Archive for the tag “kamal swaroop”

Om-Dar- Ba-Dar: Excerpts Of Original Script

८०९० के दशक में सिनेमा की मुख्या धारा और सामानांतर सिनेमा से अलग भी एक धारा का एक अपना रसूख़ थायह अलग बात है कि तब इसका बोलबाला अकादमिक दायरों में  ही ज्यादा था। मणि कौलकुमार साहनी के साथसाथ कमल स्वरुप इस धारा के प्रतिनिधि फ़िल्मकार थे।  वैकल्पिक और सामाजिकसंचार साधनों और डिजिटल के इस जमाने में ये निर्देशक फिर से प्रासंगिक हो उठे हैं। संघर्षशील युवाओं के बीच गजब की लोकप्रियता हासिल करने वाले कमल  स्वरूप की  कल्ट फिल्म  ओम दर बदर इधर फिर से जी उठी हैं। अभी हाल ही में एनएफडीसी  ने  इसे डिजिटली  संरक्षित कर एक  एक बड़ा काम किया है। यह कदम एक महान फिल्म को जीवनदान देने जैसा है।  डिजिटली संरक्षित होते ही इसने अपने कमाल दिखाने शुरू कर दिये हैं। पीवीआर ने  इसे  17 जनवरी, 2014 से  पूरे देश में  प्रदर्शित करने  का फैसला किया है।  

आज व्यावसायीक और तथाकथिक सामानांतर फिल्मों का भेद जब अपनी समाप्ति के कगार पर पहुँच चुका हैतब कमल स्वरूप और इनकी कल्ट फिल्म  ओम दर बदर  की विगत महत्ता और योगदान पुनर्समीक्षा की मांग करता है।  इसी कड़ी में यहाँ  ‘ओम दर बदर ‘ की मूल पटकथा के कुछ हिस्से आपसे साझा किया जा रहा है। 

ओम दर बदर पोस्टर

ओम दर बदर पोस्टर

सीन नं. 28: इन्टीरियर/एक्सटीरियर:

                बाबूजी का ग़रीब घर/गली, सुबह  बारिश की पहली हवा  बाबूजी, गायत्री,   छोटा ओम।

                {आंगन में गायत्री पंखों के सामने बैठकर बाल सुखा रही थी। -फिर गंघी करने लगी। बाल झटकी – आइने के सामने खड़ी होकर सफेद बाल ढूंढने लगी। तोड़कर अंगुली में लपेटा – आंगन में फेंका तो धूप आई – जाकर धूप में खड़ी हुई।}

                {अपने कमरे में बाबूजी खाट पर अख़बार ओढ़े सो रहे थे। दीवार पर एक छिपकली थी।}

गायत्री: ओम ! स्कूल कब जायेगा?

                {ओम अंदर कमरे में बैठा भूगोल के नक्शे में बनी नदी में रंग भर रहा था।

ओम: छुट्टी है।

                {गायत्री का कंघी करता हुआ हाथ रुक गया}

गायत्री: क्यों ?

ओम: बरसात होगी।

गायत्री: क्यों ?

ओम: तू कंघी जो कर रही है।

                {बरसात के पहले वाली हवा चली। कैलेन्डर फड़फड़ाने लगे। बाबूजी की बनाई जन्म-पत्रियाँ हवा में उड़ीं। हवा का रुका हुआ झोंका छूट कर उथल-पुथल मचाने लगा। गायत्री – समेटने लगी।

 

सीन नं. 29: एक्सटीरियर:

                {शहर में तूफान के पहले वाला अंधड़ा छाया। साइकिलें हवा में उड़ीं। पेड़ उखड़े। सड़क पर पागल औरत हँसने लगी।}

सीन नं. 30: 28 के समान।

                {ओम शान से आसमान की तरफ देख रहा था। आसमान गरजा तो दीवार की छिपकली बाबूजी के मुंह पर रखे अख़बार पर गिरी। बुरी ख़बरें थीं। बाबूजी डरकर उठ बैठे। पांव में जूते पहले से पहने हुए थे। हाथ बनाई छोटी प्रश्न कुंडलियां हवा में उड़ रही थीं। एक ख़ास चीज़ ढूंढने लगे। अलमारी, तकिये सब छान मारे। आंगन में कुंडलियों के दो राकेट बने हुए थे। खोलकर देखा।

बाबूजी: ओम, तू कमरे में आया था।

ओम: न। 

बाबूजी: तो रॉकेट कौन उड़ा रहा था।

ओम: रूस और अमेरिका।

बाबूजी: गायत्री, दो कुंडलियां नहीं मिल रहीं, हवा में तो नहीं उड़ीं।

                {गुलशन नंदा के उपन्यास में रखी कुंडलियां निकालकर बाबूजी को दी}

गायत्री: मैं पढ़ रही थी।

बाबूजी:     तीस की बीस कर रहा हूं। एक साल के दस मिलेंगे। ख़िज़ाब है।

गायत्री: छि: ! घुट घुट के मरेगी वो। -मेरे भी तो बाल सफेद हो रहे हैं।

बाबूजी: तो चली जा जहां तू समझती है हमेशा: जि़न्दा रहेगी।

                {गायत्री अपमानित होकर अपनी खटिया के किनारे पर जा बैठी। दरवाज़े से गली दिखती थी। वो बाहर गली में निकली। कुछ दूर पहुंचते ही बारिश की पहली बौछार गिरी। बचने को भागी।}

सीन नं. 31: एक्सटीरियर:

                झील में नौका विहार, चांदनी रात, ठंड,   लाल रूमाल डाले आवारा     छोरा और हिप्पन छोरी।

                {लाल रूमाल और काला चश्मा पहने आवारा छोरा और हिप्पन छोरी नाव चला रहे थे}

छोरा: जानती हो प्यार किसे कहते हैं: {ल व्ह} एल.ओ.वी.ई.! लव, लेक ऑफ सॉरो- ओ, ओसियन ऑफ़ टीयर्स- वी, वैली ऑफ डैथ- ई, एण्ड आफ लाईफ। प्यार कोई बाजारू – चीज़ नहीं है जो अमेरिका में बिके।

