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आत्महंता की डायरी और बेकशिंस्कि का घर: मग्दालेना जेबाउकोव्स्का

बीसवीं-इक्कीसवीं सदी के विश्वस्तरीय, चर्चित, पोलिश चित्रकार ज़्जिसुअव बेकशिंस्कि का जीवन उनकी कृतियों की तरह ही सर्रियलिस्ट-स्पर्श लिए हुए अविश्वसनीय जान पड़ता है. उन्नीस सौ अंठानवे में उनकी पत्नी की मृत्यु की होती है. उन्नीस सौ निन्यानवे के क्रिसमस की पूर्वसंध्या के अवसर पर उनका इकलौता पुत्र तोमष, जो कि बहुत ही लोकप्रिय रेडियो उद्घोषक, संगीत-पत्रकार और अनुवादक था, आत्महत्या कर लेता है. सत्रह बार चाक़ू से गोदा गया बेक्शिन्स्कि का मृत शरीर इक्कीस फ़रवरी, दो हजार पाँच को उनके ही फ्लैट में पाया जाता है. यह धत् कर्म उनके ही केयरटेकर के नाबालिग पुत्र द्वारा किया गया था. मग्दालेना जेबाउकोव्स्का ने अपनी पुस्तक बेक्शिन्स्कि: एक दोहरी तस्वीर‘ (The Beksinskis: Double Portrait[i]) में बखूबी इन दृश्यों को जगह दी है. पोलिश इंडोलॉजिस्ट तत्याना षुर्लेई ने इसी किताब के शुरूआती हिस्से को यहाँ अनुदित की है.

dsc03496

बेकशिंस्कि के परिवार के चित्र

By मग्दालेना जेबाउकोव्स्का 

आत्महंता की डायरी और बेकशिंस्कि का घर

एक चिट्ठी 

प्रिय एवा! एक बुरी खबर है। तोमेक[ii] मर गया। क्रिसमस की पूर्व संध्या पर उसने आत्महत्या कर ली और क्रिसमस के दोपहर, करीब तीन बजे मुझे उसकी लाश मिली। मैं पहले ही तुमको इस संबंध में लिख चुका हूँ कि अगस्त या इससे पहले से ही रेड अलर्ट था, और अब इस तरह इसकी समाप्ति हुयी।

अभियोजन पक्ष के कार्यालय के समक्ष जाने से पहले ही मैंने सारे भौतिक सबूतों को छुपा दिया है। क्योंकि, कागज़ के एक टुकड़े पर तोमेक ने लिखा कि मेरे लिए कंप्यूटर में एक चिट्ठी और डिक्टाफोन में एक मैसेज है।  डॉक्टर के आने से पहले ही मैंने कॉपी को सुरक्षित रख कंप्यूटर से चिट्ठी को हटाया, फिर कागज़ के टुकड़े और डिक्टाफोन को जेब में छुपाया। क्योंकि, मुझे डर था कि पुलिस सब कुछ अपने कब्जे में ले लेगा और बाद में अलग-अलग अंजान लोग इसे सुनेंगे, पढ़ेंगे और इसके बारे में पीएचडी लिखेंगे। मुझे लगता है कि मैंने जो किया अच्छा किया। हालांकि, पुलिस और अभियोजन पक्ष वाली औरत यह समझ नहीं सकती थी कि उसने क्यों कोई चिट्ठी नहीं छोड़ा। उन लोगों के बीच सब से बड़ा शक इसी एक बात से पैदा हुआ।

वास्तव में, इस चिट्ठी से मुझे अधिक वस्तुगत जानकारी मिली। जैसे कि, किसको क्या देना चाहिए और कौन-से काम पुरे करने हैं। मैं यह चिट्ठी उनको दिखा सकता था, लेकिन इसे पढ़ने के लिए मेरे पास समय नहीं था। और, टेप इतना व्यक्तिगत था कि इसे सिर्फ मैंने सुना, शायद एक और बार सुनकर इसको नष्ट करूंगा, जैसी उसकी इच्छा थी। उसकी यह भी प्रार्थना थी कि उसकी टेप वाली डायरी को (सुनने या न सुनने के बाद), जिसमें बहुत सारे टेप हैं, भी नष्ट करूँ।

