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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

dinner with the supernaturals

With cut throat competition all around us, it is extremely difficult to state with confidence what holds the attention of the viewer or the listener as the case may be. Once upon a time it was the story line that mattered – whether it was the Hindi film or the regional one or even the English movies, it was always the story supported by acting and accompanied by appropriate background music. Usually, films would be based on proven writings of well known authors like Gulshan Nanda (Kati Patang) or R. K. Narayan (Guide) – naturally, viewers went to the hall knowing what to expect. It was up to the actors to ensure that the expectations of the viewers were not shattered and that they carried back with them a reasonably good impression of the combined efforts of the team who struggled for months on end to deliver the final product.

Subsequently, with the advent of televisions, people discovered that instead of physically going to the cinema hall, it was more convenient to bring a video cassette and see the movie at leisure in the comforts of your home. Naturally, the cinema owners were not pleased. Neither were the film producers because video cassettes started being cloned left and right. Therefore, the movie makers hit upon the brilliant idea of introducing special effects in a large scale. Remember the Todd-Ao effect introduced in the movie South Pacific way back in the sixties? That was probably the beginning of experimentation which led to chart busters like Jurassic Park, Titanic, Men in Black and Star Wars. Similarly, fully animated films like Lion King, Who Killed Jack Rabbit etc.. ensured that viewers did not totally stay away from movie houses. These films proved that the attraction of the huge 70 millimeter screens remains because such films lose their charm if not viewed in a surrounding of proper acoustics.

This is, probably, one of the reasons why horror movies and movies dealing with ghosts and the supernatural have found footholds in the terribly competitive world of popular cinema. Like main stream and parallel cinema, the genre of the supernatural cinema deserves to be noticed. Here again, Psycho was possibly the path breaker followed by Exorcist. We have had half hearted attempts by Bollywood people – the latest in the series being Naina. I saw its teaser trailer in Kolkata and, except for ear splitting clash of cymbals and grotesque faces (supposed to depict fear!), I was not impressed. Of course, Urmila Matondkar, who plays the lead, is a versatile actress and hopefully she has done justice to her role. But the fact remains that anybody and everybody cannot make horror movies. They require a totally different mind set. I wonder how many Indians fit the bill!!


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