I'm a Goan woman, working in Mumbai as the founder of a studio called Totem Creative. I try to make the world happier, safer and more meaningful. I believe education, knowledge and awareness, art, writing and creating Social Impact are my means to achieve that end.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Chitrkatha 2013

28th Oct 2013

I had a wonderful time in Ahmedabad. The first day we got there, we settled in Athithi hotel. It was such a dirty looking place, but we cleaned it up and made ourselves comfortable. We used to have breakfast at this south indian restaurant called 'Udipi Palace'. It had pretty decent breakfast but it smelled so badly of cockroaches and phinyl that it got really unpleasant. Everyday we started waking up a little later, often talking in the morning or trying to convince the others that it would be a great day. I was busy trying to keep everyone positive - somehow it was upto me to satisfy everyone's wants. When I failed at that, I'd fall into the pit and pull myself out. I told myself there was something more important happening at NID than people's eating preferences or personal problems - I had come here for inspiration and I'd decided to take it under any circumstance. By day 3 everything started getting better, and that's how it had happened last year as well. There was more interaction - we spoke to a lot of people and made a few friends. We questioned their projects and learned more about animation as a holistic medium, and the strengths it holds to communicate. We saw great films from different countries, and understood how different people used animation as a medium of storytelling. Some of the films were absolutely mind blowing, and some artsy-fartsy experimental films made no sense at all.

When it got difficult to find meaning in them, I would turn to Alok and ask, "Did you get it?"
He would not shift his gaze from the screen and say, "Just give it sometime to sink it. Try to interpret it. The film maker obviously had something in mind while making this, or s/he wouldn't have taken the effort to make it in the first place.

So I would think and mull over it, and if it still didn't make sense, then I'd let my mind wander off. This amazing thing happened during the Calarts experimental shorts screening. They were so trippy and artsy that my mind drifted off to all the problems I had stored in my subconciousness, and somehow while watching these films, my mind found all the solutions that it was searching for. Solutions to my work in Nashik, at home, and all my personal issues. I found a certain clarity. I could not figure if this was the result of some seriously trippy films, or and overload of good cinema over the 4 days before. When we got out, Alok and I were silent, and we felt heavy with thoughts. It was a burden, and we let it out over dinner.

The last day there was fruitful and thought provoking panel discussion on 'What is Indian?'.
I'll write another article on this because I have so much to say regarding the matter. The panel members included Arun, Nina Sabnani, and 3 other women whose names I keep forgetting. The discussion was hosted by Prakash Moorthy, who is a very well known personality in animation. Everyone voiced their opinions on what should be considered as Indian, and whether being 'Indian' lends and identity. Nina Sabnani quoted someone, "Rather than a khichdi, India is like a thali with a variety of foods in katoris that all taste different, yet belong to the same plate." I couldn't agree more.
Vaibhav Kumaresh also voiced from the back of the audience "I need to say something because this is honestly scaring me, and I'm sure it's scaring more people in the crowd as well - " I nodded in agreement "I don't think we need to be so worried about what is Indian, because when we are born and brought up in this land, no matter where we go, our culture and upbringing will seep into our films. It's all that really matters, and whatever comes out of that will still be Indian. We need not classify that further." I think most of the people in the audience related to that.

After this we had a lovely lunch at Tomatoes. Ishan had Chicken Stir Fry in Hunan Sauce and Alok and I had Chicken Strogonauff. Dhruva had mexican pot rice with chicken, Eggs had a Russian Salad, and we finished it off with a delicious chocolate deserve of cake, icecream and hot chocolate sauce. After that we parted ways, En Eggs and I went to teen darwaza/lal darwaza to shop. I guess it was a horrible idea. It didn't cross my mind that this was the last sunday before diwali! O_O It was SO FULL OF PEOPLE! We did a little shopping, but unfortunately Eggs didn't get the fabrics she wanted to buy for her mum. There was too little time and too much crowd. We took 30 mins to find Prathamesh - he insisted we visit his home. When we finally met him we walked to his home and then to his terrace. His parents seemed very humble and sweet and gave us water and icecream. The terrace had the most gorgeous view I have seen. The yolky orange sunset, lots of flocks of birds flying overhead, terraces of neighbouring homes with colorful clothes hanging on them and the buzz of the city and the bridge over the Sabarmati river. It was all so charming and picturesque. Eggs and I did a lot of photography, and we caught up with Prathamesh on work, gaming and animation.

Finally we attended the closing ceremony and had dinner in the mess. It was a pretty nice ending. We left for the station just on time. Our auto guy was driving like a maniac, we lost count of how many PEOPLE he nearly killed!! At the station we met the whole MIT crowd. It was good to see them all! And in the train Dhruva and Anshu came to our compartment and we talked a bit and had a decent sleep after killing tens of cockroaches. That was the last of Chitrakatha '13, and it was such a sad feeling that I would be back in depressing Nashik by the same time the next day. But here I am, writing this, and I have clarity in my problems, thanks to those wonderful films and those wonderful people. Until '15!

1 comment:

Akshat Singh said...

Hmm. My thoughts about the whole experience go something like this -

The whole idea of "Indianess" or any other form of ethnocentrism or national chauvinism is now moot. The sooner we leave it behind and focus on real issues, the better.

Earlier humans used to think that human values are only a result of "culture" (and hence all "Folk Heroes" in ancient literature). Eventually, stories started appearing that had a universal appeal. For example, "How to train your dragon" is not a "Viking" story. It is a story about a person struggling to gain social acceptance and gain self actualization, and both being at odds (at least in the beginning of the story).

I noted a strong "anti west" and "pro Indian - ness", tribe like thinking being encouraged in NID which is only going to harm the quality of stories and nothing else.

Coming to the "arty movies" and their meaning, I agree that the artist must have had strong feelings. But it is still a failure as an art if the audience has to "force" themselves to make a guess (at best) as to what that feeling could have been. The whole idea that "Art is open to interpretation" is a misleading one as it undermines the notion that 1) precise communication through art is possible and 2) artists do have responsibility to do that if they plan to make relevant art.

I also think that if artists themselves "okay" the idea that both types of art - precise communicative and then the "Artsy open to interpretation I dont care whether other get the message" are treated as equal, it will be an insult to the power of art.

" If only the spectators or auditors are infected by the feelings which the author has felt, it is art.
- Leo Tolstoy