Osian'sCinefan Festival at Delhi showcased its tryst with India'svintage legacy friezed upon a cinematheque tapestry let open to the hoi polloi for ten days. The discernible cineaste fervently gleaned out those nuggets that are otherwise stashed away from their reach.
Auteur par excellence, Mrinal Sen was conferred upon Lifetime Achievement Award by Osian'sCinefan. Sen is a maverick self-taught filmmaker. Bypassing mere mimetic replications of the prosaic everyday encounters, Sen has brought to the celluloid images laced with lyricism orchestrated through dazzlingly fluid and intimately dense register of his indelible stylistics in films like Bhuvan Shome (1969). Leading Indian cinema to the threshold of a new paradigmatic shift, Sen'shumanism in his Calcutta Trilogy Interview, Calcutta 71, and Padatik is allegorically charged with ideological and political fervour. At the festival, his critically acclaimed 1983 film Khandahar (The ruins) was screened. The story was a poignant melodrama with loads of maverick jabs.
Then there was a rare opportunity to watch the first Assamese cinema, Joyomoti made in 1935, which was lost in oblivion later discovered lying in a seedy garage, partly lost and damaged. The complete lone print of Joyomoti had been lost soon after the death of producer-director Jyotiprasada Agarwalla in 1951. Jyotiprasada Agarwalla in 1935 achieved a landmark in Indian cinema.
A rare feat achieved by Altaf Mazid who reconstructed tying the missing ends, edited and subtitled the footage so as to form this surviving version of the film in video format. The film tells the story of Ahom dynasty embroiled in the treacherous sedition by none other than their own courtiers.
Again, the yesteryear doyen, Kedar Nath Sharma's1950 classic Jogan turned the audience reminiscent of the mellowed years. Vijay Tendul-kar'sAakrosh stirred up audience'sfervid memories.
The film Bioscope takes a trip down the memory lane?it takes one to that realm where history, dreams and memories come together. Set in the 1920s when cinema entered the villages of Kerala, the protagonist'snew journey starts with his acquisition of a bioscope. Stunned by the early forms of cinema images, his relationship with the bioscope turns into a story of inseparable friendship. His journey begins from the inner being and moves outwards to the vastness of new regions, through the new visions of the bioscope. His ill wife travels inwards, through her dreams. In her unconscious, she hears foreign echoes and unknown sounds. The villagers welcome the new machine with innocence in it they see wonder and happiness, fear and astonishment. Some suspect that the bioscope box has ghosts of the British hidden in it. The witch-doctor who can tell the past and predict the future, sounds the death-knell for the bioscope. This laudable film clinched NETPAC Award at the ceremony.
The Prisoner is imbued with didactic tenor. Based on the ancient text of the Rig Veda, the film explores the theme of human desire and suffering, building towards a shocking conclusion on the nature of ?ultimate freedom?. Its lead actor Rajat Kapoor went on to win the best actor award under Indian competition section. A similar perception was shown in The Great Indian Butterfly. The director, Sarthak Dasgupta, an art aficionado says: ?The trauma of chasing the lucre and retaining one'ssanity is something that I have seen from very close quarters. Writing and making this film was an attempt to understand the problem and look for grounds on the other side. I looked and looked but I found no clear demarcation. The only liberating revelation however was that solutions always beautifully reside within problems.? Krishna Kanter will is based on Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya'seponymous novel. The director Raja Sen says: ?The central theme of the film is as topical as it was almost 150 years ago. It talks about greed, love and loss. Moreover, it'sa very cinematic novel.?
A Story of Red Hills grows around a revered Chhou performer, his travails and tribulations in Bengal'sPurulia region. For the audience to discover this exuberant dance form thriving in insular region of Bengal is a riveting experience.
Its director Remo was adjudged the best director amongst Indian competition section.
Some short-films were screened as well. One bore the moniker, 16mm-Memories, Movement and a Machine by K.R. Manoj, an activist of the film society movement and also a former editor of Drisyathalam. The film traces the trajectory of film society movement in Kerala and its saga with a 16mm film projector. Though it'snow a redundant technology but it served the cornerstone for the movement. The director puts it as ?a journey at two levels: a first person narrative of those who were part of the history and on the other hand are images that entered the lives of a generation of young people and changing their lives for ever??. Then there was Dream of the carpet?a magical tale, recreated from historical facts and folk myth. It is the story of the greed of a coir merchant from 14th century Travancore. Though a tale of feudal times, it inherently blends with the contemporary capitalist plight. It can easily be read as a tale of globalisation, capitalist monopoly, alienation etc. And told through pixelation, it intends to preserve its antique magical feel and let the story speak for itself.
There were also short-animated digitals like Foozball, One fine Friday and Keeda, hilarious films by directors, yet students at the National School of Design, India. The films were made using technique of stop motion and clay animation.
?To be able to provide pure duration one must sense a pure succession of images and sounds in a way in which past alters and extends into present, even as new present turns into memory. It is not feasible to achieve such interiority to filmed material. Fleeting moments are a veritable record of a passage of time that take us back to future,? opines Mani Kaul, India'scult filmmaker credited with his genre of contemporary aesthetic practice. His film Duvidha (The dilemma) bears testimony to ingenious jolts that he advocates. He further adds: ?The famous Indian realisation of the presence of rasa in a work of art is non-idiomatic, divine and unworldly, equal and parallel to what the camera and sound recorder intrinsically produce.?
Be it cin?ma-v?rit? or jabs of slapstick humour, the ten-day-long festival doled out a delectable platter that appeased and cloyed its cineastes with their cine-gluttony, ? la Osian Cinefan.