Dec 28, 2008

Film Studies, Studies in Deed

For God’s sake clear your perception about what Film Studies is all about. This is the high time because now this subject is going to intrude into undergraduate and graduate studies of most of the universities. The very general fallacy about Film studies is ‘it is a study of film making’ where as it hardly takes the liability of making a Film. Rather, it is a study of film genres, authors, different film movements, different ideological and philosophical beliefs, etc. and with the help of these studies; this subject will school you to read a ‘made film’.

Film is a topic on which everyone can present at least an hour long speech. No matter he is literate or not, he is of course film literate. Then why should one be wasting time on doing a course which merely teaches how to read a film? Everyone knows that. When this question arises to our mind we certainly forget the difference between ‘watching’ or enjoying a film and ‘reading’ a film. In case of reading a film you must have some previous knowledge of film theory. This answer will lead to another question which is more specific than previous, that is ‘what is the need of reading a film rather than watching or enjoying?’.

Film reflects everything in this world. It includes any damn subject around us. Film comprises history, geography, science, sociology, philosophy, politics, economics, psychology, and many more subjects. Therefore, study of film is a packaged study of all these subjects. Simultaneous reading of all these subjects and its application on practicing film reading will completely revolute thought process and kick start your innovative spirit, in whatever field you are. It may seem very hypothetical but it’s absolutely true in practice. Though, the bottom line is ‘the subject is strictly restricted to the film lovers’.

Unfortunately, many people, even film makers find it very useless subject. According to them, a film course should be only of film making. Film theory doesn’t help to make a film. Absolutely true, one must need practical knowledge to make a film. But as I have mentioned in the previous paragraph the ‘thought process’, a good film maker must have a thought process, or one must know the right way of thinking. Film Studies is very much prescribed in the making of the right way of thinking. However, will you believe any fool... who is telling: Chemical theory is not at all needed in the making of medicine, all you need is practical knowledge!!

Dec 14, 2008

Will the current financial crisis affect your personal lifestyle?

A visit to a popular mall with thousands of footfalls per day left me intrigued. None of the 12 washrooms had a toilet paper roll. I attributed this aberration to napping janitors & caretakers. But a recent report in a local daily led me to believe that disappearing toilet papers are not due to janitors & careless caretakers. It is one of the myriad ways adopted by many employers to cut costs.

Welcome to post economic tsunami washrooms!!

The economic meltdown is subtly yet surely affecting our mindset & hence our lifestyle. All of us are directly or indirectly affected by job retrenchment. If not our own selves, at least one or more of our colleagues, friends, relatives or acquaintances have lost their job or are on the chopping list. It is new age socialism where the head of the CEO is as likely to roll as that of the junior most executive. Such a scenario is causing us to crib less about our employers & bosses & we are just plain grateful to be on the payroll .Thereby, it is causing us to be more contented with our current jobs. In the wake of retrenchment by reputed employers like Lehmann Brothers, A-grade business school pass outs can no longer snigger at their less fortunate peers. It has also meant that many careers are abruptly on hold where parents have paid through their nose to enable their wards to pursue courses of their choice. Its again back to struggling & penny pinching lifestyle in many such families. So, if your parent paid an astronomical sum for that fancy degree, you will have to wait a while before you can buy them that vacation or a small car as a mark of gratitude.

The underlying cause of this crisis is over- consumption , very high standard of living & a ‘give me more’ attitude. But this crisis has led to a general tightening of the purse, hence, under consumption & a lower standard of living in the past couple of months. Gone are the days of complimentary snacks, freebies, frequent flier privileges & off-site meetings at fancy locales. People are giving desserts a miss to cut down on their restaurant bill. It is no longer’ movie & candle lit dinner’ if you are in love. You might have to give either one of the two a miss!! And if you are used to being picked up by the luxury car that your company sends, do not be surprised if you see a chartered bus coming to pick you up.

The positive aspect of this economic meltdown is mostly felt by environmentalists & green brigadiers. To cut costs, employers are cutting down on refrigeration & air conditioning, thereby reducing the carbon footprint. So, if you were in the habit of sitting back for an hour in your air conditioned workstation in office, chatting with your friends on the many social networking sites, you will have to just break that habit.

We are gravitating towards a vegetarian diet instead of high calorie non vegetarian meals. If this trend continues, it would imply a predominance of vegetation agriculture than livestock agriculture. Thereby, it will reduce our demand on soil, water & land resources. A pronounced shift towards vegetarianism, as it burns a smaller hole in your pocket, provides a faint ray of hope of reducing mortality due to ‘diseases of civilisation’ like cancer, diabetes, cardiac, etc.

Because of escalated prices of fossil fuels, we are opting for car pooling & public transportation leading to slightly less congested roads. Hopefully, now governments will pay more heed to developing non conventional sources of energy like, solar, wind, bio-fuels, geo thermal,etc.

Excess demand on the environment is also caused by overpopulation. News of couples postponing having babies, is trickling in from many European countries would.It seems that the economic crisis will enable us to achieve what many population control programmes could not. This again implies a DINK-double income no kids-lifestyle. And if you wanted a small ‘Barbie like cute girl’ for your ‘whiz kid son’ to play with, even that has to be on hold for a while.

