Saturday, 24 January 2009

Save the Green Planet, my sensory organs and a revelation..

Being a Communication student at University of Hyderabad endows one with some glorious opportunities. Getting to meet some stalwarts is one of them. Prof. Earl Jackson from Seoul University in Korea visited us this week to be a part of the visual culture programme that SN School is hosting. During his sojourn, he screened one of the movies that created a visual revolution of sorts in Korea called Save the Green Planet.

The protagonist of the movie is crazy in the world’s perspective. Five minutes into the movie he kidnaps a corporate honcho who he thinks is an alien who will endanger the whole planet and its species. The movie then went on for about ninety minutes to show the ruthless torture that our ‘hero’ (protagonist is definitely the better word) subjects the villain (?) to. From peeling off his feet skin to nailing his hands just like Jesus Christ, any cruel thing you can think of was executed in the movie. Technically well made; yes. But my eyes, ears and particularly heart were aching by the time the movie ended. I was wondering why anybody would want to watch such violence through a medium that is essentially meant for entertainment.

Prof. Jackson led a discussion after the movie and it was eye-opening. The over-the-top violence became the issue in discussion; he explained how Koreans as a civilisation are used to the violence depicted in the movie. A history of butchering, colonisation and oppression made them identify with it like they have experienced it themselves. It was not new to them as it was for me or any of my classmates who closed their eyes for most of the shots.

I then thought how wrong generalisations are. The one I made a paragraph above, for example. A medium that is essentially meant for entertainment. For whom? For us Indians, cinema equates to entertainment. (Possibly, for westerners too. There is no way we would have got this connotation for cinema from anywhere else.) For us, music and dance is an integral part of our cinema viewing experience (Agreed, this is not so for westerners). True, we too have had a past of aggression and oppression. But not of the degree that Koreans or Japanese have experienced. Rightly enough, their cinematic sensibilities are different too.

Prof. Jackson also mentioned that while it was a path-breaking film in Korea, it was a financial disaster. The interesting thing is that it was not because people did not watch the movie. The makers of the movie were so confident about their creation that they arranged a lot of free shows in the initial weeks of release for word-of-mouth publicity to develop. Sadly, all the people who were to watch it watched it then. Nobody bought tickets to watch the movie later. So that was a marketing strategy gone awry. Due to some weird policy in Korea, the talented director Jang Jan-Hwan who sank into a financial depression wasn’t allowed to make another movie.

As much as the movie left an image of hopelessness in me, it struck a chord with millions of Koreans. After decades of restricted film making freedom, Jang broke free with this film and it means so much to that nation. This revelation compensates for the disturbance that I experienced the whole evening after watching the movie.

I guess I will watch Slumdog Millionaire and instil back the hope in me. :) Can't wait.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Some rattlings...

Sometimes, things happen not for a reason. My hiatus from blogging is such a thing. Yes, I know that it is a very philosophical way of explaining laziness.

While I am extremely sorry that almost two months slipped off through my fingers without any output, there were exciting things that kept me occupied. May be they have made my thinking/thought process clearer. May be, this will help me write better in future.

One of my goals when I decided I am going to be a part of the IFFK this year was to write reviews for the bad and good films I watch; to make a diary of them and present before you. Clearly, none of that has happened. Mainly because watching five films back to back for seven days continuously was in itself a task. Analyzing them at the end of the day just did not happen. However, I am trying to put together a briefing of sorts which will remain a memoir of the film extravaganza that I attended.

Since Sharada was around, my family went for a Kumarakom trip with her. We have been there before; but this one was special because all of us were together after a long time. A close friend from school got married on the Christmas day. To attend that, I cancelled a family Bangalore trip. I don’t regret it at all as the delight of Liya’s expression when she saw me compensates for it. I was her only friend who attended the wedding.

School friends are always so special. They see you grow through those transforming stages of life. They are the friends who you have for the longest time. They know your families and vice versa much better because school friendships are monitored and approved by parents more. You have shared tiffin boxes. You have fought for silly things and then forgotten about them the next day. You have grown up together to be what you are. I was extremely emotional to see Liya get married. For many many more reasons. It is the next stage of her life and I so wish she be the happiest ever married girl. She deserves it. As I write this, she is in her flight to Sydney with Micheal.

Much more has happened in the new year. A new semester has begun. I am back at the university missing all the family time I had in Kerala. Soon, I will slip into a mode where home is at the other end of phone calls; just that.

Our courses this semester are far more ‘serious’ than last semester. At least, they sound so.

  • Media Laws and Ethics
  • Communication and Social Change
  • Introduction to Advertising and PR
  • Print and Web Production

The last course is the one that I am looking forward to. I hope that it will help improve my status of a tech-ignorant person. More importantly, I will learn to deal with softwares that enable me to make my blog look better.

The post has been long. Sandhya chechi, thanks for letting me know in the meanwhile that you were missing me. This one is for you!