जोशा की मौत के बाद, पहली बार मुझे एक अजीब-सी खुशी का अहसास हुआ कि यह सब होने के पहले ही वह मर गई, क्योंकि यह उसके लिए असहनीय होता। मैं ज़्यादा सहनशील हूँ, वैसे भी अंत में यहाँ किसी का रहना जरुरी है।

सिर्फ़ मुझे मालूम था कि तोमेक के लिए जीवन मुश्किल था। अहंवादी और अहंकारी होने के बावजूद, कोई अपनी नियति खुद नहीं चुनता। लेकिन, मुझे लगता है कि यह जो कुछ भी हुआ, अच्छा हुआ।

टेप पर दर्ज उसका अंतिम संदेश यही था कि जिस दुनिया में उसको जीना पड़ता है इससे वह कितना निराश है। उसे हमेशा एक अलग दुनिया चाहिए थी, जहां के नियम सीधे होते हैं, दोस्ती हमेशा सही होती है या ऐसा कुछ…।

इस मैसेज का अंत लगभग इस तरह था, “मैं जानता हूँ कि मेरी दुनिया कल्पना की दुनिया है, लेकिन उन इकतालीस सालों में मैं भी शायद एक कल्पना था। मैं कल्पना की दुनिया में जा रहा हूँ, क्योंकि मैं सिर्फ़ वहाँ ही खुश रह सकता हूँ। हाथ जोड़कर तुमसे विनती करता हूँ कि मुझे जगाना मत।”

उसने याकूब की सीढ़ी वाला टीशर्ट पहना था, और मुझे नहीं मालूम कि इसका कोई प्रतीकात्मक अर्थ था या नहीं!

उसे डर था कि नींद की गोलियां जब तक उसे मारेगी, उससे पहले मैं आ जाऊंगा! इसलिए, उसने टेप के संदेश में कहा कि तेईस दिसम्बर से उसने कुछ नहीं खाया है ताकि गोलियां जल्दी से अपना काम करें, और गोलियों के डिब्बे को बाहर के कूड़ेदान में फेंका ताकि डॉक्टर को पता न चल सके  कि उसने क्या खाया है!

वह तेईस तारीख की शाम को ही यह करना चाहता था। लेकिन, उसे याद आया कि वह हर शुक्रवार को घर आकर अखबार में छपे टीवी-कार्यक्रम के विवरणों में से पसंदीदा फिल्मों को चिन्हित करता है। ताकि, बाद में उसे देख सके और इसके लिए प्रसारण के समय उन्हें रिकॉर्ड करना चाहिए। वह जानता था कि इस दिन अगर वह नहीं आएगा तो मैं परेशान होकर चेक करूंगा कि क्या हुआ। इसलिए चौबीस दिसम्बर को दोपहर दो बजे मेरे पास आ गया और ऐसी फिल्मों को मार्क किया जो सिर्फ उसके लिए दिलचस्प हो सकती थीं, क्योंकि मुझे वेस्टर्न पसंद नहीं हैं। यह सब कुछ मुझे दिलासा देने के लिए था ताकि मैं कुछ अनुमान न करने लगूँ, और सच में उसका यह प्रयास सफल हुआ।

गोलियाँ खाने के बाद रिकॉर्ड हुए टेप से पता चला कि उसने गोलियों को चौबीस तारीख को दोपहर के तीन बजकर पाँच मिनट पर खाया। मैं चौबीस घंटे बाद वहाँ पहुँचा। वहाँ पहुँचने से पहले मैं कुछ परेशान था क्योंकि उसकी अच्छी दोस्त, अनया ओर्तोदोक्स[iii] ने फोन की और बतायी कि जब वह मेरे घर से अपने घर वापस गया था तभी अनया ने तोमेक से बात की थी और उसे लगा कि तोमेक की तबियत ठीक नहीं है। इसलिए वह बोली कि मैं उसके पास जाऊँ या उसको अपने यहाँ बुलाऊँ।