The crisis has caused a reduced dependence on crèches & day care facilities. So, nuclear families are going back to the old joint family system where children grew up listening to tales & fables narrated by their grand parents.

Two wrongs do not make a right. And neither can one hope to go back to old value systems by making forced personal compromises ,riding on the wave of the current economic scenario. But the crisis has taught us a lesson or two about life & counting our blessings for a change.

Dec 13, 2008

The sailor

It was one click which came out just as I wished it to.It was a humid MAY DAY(not the 1st!) in Kolkata this summer.I & my parents along with my son had gone to spend a couple of hours at the Mangal Pandey Park in Barrackpore.The park is a photographer's delight-well kept grounds, towering trees, plus a view of the ghat...

I was busy capturing my son & parents in frame after frame , when all of a sudden, this man came in his small boat & tried to get ashore.As it was cloudy, the red shirt of his stood out amidst all the grey around us.And, I captured one of MY favourite memories...

Dec 9, 2008

A night to remember

The over night study tour to a dark site for the night sky observation is a very important event in our school calendar. This year the excitement for the trip was at an all time high as the astronomy club membership is a whopping 63 comprising of 11 & 12 year old & their zest is far higher than the 16 or 17 year olds who take a casual interest in most things. So, it was quite a task to manage these young & eager kids during the full 14 -hour study tour.The site was a school in the small village called Jewar , which is around 100 kms from Noida. We took 2 1/2 hours to reach the site . As we stepped down from the warm comfort of the bus, we were greeted by a sharp nip in the air. After steaming cups of piping hot Chai, we started with our observations. The resource persons of S.P.A.C.E., who conduct these clubs in various schools, were all set with their powerful reflecting telescopes. The first study was of Venus & the craters of the moon. The image of the moon was so sharp that the bright speck was even visible when your eye is a foot away from the eyepiece. The image was so beautiful that I could not prevent myself from holding my cell-cam in front of the eyepiece to take a click. That is the image you see above this text. Beautiful!After a while we were treated to a tasty veggie dinner while the RPs(resource people) went about setting up their telescopes for the next round of observations. It was 9.30 pm & a sweater & jacket seemed inadequate for the falling Mercury. The children were now being taught how to use the latitude finder & planisphere( a chart that helps you get an idea of the night sky at a particular time of the day of the month/year). The senior kids, who are well versed in the usage of these devices were being shown deep sky objects-about him we read only in the science pages of the leading newspapers. Hold your breath!! The first objects that were focussed were star clusters located millions of light years away. Next on were the Nebulae(!!!!) Orion &Crab. It was a moment when we realised how miniscule we were in the larger scheme of things. While the kids were all excited at these sightings, my co-teacher & I were in deep discussion about how insignificant & small were we in this galaxy. As if these musings were not enough, the RP announced that he was ready with THE fuzzy object on his telescope. Can u guess what he focussed ? It was the ANDROMEDA galaxy, the farthest object visible to us, situated 2.5 million light years away & containing one trillion stars. So, on that cold December night of the year 2008, we were watching andromeda galaxy, the way it looked 2.5 million light years ago!!! A humbling & spell binding experience.Meanwhile, the junior group were being taught to locate rare constellations like, Cassiopeia, Taurus, Aries, Cancer etc. Let me add, that in urban areas one can see only 30-40 stars with the naked eye. While, here, the sky was a black velvet banner with over 2000 twinkling stars!!

The chill in the air was causing shivers , after all its not everyday that you are out in the open at 1 am in the night with the mercury at 4 deg Celsius. The salvation was another round of a hot cuppa strong ginger tea. The students , meanwhile, were sketching their observations under torch light. I must mention that it was pitch dark(hence the name dark site) which made it impossible to see a person who is sitting 5 feet away. The second study session came to a close at about 2.45 am .

The students were free to take a nap or watch a documentary on the International Space Station. While some sought refuge under blankets , others watched the documentary.

Soon it was time to get up for the last & final session. This time it was the beautiful Saturn. I have no words to describe the 1 millimeter sized image of the planet along with its ring. As the students took turn to watch the most beautiful member( I would say) of the solar system, the care takers had laid out our breakfast of hot puris with mixed vegetables. It was something out of the ordinary to have one’s breakfast at 5 am in the morning, outdoors, when the temperature is 7 deg Celsius.

It had started to sink in that our date with our galaxy was over & it was time to return to the dust & smog of Dilli.

Mama Mia- is ‘ABBA’ once more!!

For all those fans of ‘ABBA’ & ‘Mery Streep, out there, here is a movie that you just cannot miss!!

Mery Streep is Donna, a single parent with a 20 something daughter Sophie(Amanda Seyfried) who is to tie the knot very soon. But Amanda is determined to find her father before her big day. But, she has a problem. After reading her mother’s private diaries, she discovers that he may be one of her three past loves. So, she invites all the three of them to her little Greek island home. And what ensues is confusion, fun, & a heady dose of dancing & laughter to the greatest hits of the & 70s band, ABBA.
It is s a movie to watch with friends & family & sing along to the foot tapping numbers!! And not to forget, the spirited show by an all star cast comprising of Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Dominic Cooper and Julie Walters.