Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Filmi ways

Outlook has a great cover story on the change that's sweeping through Bollywood. I believe, while justifying the mostly pedestrian Bollywood output, we tend to discredit Hollywood in a manner that doesn't do justice to its quality and lineage. Going by statistics, Hollywood brings out far better movies compared to Bollywood - better in content and of course better promotion. Of course, they have got the muscle to back big gambles, but if films are meant for the truly creative, then Hollywood is where it's at. One, we suffer severely from lack of imagination. Our characters are still human (how about fish, aliens, mutants, animals, robots as main leads). Hollywood is the adept or great at most genres of film-making -thrillers, suspense, animation, teen-flicks, action, horror (Japanese do it best) - except perhaps musicals. Bollywood is the flag-bearer of song and dance. But anyway, what allows Hollywood to excel and thrive, is not just the fact, that the film-makers are more creative or more adventurous. It's because they are taught to be so.

When we talk of arts - cinema, music, painting, we tend to think that essentially it stems purely from creative instincts, that one just needs talent. You need teaching, honing of that talent. That, essentially, it is art (not science) and cannot be taught. Nothing could be wronger. The best of Hollwood has gone through school (Lucas, Spielberg, Coppola, Scorsese, Oliver Stone), learnt the skills, techniques, the intricacies of the art. Formal training in editing, cinematography, sound is a given. Yes, inherent talent is needed but it needs direction and finishing. Education always teaches you the rules, but then, your creativity allows you to break through those rules. Indian film-makers struggle with the rules. So, we fail to even come up with convincing and seamless storylines. These are basics, that have not been learnt at all. You see film-folks making the same mistakes. Our film training instiutes (bar the FTII, which itself is plagued by babudom) are a part of cottage industry, that teaches your histrionics (in the name of acting). FTII has restarted acting course just recently after some 2 decade hiatus. I don't know of any proper institutes apart from FTII that teach directing, editing, writing. So, there we have it. Fundamentally, Bollywood is made of people with insufficient or no training in their fields and whose only claim to the job is family, contacts and access to big bucks

The only way to set this right is sent these guys back to school and ensure that the new ones are cinema-literate(To be continued)
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