चूँकि, तोमेक ने मुझसे कहा था कि बीमार होने की वजह से वह दो दिनों के लिए फोन को स्विच ऑफ करेगा, ताकि उसकी तबीयत में सुधार हो। शुरू में मुझे लगा कि सच में उसने यह किया। अनया से बातचीत करने के बाद मैंने तोमेक को फोन किया लेकिन सिर्फ ऑटोमेटिक और रिकॉर्ड स्वर ही सुनाई देते थे, उसका मोबाइल फोन बंद था। मैं वहाँ गया और बार-बार दरवाजे की घंटी बजाता रहा। अब मुझे याद नहीं है, लेकिन यह शायद दोपहर चार बजकर पचास मिनट या पाँच बजकर दस मिनट था। उसने दरवाजा नहीं खोला और मेरे पास चाभी नहीं थी (अगले दिन मुझे पता चला कि उसने मेरे घर में अपनी चाभियों को दिनुव[iv] से खरीदी गयी एक चीनी मिट्टी के गमले में रखा है, अन्य दूसरी चीजों के नीचे) तो मैंने सोचा कि उसने नींद की गोली खाकर और कानों में इअरफ़ोन लगा सो रहा है। दरवाजे तोड़ना मैंने ज़रूरी नहीं समझा। दूसरे दिन मुझे उसकी चाभियाँ मिली और जब मैं तोमेक के पास पहुंचा तो वह बहुत समय से मरा हुआ था। हाँ, ऐसा ही था। ठीक है, अगर तुमको कुछ और जानना चाहिए तो लिखो! सभी को नमस्कार।

ज़्जिसुअव।

वारसा: रविवार, 26 दिसम्बर, 1999, दोपहर 4:07।

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घर

हर किसी को यह घर धोखा देता था, जो उसे पूरी तरह जानने और समझने की कोशिश करता था। उसने किसी को भी घर की पूरी तस्वीर उतारने की अनुमति नहीं दी। सिर्फ अहाते की ओर से अंदर प्रवेश पाने वाली टूटी हुई सीढ़ियों की, या बगीचे की ओर से झाड़ियों के बीच से ऊँचे उठे हुए सड़े बरामदे की, या एक दीवार पर लकड़ी के हिले हुए रेलिंग की और उपेक्षित अहाते की ही, जहाँ ऊँची छत वाला एक छोटा कुआँ था, तस्वीर खींचना संभव था। एसेनबह की दवाई की दुकान के पीछे छुपा यह घर सड़क से दिखाई नहीं देता था और पेड़ों के पीछे होने के कारण पुओव्येत्स्कि नदी की ओर से भी दिखाई नहीं देता था। शुरू-शुरू में यह घर बॉयलर के वर्कशॉप होने के रहस्य की रक्षा करता था।

हेनरिक वनिएक, ज़्जिसुअव बेकशिंस्कि का दोस्त, को यकीन है कि यह घर, बीच में एक छोटे अहाते के साथ, एक वर्ग की संकल्पना पर आधृत है; जिसमें बाहर से कोई सीधा प्रवेश-द्वार नहीं था। इसे देखकर उसे एन्फ़िलैड की याद आती है जिसमें एक कमरे से दूसरे कमरे तक जाने का रास्ता घुमावदार होता है।

लेकिन यह असम्भव है क्योंकि लकड़ी का यह घर, जिसके छत धातु के प्लेटों से बने थे, अन्य इमारतों के बगल में U आकार में खड़ा था। जो, सामने या अन्दर से एक मंजिली हवेली जैसा था और ऊपर-ऊपर से देखने पर किसी ग्रामीण घर जैसा आभासित होता था।

