushboo (1975), Rahul Dev Burman used bottles filled with water at different levels and by blowing into them created a hollow sound that was used as the background music throughout the song!

3. Rahul Dev Burman blew into beer bottles to produce the opening beats of melodious Mehbooba Mehbooba song in the blockbuster film Sholay (1975)!

4. In Master Ji Ki Aa Gayee Chitthhi from film Kitaab (1977) Rahul Dev Burman brought some desks from a classroom in the recording studio and banged them to compose the rhythm of the song!

5. In Rajesh Khanna, Zeenat Aman starer film Ajanabee (1974) Rahul Dev Burman improvised all the train sounds and interludes himself in the famous song Hum Dono Do Premi.

6. The mouth-organ played by Dev Anand in the famous song Hai Apna Dil To Awara from the film Solva Saal (1958) sung by Hemanta Mukherjee is actually played by Rahul Dev Burman himself.

7. Once Rahul Dev Burman made the singer Annette Pinto gargle to produce a unique type of background music while other times he created music by rubbing sand paper or hitting bamboo sticks together. 

Perhaps words like ‘legend’ and ‘genius’ were invented only to describe such personalities like Rahul Dev Burman.

And finally one of my all time favorite composition from the film Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973) – the famous singing competition sequence with super-hit musical-numbers one after another!