Friday, 16 January 2009


The Golden Globe glory of Slumdog Millionaire seems to be raising questions regarding audiences (divided along national, religious, geographic, gender, class and countless other lines) all over again. I have been grappling with these questions regarding the Mehta trilogy, but the recent critical acclaim accrued to the Danny Boyle film, as well as Aravind Adiga's Booker Prize-winning novel The White Tiger is literally pushing the Indian sublatern into the global spotlight. A review from The Australian refers to the gory yet life-affirming movie as 'poverty porn' and blames shallow western audiences rather than filmmakers for their tastes. It also raises the point that the Mumbai-based film has not even been released in India yet, which reminds me of the time Mehta's Water was nominated for an Oscar without having officially being screened in the country of origin. Perhaps critics who write such reviews need to consider the perfectly valid proposition that such films are specifically tailored for the western liberal (and occasionally mainstream) viewers. Maybe I'll revise that statement and say that such films are more likely to appeal to the cosmopolitan viewer, whether in India or overseas. While city-dwellers in India may be aware of the existence of slums, it is largely peripheral to their privileged lives. In other words, the film might be as shocking to a section of Indian viewers as it is to the western viewer. The purpose, then, may not be to reach the slum-dwellers themselves, but shake the rest of us out of our consumerist oblivion. Will the so-called slumdogs object to their onscreen portrayal? David Stratton called in Dickensian, and I think he might be right. The poor are not without agency in this film, so why cast them as victims?

What's in a Voice?

I have to have one for my film as well as my dissertation, preferably the same for both. But, what is a 'voice', leave alone 'my voice'? Also, why is it important?
Maybe it is something akin to a personal style (both aesthetic and political). Perhaps, instead of thinking about all my influences separately, what I need is to think of them holistically. It is how I combine these threads and produce a pattern that transcends the individual colours and textures that will determine the nature of my voice.
Theoretically speaking, I need to stop swimming in the theory. Do I know enough to last once I'm out of the water? Probably, but the water is not going to disappear. It is always there to be used as an aid.
As to the importance of the voice, I know intuitively that it can make or break a movie or a book. This is not to say that texts should be read as per the intentions of the auteur, but more so that the voice will come through more strongly if it is a subtle yet all-encompassing presence.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

e-motion = Emotion?

I was reading about humans in motion, and then I began to wonder if it was possible to conceptualise the post-globalisation flows of people as electronic movements. Why electronic? Because they are occurring at unprecedented levels, more rapid and widespread than at any other time in the course of human history. These flows are also greatly aided by advances in modern technology, be it means of transporting people physically from one place to another or imaginative conduits like the internet and satellite television. Hence the coinage of e-motion.

However, the question now arises - can e-motion encompass the brea(d)th of emotion that accompany this motion? This probably brings us to the age-old conflict between empirical facts and qualitative data, but need this relationship be divisive? I would like to think that science and art can mutually benefit from each other's company, be perfect complements. e-motion may not be equivalent to emotion, but it can certainly gain from the hues and textures of the latter concept. Similarly, emotion may appear devoid of rationale, and thereby gain from e-motion's exactitude.