As an engineering student with a love for cinema, I get minimal opportunity to obsess about it outside my circle of friends and family. It probably comes from my dad- I love to dissect a movie and try to see what I have understood of it. I don’t think that I’m all that great, but it’s lot of fun for me to do. I got an opportunity to do it on a more professional standpoint when I heard about the Media Meet 2016 organised by the Media Department of Christ University. I got to publish a paper there; it’s a conference and seminar that was held on 4th and 5th August, 2016.
My paper, titled Two Moons (a reference to their first movie together) studied the collaborative works of director Singeetam Srinivasa Rao and actor Kamal Haasan. Their movies together (especially Michael Madana Kama Rajan, my most favourite movie of all time) are some of the best Tamil movies ever made. If you happen to be a cinephile who has not seen them, I definitely recommend it (and take a peep at my paper while you’re at it).
DAY 1 – 04.08.2016
I arrived at Christ at eight in the morning and what immediately struck me was the vibrant atmosphere. There was a literal buzz of activity on campus, it was really uplifting. I have heard a lot about the oppressive rules in the college and must say, the students do well for themselves despite all that. And the campus! Having never gone inside the University before, I did not expect such a large campus with such ample lung space everywhere (they had a fountain that worked, and a bird bath! That’s luxury as far as Bangalore campuses go). I walked what felt like a kilometre before arriving at the designated block, and registered myself. The inauguration was pretty standard, Bharatanatyam dance, lamp lighting- the usual.
We jumped right into the talk by the first guest speaker, Mr.Devanshu Singh. He spoke about his love for cinema and what motivated him- trying to understand how cinema can elicit such powerful responses from its audience. He said it was what made him pursue movies, to try decoding the magic. It appeared like cogitative reasoning to me, where dots where connected backwards in retrospection. He also spoke about the importance of doing whatever it takes to reach a goal, and try to use what we have to get to where we want. He did anything that was related to movies and used what he had (a way with words) to get to where he wanted (be in that biz). It was a really well rounded talk with a chill vibe.
Then we began with the presentations itself. There were eight panels where the presentations took place simultaneously, with three speakers per room. The first session was at 10:15 and went up to 11:15. Two of the three papers were really great I think, one which spoke about the ways nationalism is incorporated in the movie Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. The other was about how classism in Kanjeevaram sarees was highlighted by the movie Kanchivaram. She spoke about various aspects of that movie from closing sequence to the poster of the movie that highlighted said topic. The other paper spoke about future of television. The reason I didn’t find it so great was because they went into detail about how much TV has evolved for the last twenty thirty years without actually going into the topic itself, stopping at streaming and present ways of TV viewing.
A short tea break later, we got on to session two, from 11:30 to 12:30. Here I really liked the first paper that was presented. It spoke about the new-wave movies in Malayalam and compared it to the works of Director Padmarajan, in particular about the way women are portrayed. The other two were on marketing strategies used by independent Indian movies and the neo-realism of Indian cinema. They were good, but the first one was a standout for me.
The nerves were starting to pile up by this point. My paper was going to be presented at 1:15 so I quickly grabbed some lunch and went up to my room- 604. My paper was the first to be presented and I had made a PPT and everything (my first one ever. Thank you Google). I have never presented a paper before this, the whole concept was alien to me until a two years ago which was when I learnt something like ‘writing papers’ was even possible. I also wanted to do a good job conveying my love for my subject. So when I got on that stage, I was a bundle of nerves. I rambled most of it at break neck speed, because it was a fifteen minute long presentation and I was feeling like people might get bored. The QandA was me stuttering my answers, feeling like Eminem in Loose Yourself, nerves all over the place.
The presentation got over faster than I thought and we were soon headed to the main auditorium where the Panel Discussion on ‘Censorship in Cinema’ was to take place. The panellists included Dr.Geetha B from BITS Pilani, Nikkil Muguran (a PRO based in Chennai), Samyuktha Hornad (actor), and Dr.Samantak Das from Jadavpur University. It was really entertaining, especially Dr.Samantak Das, who said some pretty outrageous things that made a lot of sense. The politicisation of the issue, lack of proper regulation, re-enforcement of patriarchy and sexism using censorship were all addressed. There was a follow-up QandA and it was really great to see how much people had to say about these things. When the discussion ended, we were free to head our way out.
DAY 2 05.08.2016
The quiz finals and talk by guest speaker Mayur Puri were done when I arrived on the second day. The first discussion I managed to catch was one by Ivory Lyons on the Influence of Cinema on Cinema. He used the examples of The Godfather and Star Wars franchise which have inspired many, many filmmakers. We saw snippets of other movies which had scenes borrowed from the mentioned two, how they parody it, revere it and try to make it their own. It was an interesting insight into how a filmmaker’s is not the sole owner of the meaning of the movie, but belongs to the fans as well.
Post lunch we headed to the main auditorium for a panel discussion on ‘Trends and Transisions in Cinema’. It was moderated by film/theatre personality Prakash Belwadi, with panellists VJ Abishek Raja, author Rajesh, Jhuma Basak (training analyst at CIPS). The focus of the panel was on how screenplay, sound and conveying emotions have changed over time. I found the part about sound especially fascinating- there was a lot that goes into sound in a movie that makes or breaks it.
We were nearing the end and I was extremely excited at this point. The keynote address was about to begin and it was going to be by Gautam Vasudev Menon. He walked into the auditorium with Talli pogathey playing in the background. I loved his vibe; it was very relaxed but attentive at the same time. I am quite a fan, his movies are really good at conveying what they set out to say. While the storylines sometimes leave me wishing things went differently, the movies I would have loved. Maybe an essay on his work sometime soon.
He spoke at length about how he got into movie making, where he started off and how he draws from his personal experiences. He is a clear romantic, and went on to describe scenes from his life or in his head with an accuracy that clean-swept into romanticization (I could relate deeply). He even spoke of alternate methods of funding that young filmmakers could employ and how with success like his comes a certain price with regard to who he can work with, what budget movies he can make etc. He finished it off by singing a song from his new movie (on the request of the audience) and did and good job at that too. I wish we could have had a longer addressing; he was really honest and candid.
The band from Christ played after that; they sang songs from his movies which were decent replications. The pronunciation was low-key bad and I wish they chose from a setlist that did not include every Vaaranam Ayiram song, but hey the instrumentation was solid. And on that note I end this exposition of the two days indulging my (not so) inner cinephile.
And if you’ve got to this point reading through it all, thank YOU!