अतिथियों को यह घर अव्यवस्थित लगता था। मेहमान अंधेरे गलियारे में पहुँचते ही जगह और समय के बारे में भूल जाते थे। लोग स्टूडियो से बाथरूम जाना चाहते थे तो बरामदे में पहुँचते थे। बच्चे के कमरे में जाना चाहते थे और ज़ोफ़िया के कमरे में पहुँच जाते थे। रसोईघर से कोठार जाने या तोमष के कमरे से स्तनिसुआवा दादी के कमरे जाने की प्रक्रिया अक्सर घर के सभी सदस्यों को परेशान करती थी। स्टूडियो के दरवाजे को ढूँढने की प्रक्रिया में अचानक एक आलमारी सामने आ जाती थी, जिसमें प्लास्टर की ढेर सारी खोपड़ियाँ होती थीं।

बाथरूम जाने के रास्ते को ज़्जिसुअव ने छोटी-छोटी बल्बों से सजाया था, रात के समय यह सजावट मदद करने की बजाय परेशानी का सबब बन जाती थी। एक बार बेकशिंस्कि ने वनिएक को बताया कि गलियारे में लगे बल्ब उसके सपनों के जटिल मामले का एक हिस्सा है।

घर के लिए नवीनीकरण कोई मतलब नहीं रखता था, जैसे, दीवारों को अंदर और बाहर से रंगना, बरामदे के टूटे हुए रेलिंग को ठीक करना। घर को इसकी परवाह नहीं थी कि लिविंग रूम को स्टूडियो, और बेडरूम को तोड़कर दो नए कमरे बना दिए गए थे, दूर के कमरों में किरायेदार रहते थे। धीरे-धीरे झड़ते प्लास्टर के कारण दीवारें अपनी नंगी होती लकड़ियों को गोचर करती हुयीं घर की अगोचरता को लगभग नष्ट कर रही थीं।

सनोक शहर के इसी घर में बेकशिंस्कि परिवार की पाँच पीढ़ियाँ रहती थीं। सिर्फ सड़क के नाम अलग-अलग थे। गलिसिया (ऑस्ट्रियन-हंगरियन कब्जे के समय) के ज़माने में  सड़क का नाम ‘ल्वोव्सका’ था, दूसरे गणतन्त्र में ‘यागिएलोनियन’ हो गया, इसी तरह जर्मनी के कब्जे के समय इसका नाम ‘एडोल्फ हिटलर मार्ग’ और साम्यवादी ज़माने में ‘श्वियेरचेव्स्कि[v] मार्ग’।

बेकशिंस्कि परिवार का घर अब नहीं है। बीसवीं शताब्दी के सत्तर के दशक के अंत में उसे नष्ट कर दिया गया।

बेकशिंस्कि परिवार भी अब नहीं है। परिवार के अंतिम सदस्य ज़्जिसुअव की 2005 में हत्या कर दी गयी।

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Tatiana Szurlej

अनुवादक तत्याना षुर्लेई ,  एक  Indologist और फिल्म-आलोचक हैं। हंस, पाखी, पहल, अकार आदि हिंदी-पत्रिकाओं के लिए लिखती रही हैं। पोलैंड के शहर क्राकोव स्थित Jagiellonian University से  ‘The Courtesan Figure in Indian Popular Cinema : Tradition, Stereotype, Manipulation’ विषय पर पीएचडी की हैं। इनसे  tatiana.szurlej@gmail.com पर संपर्क संभव है.

 

[i] Magdalena Grzebałkowska, Beksińscy. Portret podwójny, Wydawnictwo Znak, Kraków 2014

[ii] पोलिश भाषा में लोगों के मूल नाम के अलग-अलग प्रकार हो सकते हैं जिनका इस्तेमाल परिवार या दोस्तों से किया जाता है। इसलिए मूल नाम तोमष (Tomasz) से तोमेक (Tomek) या तोमेचेक (Tomeczek) के प्रकार होते हैं, ज़ोफ़िया (Zofia) से ज़ोशा (Zosia), ज़्जिसउअव (Zdzisław) से ज़्जिसेक (Zdzisek), आदि।

