Monday, August 18, 2008
[screenings/discussion with director] Tales from the Margin (Aug 22, 23,24)
Give the the kid a pencil and a text-book
“Father suffered from a bad back. So did mother, my brothers and sisters and every other individual in a long line of relatives, friends and acquaintances. Since my early years, I have always seen the world around me as a great pyramid of leering human heads and at the bottom of this teeming hive-society, I could see us- the marginals, the outcasts – our bent backs being crushed relentlessly and with great apathy as the rest of the society scrambled up and down like swarms of head-insects, ganging-up, tricking, devouring and stampeding fellow species in a never-ending race to the glory of the pinnacle. The structure of this insect pyramid transforms and as it goes top heavy, we the sore hunchbacks are pushed deeper into the margins. Under the weight of a collected past history tradition myth curse hex, we sink into a sewer-like subterranean of perpetual darkness, of a darkness bleak and opaque where your senses are numbed and rendered useless. Gradually, we lose our sight, our hearing, our sense of taste and touch. The eyes go hollow, the ears dry up and a thick coat of ignorance replaces our skins. Only our bent backs will remain at the bottom of the hive-society and that too is vestigial. With our transformation into a dorsal torso, the great pyramid too will undergo a drastic change. As more and more individuals turn upwardly mobile with unilateral resolve and strive for positions in the higher echelons, the pyramid itself is inverted. The structure that once pointed upwards towards the glory now begins, because of its very ambition and inherent purpose, to point downwards towards the sewer. Very soon the hive-society will not so much be destroyed as it will come apart at the seams. The insects will trample and pull each other to the ground. Chaos and desperation will reign. All pretensions and constructs will fall. It is in that moment of disorder; the need for a guide will be realized. At that moment, I will stub out my cigarette; end my role as the perpetual observer and wooden stick in hand, walk back into the midst of society and preach about the mistakes of the past so that they may not be carried into the future. Only then will they listen, only then will this madman’s rant get his audience. Till then I just watch and smoke from out beyond the margins.”
- Translated from the paranoia and prophesy of Baba Shivnaam Muhammed Francis
Disclaimer: Smoking is Injurious to Health
Inundated with the story of India as seen by the bang-bang news media on the occasion of the 62nd Independence Day, Bangalore Film Society would like to offer an alternate point of view that sans sensationalism and jingoism seeks to explore from a forgotten, intimate, grass-root vantage point the notions and implications of ‘independence’ in the social fabric of the nation. Bangalore Film Society and Deep Focus Film Quarterly present to you a weekend of three films and an interaction with much feted and acclaimed actress/screenwriter/director Chitra Palekar which seeks to expand and complete the postcard-size view of Independence that the single-sided windows of textbooks and media have given us. Unheard voices, unseen stories- suppressed, repressed, crushed by the prejudices of society that conveniently masquerade as practices- these are stories of India, of its people, from the margins.
Friday 22nd August, 2008 Time: 6.30pm
Ankur (1973/131min) Dir: Shyam Benegal
When Surya (Anant Nag) is forced by his family to give up his studies to look after his ancestral land, his resulting loneliness and boredom causes him to strike a passionate relationship with the married maidservant, Laxmi. Complicating an already precarious relationship, Laxmi’s husband is caught thieving resulting in her abandonment and later, Surya’s child bride who comes to stay with her husband on attaining puberty, is quick to suspect the relationship between the two. Torn between loneliness and despair, Laxmi soon finds herself entrapped in the turbulence of her fate and the chauvinism of a rigid society that disguises its egotistical core under the cloak of respectability. One of the most prominent milestones of the Indian New Wave of the’70s director Shyam Benegal’s brilliant debut ‘Ankur’- a sensitive portrayal of love, betrayal and class conflict that did away with all conceits of good and bad, hero and villain and explored with rare ambiguity the complex terrain of caste politics, was nominated for the Golden Bear at Berlin Film Festival ’ 74 and won National Awards for Best Director for Benegal and Best Actress for Shabana Azmi, also debuting, for her courageous interpretation and brilliant performance of the central character Laxmi.