                {नाव दूर जाकर पानी में डूब गई}

सीन नं. 32: इन्टीरियर/एक्सटीरियर:

                पिक्चर हाल, दिन, बारि गायत्री, जगदीश, दर्शक

                {अन्धेरी में गायत्री को लगा कई जन उसे घूर रहे हैं। जगदीष की नजर की पकड़। जगदीष पर्दे की ओर देखने लगा। वो भी अकेला था। पिक्चर छूटी। भीड़ दरवाजे की तरफ बढ़ने लगी। जगदीश सामने खड़ा था – हकला कर बोला – ‘‘आई लव यू’’ और तेज़ी से पलटकर भागा। गायत्री हक्की बक्की रह गई। भीड़ दरवाज़े के बाहर छूटी तो सीढि़यां उतरते हुए, फुल साइज़ मिरर में अपने को कइयों के बीच अकेला पाई।

सीन नं. 33: एक्सटीरियर:

                सुनसान सड़क, बारि के बाद दोपहर, जगदीश,  गायत्री, ऑटोरिक्शा

                {बारिश के बाद सड़क के दोनों ओर पेड़ धूप में सूख रहे थे। गायत्री अकेली, उदास घर की ओर जा रही थी एक ऑटोरिक्शा कान के पास से सनसनाता हुआ गुजर गया। छाती पर हाथ गया तो चुन्नी गायब।}

          ऑटोरिक्शा – कुश्ती लड़ेगी…….

                { ऑटोरिक्शा के बाहर लाल चुन्नी हवा में लहराई}

                इसके पहले कि चुन्नी जमीन पर गिरती, जगदीश ने साईकल पर बैठे-बैठे चुन्नी को नीचे गिरने से बचा लिया। साईकल पर बैठे-बैठे चुन्नी गायत्री को लौटाई।

जगदीश: आई एम सॉरी। पर कुसूर आपका भी है।

गायत्री: अकेली थी इसलिये।

जगदीश: अकेला मैं भी हूँ।

                {कुछ दूर तक दोनों के बीच तनाव बना रहा। जगदीश ने चुनौती देकर पूछा}

जगदीश: उचक कर कैरियर पर चढ़ सकती हैं आप। लिफ्ट दे रहा हूँ।

                {गायत्री उचक कर बैठ गई। जगदीश के हाथों में हैंडल कांपा। गायत्री मुस्कुराई। साईकल डबल बोझ से चरमरा कर चली।}

सीन नं. 34: एक्सटीरियर:

                बाबूजी के घर की छत और गली, शाम बारि के बाद, जगदीश और गायत्री

                {जगदीश ने गायत्री को घर के बाहर उतारा।}

जगदीश: माय सेल्फ जगदीश, फराम झुमरी तलैया।

                {गायत्री ने छत से जगदीश को जाते हुए देखा जगदीश सामने से आती हुई साईकिल से टकरा कर गिर पड़ा। गायत्री खिलखिलाती हुई सीढि़यों से आंगन में उतरी। ठोकर लगी। वहीं बैठकर सोच में डूब गई।

सीन नं. 35: इन्टीरियर/एक्सटीरियर:

                बाबूजी का घरपिछवाड़े की गली, दोपहर बारिके बाद, जगदीश,  गायत्री

                {गायत्री ने रेडियो पर स्टेशन ढूंढा,  फिर मोढ़े पर बैठ कर आंगन में गायत्री मशीन वाली सुई से कपड़े पर तोता बना रही थी। सामने गली से धोबी अपने गधे के साथ गुजरा। फिर पोस्ट मैन आया।

पोस्टमैन: गायत्री संकर केयर आफ बी संकर-

                {चिट्ठी खोल कर पढ़ने ही वाली थी कि रेडियो पर अपना नाम सुना।}

रेडियो प्रोग्राम:

          और ये खत है इस प्रोग्राम को बेहद चाहने वाले, झुमरी तलैया के जगदीश साहब का – लिखा है कि आज से झुमरी तलैया की बजाय उन्हें अजमेर का माना जाये – लीजिये मान लिया – जगदीष साहब आपने पता तो बदल लिया लेकन आपका मनपसंद गीत पिछले आठ साल से नहीं बदला- आपका फरमाइशी गीत हाजिर है- और हमेशा की तरह इसी गाने को सुनना चाहते हैं- अजमेर से ही जगदीश, गायत्री, ओम, टिंकू, झिंकू, पिंकी, डॉली और उनके मम्मी डैडी-

                {गाना शुरू हुआ। गायत्री ने चिट्ठी पढ़ी}

चिट्ठी: आवाज़ की दुनिया के दोस्तों। मैंने कभी ख्वाब में भी नहीं सोचा था कि फरमाइशी प्रोग्राम में मेरे नाम के साथ जुड़ी लड़की पिक्चर हॉल में मिलेगी। क्या पता इन फरमाइशी प्रोग्राम में जुड़े नामों का सम्बन्ध जन्म-जनमान्तर का हो। कहां मैं झुमरी तलैया और तुम अजमेर….खिड़की खोलो तो मैं दिखूं…………।

                {गायत्री ने खिड़की खोली तो दिल धड़का। नाले के उस पार जगदीश साईकिल की घंटी बजाकर हंस रहा था। गायत्री खिड़की की ओट में हो ली। चिट्ठी को आगे पढ़ा।

चिट्ठी: मेरी साईकिल का ख्याल रखना

                                                तुम्हारा जे.