[iii] अनया ओर्तोदोक्स (Anja Orthodox) क्लोस्तेर्केलर (Closterkeller) नाम के पोलिश बैंड की गायिका है।

[iv] दिनुव (Dynów) दक्षिण-पूर्व पोलैंड का छोटा शहर है।

[v] जनरल करोल श्वियेरचेव्स्कि (Karol Świerczewski) रेड आर्मी और पोलिश आर्मी का सैनिक, कम्युनिस्ट कार्यकर्ता।

Something deeply disturbing about Bob Dylan: Sandip K Luis

After the announcement of noble literature award to Bob Dylan in 2016, there has been a hue and cry among the intelligentsia both in praise and criticism of it. It is being argued by the ‘for Dylan’ group that the noble literature award to Dylan symbolizes the ‘return of sixties’, while its critic held the point that it is being ‘romantic’ by those who unconsciously trying to bring sixties in to the mainstream. However, it should be noted that Dylan became famous for his participation and songs in civil rights and anti war  movements in America.

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan

Noble laureate Dylan and Return of Sixties?  

By Sandip K Luis

Yes, there is something deeply disturbing about Bob Dylan’s bagging of the literature-Nobel, that too for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. I hardly know anything about “THE great American song tradition”, but I am pretty sure that such nationalistic justifications – let alone mere claim of ‘new expressions WITHIN’ – cannot be the central concerns here (if that is the case then I expect the same in judging scientific contributions as well).

The radical intellectuals everywhere are more than happy because Dylan is not simply anyone who just fought for civil rights and the peace of humanity, but the very icon, perhaps ‘the icon’, of that golden era of youth counterculture and agitations called “The Sixties”. Yes, I am also very much for civil rights and the global peace, but wait dear; we are not discussing the Peace-Nobel here, right? That will amount to an insult of comparing Dylan with Obama.

If it is for the ‘literary’ contributions of Dylan, that too by surpassing the more identifiable literary personalities like Murakami or Ngugi Thiongo (well, “Times they are a-changin”), I want to know what is really ‘literary’ in him. To admit the truth, I have hardly bothered to listen to Dylan, finding his lyrics, along with the music, too cheesy optimistic and slick minded. But when it is all about the Sixties its “flower-power”, what else you expect?

If one is seriously concerned about the real literal quality of the Sixties-music, then there is only one option left; Dylan’s one and only rival, LEONARD COHEN. But Cohen, with the dim-lit interior of his prayer-like-songs scripted through years of labour, uttered in haunting whispers and sardonic sniggers, is not ‘political’ or ‘popular’ like that of his friendly-adversary Dylan (this is even true in the case of Cohen’s seemingly ‘political’, but not very ‘popular’, songs like ‘The Partisan’ or ‘Democracy’). To religiously enter his shadowy world and to bear the weight of his words, you have to undo yourself like him.

But knowing very well that nothing can satisfy this nihilistic soul, who hauntingly said that ‘the crumbs of love you offer me are the crumbs I left behind’ (‘Avalanche’), my point is not at all that the Nobel should have given to Cohen – after all, c’mon, it just the Nobel. Rather it is a Cohenian view, with all its cynicism and contempt, on Dylan’s recognition, if not his literary or musical merits. The point is simple. Everywhere people are excited about “the Return of the Sixites” in art, culture and politics (justifications vary from the ‘Kiss of Love’ wave in India to the ‘Spring Revolutions’ in the Middle East). But by giving the Nobel to ‘The Icon of the Sixites’; one thing is assured for sure. The Sixties can no longer be a subculture to worth its name, not simply because it is now revered at par with Obama’s contributions to the global peace, but more because of the following reason. The integration of the Sixties to the mainstream and its equation with the American culture are now perfectly complete with Dylan’s Nobel.

