There were three interesting carry outs from the dual book launch of Shoma A. Chatterji’s Bollywood Cinema Kaleidoscope and Amitava Nag’s 16 Frames at Nandan, Kolkata. Piu Mohapatra peeps between the heads of media persons from the second row to bring you an observation.
The afternoon was like a ‘Kaleidoscope’ with more than ‘16 frames’. A dual book launch of, Bollywood Cinema Kaleidoscope, by the veteran film critic, Shoma A. Chatterji and the other, 16 Frames by Amitava Nag, ‘the new generation film critic who could proficiently connect film with the other forms of art as naturally as a river flowing its course’, as stated by Chatterji in her speech. It is an honour indeed coming from a scholar and two times National Award winner who has seen and reviewed closely the course of film making from its journey of black-and-white to chromatic.
But this is not a report! Writing reports are boring, almost as dull as those that we hand over to our students at the end of the year. This writing is more of an observation that I could see and then narrate as a viewer, ‘From the Second Row’.
The venue at Nandan 4 looked quite formal when unoccupied, with the black, sleek leather chairs, hidden white lights and the outdoor, tepid air made artificially chilled. It was still formal and cold when the chief guest, Prosenjit Chatterjee, Bengali cinema’s leading man walked in and the reporters buzzed and hugged around him. It was still cold inside. But once the evening programme started with the stars and satellites taking their respective places, warmth seeped inside the chilled room.
It was the intimacy, a familiar bond that the film fraternity had and maybe, will continue to cherish in spite of the fierce criticisms, sharp analysis and sometimes biased and often unbiased articles from their friends and counterpart, film critics and reviewers. It was evident, through their conversation, that each gained from the other and their growth was holistic, a circle, growing, thriving and gaining momentum. ‘I had her books as a guide in my college library when I was studying film at The Whistling Woods International. Today, having the opportunity to launch her book is more of an honour for me’, Ranjan Ghosh, whose words sounded quite genuine with a tint of gratitude, making the afternoon golden. So were her words of praise for Amitava’s book, which according to Shoma Chatterji, is a ‘refined, comprehensive approach towards film critiquing than her very own’. Whether it is a fact to be considered is to be left with the readers to decide. But as a viewer I was touched by the warmth and respect that these two film critics of two different generations hold for each other.
There were three takeaways for someone like me, someone sitting at the second row, peeping between the heads of the reporters and the news media to get a good glimpse of the faces at the front. There were three carry outs! The first was suggested by Prosenjit to the publishers to promote these books among the students specializing in film and associated studies. A discount on the price of the books for the students is no doubt a cheerful idea!
The second came from Sudeshna Roy, actress and filmmaker, who while holding two physical hard copies of the book mentioned that act of ‘reading’ is important than the medium of reading. So e-books and audio-visuals should be welcomed, should be embraced. Lines which accept change with open heart is a takeaway indeed! The same resonated in Amitava Nag’s words, where he believed that reviews of films in near future, with the growing popularity of online social media which provides a platform for many and all to pass opinions on any movie, will lose its very reason and sometimes gravity. Rather the way of seeing, analyzing and reflecting a movie is more crucial and that form of practice should be promoted and encouraged. A look at the future and realize the time to change is a trait indeed.
The event was quite aptly moderated by Tathagata Chowdhury, theatre actor who breathed in fresh air in his non-formal attire and one who could connect the dots without dragging the evening programme to long exaggerated introductions.
The last cheer goes unanimously to the publishers Sayani Dutta Mitra and Manan Dutta of Crossed Arrows (an imprint of Doshor Publications) for their belief in reading and promoting!
About the two books
BOLLYWOOD CINEMA KALEIDOSCOPE deals with different aspects of Bollywood cinema and its evolution through time and space such as the evolution of the cinema of sports, self-reflexive cinema vis-à- vis Kaagaz Ke Phool, the Dalit Identity, The Muslim Identity, The New Woman and essays addressed to the cinema buff who does not like to wade through heavy theory.
SIXTEEN FRAMES offers a deep insight into different aspects of cinema seen from the perspective of the author that explores unique subjects like the use of eyes within cinema, hunger as reflected in two recent films, an ode to the cigarette, the Marwaris in Satyajit Ray’s films, the colour of aesthetics and a unique exploration of subjects you may never have imagined before.
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