                {फिर से खिड़की से झांका तो केवल साईकिल खड़ी थी। गायत्री खिड़की से साईकिल का ख्याल रखने लगी।}

कमल स्वरूप

कमल स्वरूप

कमल स्वरुप फिल्म एंड टेलीविजन इंस्टिट्यूट पुणे के1974 के स्नातक हैं। घासीराम कोतवाल(1976),अरविन्द देसाई की अजीब दास्तान (1978), गाँधी(1982), सलीम लंगड़े पर मत रो (1989),सिद्धेश्वरी (1989)जैसी फिल्मों में सहायक निर्देशकसंवाद लेखकप्रोडक्शन डिजाइनर और शोधार्थी के बतौर इनका रचनात्मक सहयोग रहा है। बतौर निर्देशकनिर्माता कमल स्वरुप ने अभी तक सिर्फ एक फिल्म बनाई है– ओम दर बदर(1988), भारतीय उपमहाद्वीप में अपनी तरह की एक मात्र कल्ट फिल्मफिल्म फेयर पुरस्कार से पुरस्कृत। ओम दर बदर के अलावे कुछ डाक्यूमेंटरी फिल्में भी।  दादा साहेब फाल्के और भारतीय फिल्मइतिहास  के अद्भुत अध्य्येता। दादा साहब फाल्के का महावृतांत  ‘ट्रेसिंग  फाल्के ‘ के नाम से प्रकाशित । इसी साल दादा साहेब फाल्के  रचित एक नाटक  से प्रेरित  डॉक्यूड्रामा  ‘रंगभूमि ‘ का निर्माण।    

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सिनेमा: अभिव्यक्ति का नहीं अन्वेषण का माध्यम: कमल स्वरुप

By  कमल स्वरुप

भारतीय सिनेमा के सौ होने के उपलक्ष्य में अपने तरह का एकदम अलहदा फिल्म-निर्देशक कमल स्वरुप से  ‘हंस- फरवरी- 2013- हिन्दी सिनेमा के सौ साल’ के लिए  उदय शंकर द्वारा लिया गया एक साक्षात्कार

(८०९० के दशक में सिनेमा की मुख्या धारा और सामानांतर सिनेमा से अलग भी एक धारा का एक अपना रसूख़ था. यह अलग बात है कि तब इसका बोलबाला अकादमिक दायरों में ज्यादा था. मणि कौल, कुमार साहनी के साथसाथ कमल स्वरुप इस धारा के प्रतिनिधि फ़िल्मकार थे. वैकल्पिक और सामाजिकसंचार साधनों और डिजिटल के इस जमाने में ये निर्देशक फिर से प्रासंगिक हो उठे हैं। संघर्षशील युवाओं के बीच गजब की लोकप्रियता हासिल करने वाले इन फिल्मकारों की फिल्में (दुविधा, माया दर्पण और ओम दर बदर जैसी) इधर फिर से जी उठी हैं। आज व्यावसायीक और तथाकथिक सामानांतर फिल्मों का भेद जब अपनी समाप्ति के कगार पर पहुँच चुका है, तब इन निर्देशकों की विगत महत्ता और योगदान पुनर्समीक्षा की मांग करता है।

कमल स्वरुप फिल्म एंड टेलीविजन इंस्टिट्यूट पुणे के1974 के स्नातक हैं। घासीराम कोतवाल(1976), अरविन्द देसाई की अजीब दास्तान (1978), गाँधी(1982), सलीम लंगड़े पर मत रो (1989), सिद्धेश्वरी (1989)जैसी फिल्मों में सहायक निर्देशक, संवाद लेखक, प्रोडक्शन डिजाइनर और शोधार्थी के बतौर इनका रचनात्मक सहयोग रहा है। बतौर निर्देशकनिर्माता कमल स्वरुप ने अभी तक सिर्फ एक फिल्म बनाई हैओम दर बदर(1988), भारतीय उपमहाद्वीप में अपनी तरह की एक मात्र कल्ट फिल्म, फिल्म फेयर पुरस्कार से पुरस्कृत। ओम दर बदर के अलावे कुछ डाक्यूमेंटरी फिल्में भी। दादा साहेब फाल्के और भारतीय फिल्मइतिहास का अद्भुत अध्य्येता। फ़िलहाल दादा साहब फाल्के का महावृतांत रचने में मशगुल।  

Tracing Phalke By kamal swaroop

Tracing Phalke By kamal swaroop

  • प्रश्न एक: भारतीय सिनेमा की एक सदी बीत गई। तो, सबसे पहला सवाल यही कि सिनेमा क्या है? और इस आलोक में भारतीय-सिनेमा की विशेषताएं क्या हैं?

 कमल स्वरुप– हमारा अधिकांश सिनेमा या तो वास्तविक जीवनकाल का एक संक्षिप्त संस्करण होने का प्रयत्न है या फिर किसी साहित्यिक कृति की जस की तस अनुकृति होने की कोशिश। मैं चाहता हूँ कि ऐसे फिल्मकार हो जो अपनी कृति को सदा सफल और लोकप्रिय मुहावरों में तिरोहित कर देने की जगह सिनेमा को साहित्य के नाट्यकृत पुनरुत्पादन की भूमिका से खुद को अलग कर पाठ,गति, ध्वनि और बिम्ब के सम्बन्ध को पुनर्व्यख्यायित करने का प्रयत्न करें। सिनेमा अभियक्ति का नहीं अन्वेषण का माध्यम है। सिनेमा के वस्तुगत यथार्थ का लेखक के अंतर्जगत, नैतिकता या सौंदर्यशास्त्र से कोई सम्बन्ध नहीं है। ये तत्व यथार्थ को दोष-पूर्ण बनाते हैं। सिनेमा- भावुकता और प्रतीकात्मता से रहित शुद्ध कला कृति है । ऐसा आलें रॉबग्रिए का कहना है और मैं उनसे पूर्णतया सहमत हूँ।

संख्या की दृष्टि से देखा जाए तो भारत दुसरे देशों की तुलना में बहुत आगे है। यूरोप का फिल्म-उद्योग हॉलीवुड के हमले के सामने घुटने टेक चुका है। केवल भारत है जिसका फिल्म-उद्योग आत्मनिर्भर है। किन्तु, सिनेमा की दृष्टि से देखा जाए तो भारतीय फिल्में अभी तक नौटंकी और नाट्य-संगीत से ऊपर नहीं उठी हैं। शायद यही कारण है कि वह अब तक हॉलीवुड से बचा हुआ है।

  • प्रश्न दोः भारतीय सिनेमा राजा हरिश्चंद्रसे शुरू होकर ओमदरबदरसे होते हुए वर्तमान तक आकर आता है. और इस यात्राक्रम में भारतीयसिनेमा मिथक, विज्ञान, और संस्कृति का सम्मिलन लगता है. इन श्रेणियों(synthesis) की अभिव्यक्ति के रूप में सिनेमा को कैसे देखते हैं!! (The movie omdarbadar comingles mythology, science, tradition and creats the existentiality of the present. How do you see film as the expression of the synthesis of these categories !