But nihilism is nothing but the hope unalloyed. Perhaps this might also be an occasion to hope and work for a ‘Sixties’ we never had; a ‘Sixties with Leonard Cohen’. Hence his song: “Now the wheels of heaven stop / you feel the devil’s riding crop / Get ready for the future: it is MURDER…” (‘The Future’ by L. Cohen)

Sandip K. Luis is pursuing his PhD from SAA, JNU, New Delhi

Satyajit Ray Interviews Andrzej Wajda: A Tribute to Wajda

During the Film Festival in Delhi (1965), we (Film Fare) invited Satyajit Ray to interview Polish Director Andrej Wajda. Although Ray was the interviewer, Wazda occasionally came up with the question as the conversation veered round to technique. The interview was, therefore, an exchange of ideas between two great directors. Well-known Polish critic B. Michalech acted as interpreter.

Satyajit Ray With Wajda

Satyajit Ray Interviews Andrzej Wajda

 

Ray- what are you working on now, Mr. Wajda?

Wajda- Going slow actually. I’m engaged at the moment in making a historical film. Not quite my cup of tea, though.

Ray- Why, then are you making it?

Wajda- Well, it’s based on a very popular book, well known in Poland, very dear to poles. After three years of waiting, doing nothing, I feel the need to be in touch with my audience again.

Ray- Oh yes, I understand that. Was “Generation” your first film?

Wajda- My first independent film. I mean, made entirely by me: my very first feature film.

Ray- I saw it in Venice, out of competition. Wonderful, I thought.

Wajda- Now, Mr. Ray, I have a question for you.

Ray- Out with it.

Wajda- You being the… well, the best known and the most brilliant director of Indian films, do you think it is possible, I mean in the future, taking a long perspective, to make films independently, films like the ones you made without the support, the strong support of some national organisation like State.

Ray- Well, I make my films without the support of any national organisation. There is no question of such support the way I make films. They are financed by private producers and distributors. As for my first film “Pather Panchali,” of course, I started with my own money, and then because funds run out, we had shelved it and actually thought of giving it up. And then somebody who had some influence with Government, persuaded them to take it up and they took it up. I mean the West Bengal Government.

Wajda- My question, I’m afraid, is more delicate. You see, for us you are the only man who is practising a sort of an excellent national cinema, truly national, and therefore I put it to you: Do you think that the way you are doing it this sort of cinema can develop in India- not only a cinema which Indian in name but which is practically a sort of national cinema?

Ray- Well, theoretically it is possible. I mean just the way I make films it is possible for another person to make films. You need first of all a man with the same sort of urge and with a certain degree of talent, also a certain degree of tenacity.

Wajda- Obstinacy…

Ray- Obstinacy, yes. Let’s put it this way. There is no bar, of course, if his films succeed. But supposing he makes one film, and if that is a failure at the box office- it may be an artistic success- and if he keeps on making failure financially, then it is difficult for him to make any headway, because after all, he depends on the producers, his backers, his distributors.

Wajda- But do you think there are a group of men in India, in any centre, who try to make the sort of films you have been making?

Ray- Well, I can speak about my own home state, Bengal. There are a number of young directors who engaged after “Pather Panchali”. Because I was new director and my films was a success, some distributors who had not backed young people, new people, before, now began backing them, and some of them have been reasonably successful. Oh, yes, there is such a young group in Bengal. Some haven’t succeeded as well as others, so they have to wait long for another contract. But there is backing for at least some people. There isn’t a big a big movement yet, not really, but there are people who are wanting to back them. It’s a healthy sign.

Wajda- Yes, but is the state itself interested in encouraging this sort of good and important- I mean socially and artistically important-productions? Does the state have an interest in encouraging such productions?

Ray- The state itself is not in a position to directly encourage them. Now we have this President’s Award in India which is an all India thing. Awards are supposed to be given to significant films. But of course they are chosen by committee all of whose members may not be experts, you see. Well, Government also gives a cash prize and a medal, and if the film gets a prize, it can get better distribution if it can be revived. On the strength of the prize, it can have a fresh start, you know.

Also there was some talk of forming a financial corporation which would be backing certain scripts which were thought suitable, but it hasn’t so far worked…but it’s in the air. It’s being considered. May I put a question to you? How many films have you made so far-five, six?

Wajda- Ten.

