Thursday, August 9, 2007

The last laugh

I spent the last week watching movies like never before. Blame that on the week-long Osian’s Cinefan festival in Siri Fort. Unlike my friends, I didn’t get to spend all week—sun up to sun down—flitting through audis one to four, but I did manage to spend two-and-a-half days doing just that.

Watching movies made by brilliant directors can be terribly exhausting. More so, if they’re all on death, exploitation, rape, murder, genocide, homicide or some such morbid topic. Now, don’t get me wrong. I do believe that the wrongs in the world should be highlighted. More so by the educated and creative sections of society who can actually do something for them, or inspire others to right the wrongs. But in a week-long film fest, how much of depression is one expected to take?

I know no one asked me to watch such movies. In fact, my parents were quite upset that I was spending such a huge amount of time watching movies! But I went there with the intention to learn something about film making and different cultures…and learn I did. For one I learnt this weird fact that old Japanese couples sometimes collect garbage from other people’s houses and dump them in their own. In fact, they love living in that filth. Don’t ask me why…even the director who’s movie apparently showed this aspect of the Japanese culture did not know.

But let’s go back to the umpteen number of movies on death. The reason I wanted to write about it is because I do believe that in trying to project the absolute reality of life…which is death, we probably tend to forget another important aspect of our life…laughter.

Throughout the festival I was aching to watch a comedy. In a way I did. I saw the premier of Rajat Kapoor’s Mithya starring the famous duo Ranvir & Vinay, along with a gamut of character artists. So much so, I felt that the movie was just another extension of Bheja Fry that I had seen a couple of weeks ago. The treatment was very much like that of a play, but again…even in that the character came to terms with life and everything else at the doorstep of death.

By the end of day three I felt sick. I felt as if all the joy in the world had been suck out of my life. Now, all directors can take this as a huge compliment, because their films had affected me so darn much, but seriously, a little levity…some joy…some laughter…ONE just ONE happy ending would have done. I was so down and out and desperate that I had to go and watch Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on the same day.

You know what’s funny? After these three days, I was reminded of this one film/media seminar that I had attended, where everyone was talking about depicting real life on the big screen and its importance, when this one woman at the front of the auditorium stood up and said “I go to watch a film to escape from my real life. I love the fact that no matter what everything ends on a happy note and that there is some unrealism in the film. There is depression, difficulty and sadness around me, why would I want to pay money and watch the same thing. So, I really don’t think that that kind of cinema is something to be derided.”
At that time, along with so many other ‘intellectuals’, I thought that this woman has gone crazy. I know better now. So much better that I kind of agree with her.

So, what happened to all the comedies in the world of cinema? Does everyone really think that comedies aren’t as important as realistic-tragic cinema? I hope not…for as Lizzy in P&P had once said…“I dearly love to laugh.” And I truly don't think I can handle another movie with death, exploitation, rape, murder, genocide or homicide for quite some time to come.

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