कमल स्वरुप– आज जो भी मूल्य हैं सब अतीत के हैं। प्रारंभ में फिल्मों का उपयोग दूसरे माध्यमों में प्रकट कलाकृतियों को किसी स्थायी माध्यम में परावर्तित करने का प्रयास था। कथा-कहानियाँ, नाटक या फिर रविवर्मा के पौराणिक चित्र। इन कृतियों के प्रतीकों में समकालीनता को तलाशते हुए उनके राजनैतिक रूपांतरण की कोशिश हुयी। फिर आये ऐतिहासिक आख्यान और संतों के जीवन- चित्र। फिल्में अतीत की स्मृतियों के व्यापक प्रचार-प्रसार का माध्यम बना। फिल्मों में ध्वनि के आगमन के बाद अतीत की उन्हीं मूक कहानियों  को फिर से दोहराया गया, चित्रित किया गया। और, फिर आये सामाजिक समकालीन नाटकों और साहित्यिक कृतियों का फ़िल्मी रूपांतरण।

सिनेमेटोग्रफिक यंत्रों  का अविष्कार और विकास-क्रम अपने आप में एक स्वयंसिद्ध घटना थी।वह कला का माध्यम कब बनी और कैसे बनी ,वह दूसरी बात है लेकिन हमें यह  बात भी नहीं भूलना चाहिये कि सिनेमेटोग्राफी जादूगरों, जांत्रिकों और तांत्रिकों के मिले जुले प्रयत्न थे, उनकी इच्छा शक्ति थी। कुछ लोगों का मानना है कि यह केवल एक प्राकृतिक संयोग भर था। अनेक नए उपन्यासकारों में सिनेमा के प्रति उत्पन हुये आकर्षण का कारण क्या था? वे कैमरे की वस्तुपरकता से नहीं बल्कि उसकी आत्मपरकता और कल्पनात्मक संभावनाओं से प्रभावित हुये थे। वे सिनेमा को अभिव्यक्ति का नहीं, बल्कि अन्वेषण का माध्यम मानते थे। और, उन्हें सर्वाधिक दिलचस्पी उस पदार्थ में हुई जिसे लेखन में व्यक्त करना ज़रा भी संभव नहीं था। दोनों इंद्रियों, आँख और कान पर एक साथ खेल करना। इन बोलते चलचित्रों में कोई आदिम गुण है। वह वर्तमान का हिस्सा है। सनातन वर्तमान का समूचा बल और वेग। सिनेमा, बिम्बों की प्रकृति का नहीं बल्कि उनकी संरचना का सवाल था। ये नयी फ़िल्मी सरंचनाएँ, बिम्बों और ध्वनियों की ये हलचलें दर्शक की समझ में फ़ौरन आ जाती हैं। इनकी ताकत साहित्य से बहुत बड़ी है। यही युग न्यू थियेटर, बाम्बे टाकीज और  प्रभात का था।फिर बने तारे सितारे। उनके प्रजनन के अनुष्ठान, मानों सिनेमेटोग्राफिक मशीन की मूल प्रकृति, मेकेनिकल्स मीन्स ऑफ़ रिप्रोडक्शन को मुंह चिढ़ाते। ये नए फोटोजेनेटिक्स (photo-genetics) पीढियों दर पीढ़ियों का राष्ट्रीय कैलेंडर रचने लगा। कथा केवल उनके प्रेमपुराण थे। हम उनके जन्म-मृत्यु से अपना जीवन नापने लगे। साहित्य-सिनेमा ने इस प्रजनन की निष्ठुरता और असहिष्णुता के सामने घुटने टेक दिए। पूँजी के हाथ एक कालजयी हरम लगा था। इस मादक अग्निस्नान में दर्शक स्वाहा होने लगे। काल की बलि चढ़ा।

मैं अब सीधे ओम दर बदर  पर आना चाहूँगा। कुछ घुमा-फिरा कर। किसी महान रचनाकार के शब्द हैं, जिनका नाम मैं नहीं बताना चाहता हूँ- नक़ल से अक्ल वो रहे सदा। वह फिल्म मेरी कल्पना के टुकड़े थे और मैं भाषा के समान सरचना का आनंद ले रहा था। किन्तु मैं चाहता था कि एक ऐसे संसार का संवाहक बनूँ जो कि न तो बिम्ब है, न ध्वनि। यही वह संसार है जिस तक मैं विभिन दिशाओं से, अनेक सड़कों से होकर पहुँचाना चाहूँगा और वह सत्य मेरे बचपन का दानव होगा। वह उसी दानव से बचने के लिए बुनी गयी कहानी थी। मृत्यु से बचने का मेरा उपहास-जनक अनुष्ठानिक-प्रयत्न और उसका भयावह अंकन। ओम फिल्म नहीं है, वह फिल्मों से पलायन का चित्रण है। मैं सिनेमा के संसार में भाग कर आया था, यथार्थ से छुपने किन्तु मैंने पाया कि सिनेमा मृत्यु भी है और पुनर्जीवन भी और ओम के द्वारा मैं भाग निकला, यह मैं दावे के साथ कहता हूँ। मुझे अपनी मॉक (mock)- मृत्यु का खेल खेलने में खूब मज़ा आया। ओम फिल्म नहीं, खुद को एक झांसा था और न ही मैं कोई फिल्मकार।

Om darbadar(1988)

Om darbadar(1988)

  • प्रश्न तीनः सिनेमा अभिव्यक्ति के सशक्त माध्यम के रूप में क्या हमारे सामाजिक एवं राजनीतिक जीवन को दिशानिर्धारित करने में सक्षम है? स्वातंत्र्योत्तर भारतीय सामाजिकराजनीतिक परिदृश्य में हस्तक्षेप करने में यह कितना सक्षम हुआ है!! पूरी भारतीय फिल्म इंडस्ट्री में (एकदो अपवादों को छोड़) कोई भी अच्छी राजनैतिक फिल्म नहीं बन पाई है। इसमें सेंसर बोर्ड की ज़िम्मेदारी है या साहस की कमी?