Ray- Let’s see… “Generation,” “Kanal,” “Ashes and Dimonds,” “Lotna,” “Samson”…

Wajda- “Sorcerers”… another made in Siberia- “Lady Macbeth of Minsk.” Then, of course, a sketch for a French film…

Ray- Oh yes, yes….

Wajda- “Lost on the Frontiers” which was a very nice sketch but I am sorry now that this subject has been put into a new film, because it is the subject of an old film. And then the film I am making now is in two parts… I mean from the production point of view it is even more than two films.

Ray- Only one film was in colour….or were there others?

Wajda- Only one… “Lotna.”

Ray- Do you like working in colour?

Wajda- It is certainly very interesting but one is handicapped by poor quality of laboratories in Poland and then not only the labs, but also the quality of the colours themselves. One can never foresee if it will work or not. So I am a little afraid of colour at this stage. Maybe because I am an artist, I am more sensitive to colour. For normal colour production, we may be all right. But my requirements are not so easily satisfied.

Ray- Well, it is more or less the same with me. I have made one colour film. Of course this was special because it was all outdoors, all location. But I was worried because processing facilities were not adequate in India and it had all to be processed not in Calcutta but in Bombay. But I was quite surprised with the results which wouldn’t have been as good had we shot in studio. We don’t have the lights, etc. But outdoors was a different matter. And I had this special kind of a story- I wrote the story specially for the films.

Wajda- Reverting to colour. We have another difficulty. In our climate the differences in colour during the day are enormous, unlike India where you have approximately the same intensity of light the whole day.

Ray- Now in Delhi? (Laughter)

Wajda- Yes. We have in Poland, during the day, ten or even twenty colour changes.

Meeting Contingencies

Ray- Well! I will tell you how we shot the film in Darjeeling, way up in the hills. I knew there would be differences in colour because there would be clouds, there would be mist, there would be sun, there would be morning and evening. The shooting had to meet all contingencies. It was a two-hour-long story, two hours continuous, unbroken time you see…I had scenes, mist scenes and cloudy scenes and sunny and shadowy scenes. We’d be shooting a sunny scene-and then the mist would come and we would all run with the camera and take another part of another scene. That’s how it was shot.

In a way it was easy because there was no chance of costume involved. Everything happened within the radius of, say, one square  mile. As soon as we felt there were clouds coming up, we changed, folded up there, and went over the next spot for that part of the scene. And so on.

Wajda- Weather back home is so capricious. A solution would be to use several cameras simultaneously as some time, Kurosawa does in black and white. Yes, because the difference between one take and another can be sometimes quite terrible. It’ is necessary to eliminate then afterwards. Eight or ten cameras very well placed, in a carefully thought out way, could well be the solution for a good colour film.

Ray- Tell me, Mr. Wajda, do you always make films of your own choice? I mean your own subject, your own cast and everything. You have complete freedom, I suppose?

Wajda- The initiative is mine. But after the script has been chosen and accepted by me, the last word is a committee’s which has to approve of it. In a way, I have complete freedom, although someone else has the last word. This is understandable because the state being the producer has at one stage to interfere and to say yes or no. But once production starts, I am complete master. There is no interference. I may even change a lot of things, departing from the original script. Ray- Can you really?

Wajda- Yes. From the script, from the approved script, I can change a sequence here, an entire scene there…

Ray- And they see the finished film?

Wajda- The committee does, yes. But of course when the film is finished the situation is much better because the money has been expended (laughter). This is more serious, so practically nobody interferes then.

 Ray- Have you ever had to completely abandon an idea because it wasn’t approved?

Wajda- Yes, some of them. For the ten films I have made in my career. I had 35 scripts. In a way I suppose I have more experience in making scripts (laughter) than of actually making films. But not all of them, of course, have been abandoned because the committee didn’t approve of them. Some I abandoned myself. Unfortunately in Poland we do not have professional script-writers and sometimes one comes across a very good idea which cannot be well expressed in a script.

Ray- Yes.