Saturday 23rd August 2008 Time: 6.30pm
Maati Maay (2006/98min) Dir: Chitra Palekar
Based on a short story by Jnanpith and Magsaysay awarding winning writer-activist Mahasweta Devi and featuring powerful performances from Nandita Das and Atul Kulkarni, Maati Maay is a poignant tale of a woman trapped between her instincts and needs, and the compulsions of her ancestral duty as dictated by the social system. A lower caste woman who manages the traditional burial grounds she inherited from her father, Chandi’s life takes a turn into one of conflict and uncertainty when she gives birth to a child of her own. The handling of corpses turns into an increasingly disturbing chore and the tiny corpses haunt her psyche even as she struggles to negotiate the dilemmas about her future that she is thrust into- who will protect the graves from wild animals…? Won’t the ancestors be angered…? Is it not wrong to give up a sacred trust? Finally, she dares to rebel and there will be consequences.
Selected Festivals and Awards
• BEST ACTRESS (MADRID 2007)
• SPECIAL JURY AWARD – CINEMATOGRAPHY (PUNE 2007)
• AUDIENCE AWARD (FLORENCE 2007)
• PRIX DU JURY GRAINE DE CINEPHAGE ( CRETEIL 2008)
• BEST DEBUT – LANKESH AWARD
• BEST PRODUCTION – MAHARASHTRA TIMES AWARD
• TORONTO INT’L FILM FEST 2006
• LONDON FILM FEST 2006
• INTERNATIONAL FILM FEST of INDIA 2006
• KERALA INT’L FILM FEST 2006
• MIAMI INT”L FILM FEST 2007
• CLEVELAND INT”L FILM FEST 2007
• MINNEAPOLIS INT’L FILM FEST 2007
• MOMA, NEW YORK 2007
Director Chitra Palekar will be present at the venue for a post screening discussion.
(Chitra Palekar was born in Dharwar, India and received her B.A. in economics from St. Xavier's College in Mumbai, and her M.A. in economics at the University of Mumbai. An actor and director, she has played an important role in Indian avant-garde theatre. She had her first brush with cinema when she produced and played the lead role in Aakriet(1981). She wrote screenplays for the features Thodasa Roomani Ho Jaaye, Kairee, Kal Ka Aadmi, Bangarwadi, Daayra and Dhyaas Parv for which she was awarded the State Award for Best Screenplay. Her first attempt at direction was the short documentary Portrait of a Visionary (‘02) which she subsequently followed up with the acclaimed and multiple award-winning fiction feature Mati Maay (A Grave-Keeper's Tale, ‘06). She will be presenting her debut feature at the screenings (Saturday) and will participate in the post-screening discussion.)
Sunday 24th August, 2008 Time: 6.30pm
Sujata (1959/138min) Dir: Bimal Roy
Sujata, regarded as one of Director Bimal Roy’s principal masterpieces, is a lyrical reflection on the caste politics plaguing the nation. Through rare simplicity, Director Roy tells the poignant tale of a lower-caste girl raised by an upper-caste family and gently examines the deep-rooted prejudices of the caste system. Even though she was raised as a daughter by the family that adopted her, they themselves insist on a certain distinction. When the girl reaches a marriageable age she has to face the weight of the past yet again as even the most modern educated families are not willing to accept her as a bride. But it is when the groom intended for her ‘sister’ falls in love with her, that she has not face the ire of not only her family but society as a whole. Featuring a memorable and now classic turn by Nutan as the girl Sujata, Director Roy’s film was nominated for the Palm d’Or at Cannes 1960 and was awarded the Certificate of Merit at the National Awards (1959).
Venue: Ashirvad, 30, St. Mark's Road cross, Op. State Bank of India
Tel: 2549 2774/ 2549 3705/ 9886213516
ADMISSION FOR FILMS FOR MEMBERS ONLY. NON-MEMBERS ARE REQUESTED TO ARRIVE 15 MINS EARLY AND REGISTER.
(Members whose membership has expired are requested to kindly renew their membership.)