कमल स्वरुप– मेरे लिए सिनेमा अभिव्यक्ति नहीं कितु अभिव्यक्ति के विभिन्न व्याकरणों की जांच-पड़ताल है। जैसा कि शुरू मैंने में ही कहा कि सिनेमा अन्वेषण है। वैसे भी रियल नारियल है, क्यों और सरपलस (surplus) पैदा किया जाये। हमें ‘भंगी’ फिल्मकारों की ज़रुरत है जो झाड़ू फेरे और इस रियल नारियल के खिलाफ जंग छेड़े। वर्ना पता नहीं लगता नेहरू जी की मुद्रा दिलीप कुमार से आई थी या दिलीप कुमार की नेहरू जी से। नर्गिस मदर इण्डिया पहले बनी या फिर शक्ल समान होने का कोई खानदानी राज़ है।

मज़े की बात है कि फालके खुद स्वदेशी आन्दोलन के हिस्सा थे और तिलक के जीवन से प्रभावित थे। जब उन्होंने लाइफ ऑफ़ क्राइस्ट देखी तो लगा हम अपने भारतीय बिम्ब कब परदे पर देखेंगे। ये विदेशी कल्पनाएँ हमारी चेतना को धीरे धीरे नष्ट कर देंगी। शुरू की फिल्मों के बिम्बों में गूढ़ राजनैतिक संदेश छुपे हुये रहते थे और अंग्रेजों को सेंसर बोर्ड की स्थापना करनी पड़ी थी। पौराणिक आख्यानों के बाद ऐतिहासिक फिल्मों के ज़रिये एक राष्ट्रवादी उतेजना को पैदा किया जाने लगा था। उसके बाद सामाजिक फिल्मों के ज़रिये समाज में व्याप्त रुढ़िवादी रीति-रिवाजो पर प्रहार किये जाने लगे।भक्ति काल के संतो पर बनी सभी फिल्में खूब सफल रहीं । फिल्मों के ज़रिये से एक आत्मविश्वास जगाया जा रहा था।

अब रही बात आज की। सबसे पहले मैंने राजनैतिक फिल्मों की बात कुमार शाहनी से सुनी थी उन दिनों मैं उनकी फिल्म तरंग में काम कर रहा था। वे वामपंथी विचारधारा से जुड़े थे। मैंने समझा कि राजनैतिक फिल्में, सत्ता के शक्ति-संघर्षो की कथा होती है। उसे दर्शाने के लिए वे वामपंथी विचारों का या कहें तो फार्मूला का उपयोग करते थे। फिर जाना कि सत्ता-संघर्ष केवल देश में ही नहीं, यहाँ तक कि परिवार में भी चलती है और वह किसी भी आधार पर हो सकती है।

अब मैं मनाता हूँ कि एक ही बात को विभिन कोणों से देखने पर अलग ही घटना का निर्माण होता है।और, वे सारेदृष्टिकोण अलग-अलग विचारधारा का निर्माण करती हैं जो कि हमारे निजी स्वार्थों से नियंत्रित होती हैं। निजी स्वार्थों से परे जाने के लिए हमे एक वस्तुनिष्ठ विज्ञान का सहारा लेना पड़ता है जो कि एक असम्भव कार्य है। यहाँ पर समानुभूति की अपेक्षा की जा सकती है, जिस की कमी आज हम सब में है। मैंने यह बात केवल घटक में देखी है।

  • प्रश्न चारः समकालीन बॉलीवुड सिनेमा में  तकनीकी  विकास तो झलकता है किन्तु विषयवस्तु के स्तर पर अधकचरापन बारबार उभरकर आता है। बड़े निर्देशकों की फिल्मों में भी! इसे बौद्धिकता के अभाव से जोड़कर देखा जाए या ईमानदारी के अभाव से? एक कलामाध्यम के रूप सिनेमा की   स्वायत्तता को आप कैसे देखते हैं?

कमल स्वरुप– डिजिटल के आने से मुझे लगता है कि हम पहली बार स्वायत्तता को क्लेम कर सकतें हैं। सिनेमा अनुभूति और संवेदना, व्यष्टि और समष्टि के सम्बन्ध का विज्ञान है। विभिन्न नाट्य एवं ललित कलाओ का समिश्रण है। किसी घटना के काल और दिक् के आयामों का रूपांकन है। इस स्तर की सूक्ष्मता का बॉलीवुड में पूर्णतया अभाव है। हमारे यहाँ अब तक प्रोडक्शन डिजाइन (production design) नाम की चीज़ का पता नहीं है। फिल्म का मतलब है स्टार कौन है और इसी बात पर पैसा उठता है। बॉलीवुड की अपनी भाषा है और उसका जीवन से कोई सम्बन्ध या जीवन के प्रति कोई प्रतिबद्धता नहीं है। और उन्हें देखना हमारी आदत बन चुकी है, हमारे काल का निर्णय उसी से होता है। जब आमिर खान चलता है तो सब लड़के उसी जैसे लगने लगते हैं। जब अमिताभ चला था तो सब उसी जैसे लगने लगे थे .

  • प्रश्न पांचः बालीवुड सिनेमा की भाषा पहले उर्दू हुआ करती थी फिर हिन्दीउर्दू का मिलाजुला खूबसूरत रूप। अस्सी के दशक के बाद हिन्दी में बोले गए संवादों को दुबारा अंग्रेजी में दोहराने का चलन बढ़ा जिससे फिल्मों की लंबाई भी अनावश्यक रूप से बढ़ती थी और अब ज्यादातर सिनेमा के नामों में भी अंग्रेजी के नाम जोड़े जाने लगे हैं। ऐसा क्यों हो रहा है?