Wajda- …And therefore I do the scripting myself, though I am not always satisfied with my own work. Sometimes is happens that the script is not bad, the idea is good, but still there is a lack of good actors for some particular characters. Here again we are handicapped because we do not have good professional film actors, only theatre actors playing in films. And always the choice is limited and then everything depends on the goodwill of an actor or of a theatre. In Warsaw, for instance, there are 20 dramatic theatres. And Warsaw is not a very big town, about a million of population.

Ray- How many takes do you shoot normally? I often have to do with just one. It’s a question of raw stock-which is rationed here.

Wajda- We try to adopt the same method. Of course, one has to have a certain idea of the shape the film is going to take. But there is a certain pleasure in shooting much more than the final requirements. The pleasure of making a film is repeated thrice-firstly, when you are writing the script; secondly, when you are editing it.

Ray- Yes. Even if you shooting with a clear cut idea in your mind, at the cutting stage there are always small things you can do.

Wajda- Right.

Ray- It is not rigid, never rigid, particularly in dialogue scenes.

Wajda- I agree.

Ray- When you are cutting back and forth you can do a lot and you can control and modify the acting.

Wajda- Yes.

Ray- So there is still a lot left, but again here in Bengal we have to be very disciplined because we can’t be spending too much. That would be disastrous. Ours is a small market.

Wajda- But you have never used some popular stars of India?

Ray- I have not used the biggest stars, but one of them whom I introduced for the first times is now a very big star, but he is still making films for me. Another I introduced has now gone to Bombay; she too is now a big star. It’s like you see. As soon as they begin acquiring mannerism, I am a little afraid of using them.

Wajda- Now may I ask you about rehearsals? I have a double technique. For young inexperienced actors, I usually do not rehearse very much because here the only thing which matters is a certain —

Ray- A certain freshness, exactly…

Wajda- But for experienced actors, rehearsals are good. For the young actor who lacks the technique it is very difficult to get a good performance during rehearsal and to continue it when shooting.

Rehearsing Without Props

Ray- Do you find, as I do sometimes, that it is a difficult to rehearse a film scene as a stage scene in a drawing room…you know, I find that unless I am surrounded with the right props on the set I can’t rehears, I get no inspiration.

Wajda- This sort of rehearsal, if you call it rehearsal, with the actors is very useful in the beginning. More in the nature of a free discussion with the actors.

Ray- Yes.

Wajda- Just to reconstruct some characters, indicate the general line they are following. But then, of course I feel it is not useful, it is not effective, except maybe for a film which is entirely based on dialogue, which is quite a different thing.

Ray- Yes, particularly if you are planning fairly long takes where the actors have sustain the scene, it can be quite a problem.

Wajda- Yes, but so long as the actors are not in costume and in the place where the shooting is going to be done, they are for the director a little dead, a little…(Laughter).

Ray- Exactly… It’s the same with me. That’s why I put the question.

Wajda- You see, there is a very natural interaction of all the elements on the set.

Ray- Exactly. Do you agree with, for instance, Antonioni, when he says that an actor is nothing but a puppet in the director’s hands? That the actor will have to do exactly as he says, he shouldn’t be given any initiative of his own?

Wajda- I am sharply against it.

Ray- Ah, yes. You know of course that Antonioni said this…

Wajda- Yes, yes, of course…

Ray- I think Antonioni lies when he says that.

Wajda (laughing)Maybe Antonioni thinks he can influence actors because his principal actress is his wife and therefore he has a very strong influence on her. If one were to make a film in this way one would be tapping only half the possibilities of a good performance. The actor’s own interpretation of the character gives fullness to his performance. I suppose to call actors puppets is a reaction against the star system. Films are made to suit stars. Of course, sometimes it works as in the cases of Paul Newman and Marlon Brando. All the films they have made are made round them, and still it works.

Ray- Yes it’s like a concerto.

Wajda- But I myself am interested in making this sort of film.

Ray- Because the artists get an excessive prominence, it is not part of general pattern. They stick out, you see….

Published in Film Fare, 1965

 

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