कमल स्वरुप– बोलती फिल्मों के शुरू होने पर अधिकतर लेखक हिंदी उर्दू से आये थे, अधिकतर लाहौर से। अब तो हिंदी-उर्दू कोई भी नहीं पढ़ता। कुछ लोग एनएसडी से भले आते हैं, पर अब मुंबई में हिंदी-उर्दू नाम मात्र के लिए बची है। धीरे धीरे बोलचाल की भाषा अंग्रेज़ी में बदल रही है। स्क्रिप्ट इंग्लिश में लिखी जा रहीं हैं। सवांद हिंदी में ज़रूर होते हैं पर अधिकतर अंग्रेजी फिल्मो के अनुवाद। हॉलीवुड इस बात को समझ रहा है और अपनी अधिकांश फिल्मों को भारतीय भाषाओं  में डब करके एक नया बाज़ार खड़ा कर रहा है।

  • प्रश्न छः: क्या हिन्दी सिनेमा की दुनिया भी दो हिस्सों में बंट गई हैएक इलीटिस्ट सिनेमा जो मल्टीप्लेक्स में चलता हैदूसरा जो मझोले शहरों और कस्बों में

कमल स्वरुपमल्टीप्लेक्स वाले दर्शक भारतीय फिल्मो में हॉलीवुड या योरोपियन फिल्मो का व्याकरण ढूंढने जाते हैं ,छोटे शहरों के लोग शायद अभी तक उससे परिचित नहीं हैं। पर एक ज़माना था जब यह अंतर नहीं था। हमारा अपना खुद का विकसित व्याकरण था। प्रभात, न्यू थिएटर, राजकमल आदि काफी आगे थे और किसी भी वर्ग के दर्शक से संवाद करने में सक्षम थे.

  • प्रश्न सात: भारतीय सिनेमा के सर्वांगीण के विकास के लिए क्या कुछ होना चाहिए?

कमल स्वरुप– उत्पादन का विकेंद्रीकरण। तत्पश्चात, प्रांतीय कृतियों का अनुवादों के जरिये आदान-प्रदान। नाट्य एवं ललित कलाओं के कर्मियों का एक-जुट मंच, हर शहर-प्रान्त में।साहित्यिक-पत्रिकाओं की तरह सिने-कृतियों का वितरण। हर छोटे शहरमें फिल्मोत्सव और सिने-शिक्षा के शिविर।

  • प्रश्न आठ: ओमदरबदर की परंपरा से प्रभावित युवा निर्देशक सिनेमा के व्याकरण को बदलने की कोशिश कर रहे हैं. क्या इसे सार्थक बदलाव के रूप में देखा जा सकता है?

कमल स्वरुप– कुछ दिन पहले मैंने आनंद गाँधी की Ship of Theseus देखी और उसे अपने काफी करीब पाया। पूर्णतः एक वैचारिक फिल्म, जो की ब्रह्म-विभ्रम की प्रस्तुति के पार जाती है।

Kamal swaroop

Kamal swaroop

साभार – हंस- फरवरी- 2013- हिन्दी सिनेमा के सौ साल

Cultural Class Always Looks for the Fantasies of Sacrifice, Failure and Suffering- Kamal Swaroop

 By Kamal Swaroop

( A Genius film director and scholar )

An Interview

Why has Kamal Swaroop become the symbol of mistaken genius; a case study in an artist’s tragedy?

If I was competitive and rich I would not have been framed as a genius: rest, cultural class always looks for the fantasies of sacrifice and failure and suffering. Maybe I was available as a subject of their anthropological imagery. Even when I was in FTII, every one called me genius without a solid reason to back that claim up. I never wanted to make a film, but I would talk a lot and reject most films. People challenged me, thus, to make a film myself. Om Dar B Dar was my response. 300187_112406218871243_1609427079_n

What do you identify yourself as? An example to avoid, an obsessive compulsive auteur who held dear his personal vision the most and paid the price for it, or just another film lover?

One of the ex students from the FTII direction course. I can only do what I can do. In art you can’t adopt some one else’s example, you can only represent where you come from. Om dar b Dar is Ajmer. As for being an example to avoid, I would just say – each for himself and cinema against all. I have had a terribly joyous and unframed life.

Is the oblivion a self-imposed exile or are you a victim of circumstances – of being cursed with the gift of being way ahead of your time?

(The irony is) I never fancied myself as a film maker. And feel very happy with the small work I do on mini dv or a multimedia project on Phalke. I also work on other people’s projects. Yes, I accept that I was good in whatever I did. If I was young in today’s time I would have been counted amongst the nerds.

What, according to you, is cinema? What does it constitute in its most original conception?

Resurrection: Individual as in Christ, mass as in the story of Bhagirathy, mass resurrection of children of King Sagar.

Most of the modern-day imagery, such as the one that features in advertisements or even in Bollywood films, basically attempts to and successfully does bypass the logical faculty of the viewers who watch them – addressing, instead, only the most primal, basal and fundamental of the human psyche. Why do you think images around us are getting increasingly redundant?

Most of the best brains from arts and craft are involved in the business of advertising and entertainment industry using the best available technology. They work according to the marketing briefs, i.e each spiritual problem has a material solution. We cannot really expect a philosophical rendering of a subject from them.

Why, looking at the examples of someone like you, or Kumar Shahani, should a new-young filmmaker in this nation pick up his camera and believe that he can actually make it his pen and each film a personal diary entry? What should motivate him towards the attainment of such a personal goal?

Recording and documenting is an important function of cinema, or say storing, like they say stories as means of storing a mass of information. Or say iconography, a constructed representation of vast memory and events. Otherwise it is impossible to store this chaos as it is because of a lack of space. I would not compare camera with pen and paper simile since language has its own reality. But I do agree that there are many young people from NID or Srishti, going back to their home towns and making wonderful things. A decentralization of production is necessary. Otherwise Bombay Bandra home videos are being touted as pan Indian reality.

But again, pen and paper thing applies only to digital video, it would not apply to films that are industrially produced: That film is a result of coming together of many evolved skills and imagination and pushing the technology to its limit. We also have to consider the changing nature of exhibition and distribution, with coming up of smaller states, there is going to be a great need of film makers to represent and to fulfil the artistic needs of that time and space.

There are many young film makers coming out of NID, some from FTII who are returning to their roots and their cities, who do not feel the need to keep imaging Bombay. Like Akash Gaur’s Itni Door Bhagaya, Bela Negi’s Daayen ya Baayen or Ram’s Putaani Party. But to be like a chronicler of a place like the novelist in the older times, it would need a deeper commitment and the local development of the infrastructure. Like in the early 20th Century, the writers had the whole press and distribution system. But at the same time, the demand from the author is not an exclusive subjectivity but a responsibility towards a certain objectiveness towards the people and their history.

Why do you think Parallel Cinema ended of all a sudden, much like Arthur C.Clarke’s Rama? Did it achieve the aims it set out to accomplish? Was it effective, or did it run, as is suggested, only ‘parallel’ to the mainstream, thus never attempting to influence the mainstream aesthetic in any manner? Did it exhaust its own possibilities? How important do you think was NFDC’s role in it?

Parallel cinema was an extension of the literary movement that took place during the 60’s and these writers also dreamt of a certain kind of a cinema and they facilitated the new film makers of that time. At the same time, the Times of India and also other, vernacular literary magazines were in full support of this new happening where the film maker was not just a merchant of entertainment but could be bracketed amongst the artists, ie writers, painters, sculptors. There was already a space for an author like this, in cinema. Realising available space like this, some of the FTII and other people with the unexpected arrival of FFC funding, jumped in. Among these authors, different positions were taken. We didn’t only have Mani Kaul or Kumar Shahani who saw their role and position amongst the international authors, we had people like Basu Chatterjee also who took the middle path and took it also as a business activity. He inspired so many film makers from the industry that he was easily taken in the mainstream. When the industry people realized that a person like KK Mahajan   ­or AK Bir could take 75 shots in a day, the functioning of the industry changed overnight. Even the BR Chopras were inviting Basu Chatterjee to take over. So it is true that the parallel film people influenced the mainstream in a way. Then came the closing down of the TOI publications, like Saarika, Madhuri, Dharamyug, and a lot of other vernacular magazines, who were the mouthpiece of this parallel movement. Earlier these magazines were inspiring the imaginations of the readers and inspiring them to become film makers.

There was a production of these films upto a time, but there were no distribution and exhibition developed parallel with the production activity. Most of the films functioned as a cultural commodity for exchange with the European countries. This cultural commodification started creating new limitations and parameters- formulas within these films. But surprisingly the new generation today keeps looking for NFDC films.

You were a FTII graduate. You resumed your studies as a post-graduate. While you assisted in Attenborough’s Gandhi, where do you think the seeds of your largely formalist approach towards cinema were sown? How important do you think was the role of your vast reading of Indian literature in it?

My thinking changed after watching My American Uncle by Resnais. I was always an anti illusionist and wanted to do something about imagination and education. Or fictionalize philosophical essays. In his this film and his later films, I found a way.

Reading literature, it did help. I connected with Manohar Shyam Joshi’s sense of humour.

What defines the term avant-garde for you? And if can consciously appreciate its connotation, was Om Dar Ba Dar a conscious attempt at that type(avant-garde) of a film?

Avante garde is a technical term applied to a different movement. In Om Dar b Dar, I was reacting to the parallel cinema of that time. For example, I won’t say there are characters. I will say the film itself is a character. I was more interested in disconnecting and making the film that would work like a head cleaner. We used to call it brooming and presumed the role of a scavenger. And constructed a film based on the rejected.jay_filmclub-panel03_02

Is Om Dar Ba Dar an event that you look back at with pride? Or do you look at it as an opportunity lost? Do you ever think you could have made a debut feature that evoked more embracement than intimidation?

Yes, with full pride. And no, I don’t.

You worked with ISRO in helping them produce Science Educational Programmes in the mid 1970s. A lot of Om Dar Ba Dar deals with a person’s simultaneous fascination with science, for instance the moon landing; and bewilderment with it – Om in his science class as he dissects frogs. Is that incorporation autobiographical? How instrumental was your work on the science educational programmes in shaping you as a filmmaker?

During ISRO times, we used to make science programmes based on the Russian books where they used to explain scientific phenomenas through fairy tales and parables. These books used to be a mix and match of playfulness, imagination, and magic tricks. For example I did a programme called System and Interaction, which was a complex subject by itself, but by taking a story of Jack and the Beanstalk, it became very easy for a child of eight to understand. This was the time when we were hobnobbing with scientists, product designers, architects, graphic artists, anthropologists. I must have been around twenty two years old and it was great in my formative development.

It came in the wake of an era in Indian cinema where everything had fallen into the dark ages – the VCR had entered people’s homes, television was(and is still) becoming increasingly lucrative, and producers from the South had imported their inane ostentatious approach to Mumbai. Was, your film, at a level, aware of this era; or did you plan it as an entrance into another newer one?

I was aware of all the happenings and wanted to make my film as a force that would have to be reckoned with by the new order. My effort was appreciated even by the commercial industry, the Filmfare being the validation of that claim. With Om Dar Ba Dar, it seems you are consistently attempting a departure from the aesthetic of the parallel cinema, and also its thematic concerns. It is almost as if your film is an expose of the hypocrisy of the other films produced by NFDC.

You set your film in a small town, but instead of demystifying and simplifying the residents of that town, you deliberately choose to enhance their mystery and present them as entangled in far greater issues than mere sociological concerns. As such, your characters are first human and then trigger points for greater issues, a complete antithesis of the films of someone like Shyam Benegal?

Those days we used to call this middle wave cinema “Complaint Box”. What more can I say?

Do you think the narrative is a burden that cinema has fallen in eternal servitude to? Is it like lyrics are to music? Considering, also, that your film uses the narrative only as an excuse to traverse greater ideas – some of which are Om’s identity crisis, the hypocrisy called Indian culture, Gayatri’s sexual deprivation, curiosity related to adolescence, and the move from adolescence to adulthood? In that sense, your film is almost anti-narration.

Usually I start constructing a screenplay by dreaming of images and shuffling them in my mind. Then I note them down on paper. Since I am very weak in thinking in languages, I work in a way which in the end takes a story form as a way to keep these images together. But surprisingly, I never read what I write. The screenplay is basically for the production break down. I keep processing the images in my mind till the last moment and not relying on the fixed image on paper.

You’ve written that cinema was essentially conceptualized through the incorporation of the concept of a cyclic loop, but as the medium progressed, the events within a story were reduced to a linear progression, with one thing happening at a time, and more importantly never happening again. Was your film a return to the idea of the ‘loop’; the ‘ellipse’?

This kind of a conceptualization I only developed after I was working on the Phalke project. During Om, I was not aware of it. But in Om, the images keep repeating in different shapes. And adhering to a musical system of returning again and again. And arriving at a ‘sam’.

You also deliberately dissociate sound with related imagery at various points in the film; for instance when Om’s father is indicted for conning people through fraudulent astrology, and you shoot him from a roof into the crowd and a voiceover announces the court’s judgement – was it done to make the audience consistently aware of the element of sound that they had taken for granted?

Since I couldn’t illustrate all the information that I wanted to give to the audience, I was making the best use of the filmic time available.

Om Dar Ba Dar is a film that exists in the form of mythic folklore in the annals of Indian cinema history. Most film lovers know about it; but most haven’t watched it. You have written that it’s a Dadaist film. Which would mean that you were fighting against an established order to you’re your ‘chaos’. What was that ‘established order’ for you? Even then, demystify it for us.

It is a fictional film set in Ajmer.

That done, tell us about your involvement with Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro.

I was doing research on that project and used to go to Bombay Central, Grant Road, interviewing small gangsters operating in various byelanes, composing a prototype of Salim, the protagonist.

Ever since Om Dar Ba Dar, you’ve made documentaries in association with the PSBT. Why do you think the documentary form has assumed a didactic status in the realm of Indian cinema, and why is no longer an exploration; but a lesson? What do you think is the reason behind its waning popularity.

There is a mix of kinds of achievements and intention in documentary today, just as in earlier times, during the Film Division times. But once in a while, we find very well realized short films and documentaries within this funding system.

For the last 20 years, you have been working on a documentary project tentatively entitled The Life and Times of Dadasaheb Phalke. With a current film, Harishchandra Factory, winning critical accolades, where do you think your effort stands in terms of its relevance?

With the coming of Harishchandra Factory, people have taken a renewed interest in my project. Personally I really don’t know what kind of a form, in the end, my project is going to take and the number and the kind of off shoots.

Why the fascination with Dadasaheb Phalke? A fascination which stretches into your exhaustive reading on him, and accumulation of different resources of information on him? So much so that you’ve had to scrape through and seek artist funds to maintain a normal lifestyle.

This was the only way to educate myself in all the arts and crafts. There are so many areas in this project which are beneficial to various funding agencies. So, it has becomes a never ending symbiotic relationship between me and others.463099_3004821194900_1101066903_o

You have also said, “As Brahma of the Pushkar is the father of the artisan, so is Phalke of Trimbak given the title of father of Indian cinema-my two obsessions.” – how important is this inquiry into the figure of a father for you?

There is a deeply ingrained image in my mind of the story of Brahma and his five heads, which is a generative image and excites my imagination. The story goes like this:

One day, Brahma, the father, the creator, was sitting by himself and he created a little girl from himself. The girl stood facing her father, the Brahma. She was happy in the beginning but suddenly got terrified, seeing the lust in her father’s eyes. So she moved to the side. Brahma did not turn his head, he just sprung another head on the side to look at her. She again turned and in this way, the four heads sprung from Brahma’s neck keeping a track of her terrestrially in all four directions. So she flew to escape his gaze. A fifth head sprung to scan her in the sky. An adolescent Shivgana(aspect of Shiva)- Batuk Bhairava- not understanding the basis of the play of nature between the creator and the creation, in rage, cut off the fifth head of Brahma. The head stuck to his hand and with that pain, he aged and turned into an old man himself. Something similar with Phalke that I want to arrive at…

You have talked in the past about cinema’s historical preference of the temporal montage over the spatial one – the latter being the one which facilitates an arrangement of shots that depict actions taking place not one after the other; but simultaneously, only in different spaces – do you think the cross-cutting techniques employed by Jean Pierre Melville, Edward Yang or Fred Zinnemann; or the narrative schema employed by Quentin Tarantino or Jean-Luc Godard were attempts at the presentation of simultaneously occurring events in different places?

There cannot be simultaneity because the audience will watch the cross cut events in a linear way, in time. The spatial montage can function in cinema like the way it does in Mughal miniatures, many actions, of different volumes, in the same space.

Expressionist cinema does this, often, where multiple images are aesthetically unfolding from the same horizon- different from the clumsier split screen.

Who were your formative influences while growing up? Which were your favourite films?

Andy Warhol, Bhupen Khakar. A lot of friends. Navjeet Singh, Rahul Dasgupta, Arun Khanna, Manohar Shyam Joshi. Roman Polanski. Ozu. Bunuel. Alan Resnais. My favorite films include- Tokyo Story, Life Upside Down, Days of Matthew, Intimate Lighting, Nazarin, and My American Uncle.

You have talked about the emergence of the new Indian cinema in the 70s being a result of realistically set literature that was the precedent of that cinema. How important do you think is the role of literature in shaping the aesthetic of cinema?

The text based cinema will have a different aesthetics and would depend on the source. Like My American Uncle is based on an essay by a biologist, or the Iranian films- Wind will Carry us or The Taste of Cherries is based on Camus’ essay from the Myth of Sisyphus. Or say, taking a text from a short story, novel or epic will lead to different kinds of cinema. If you like at Ray’s films, Bibhuti Bhushan takes him somewhere else and  ­Rabindranath Tagore takes him somewhere else. During 70’s when Mrinal and Ray were sourcing their films from the same kind of a text, say, Samresh Basu, Shankar, Sameer Ganguly, their films look alike, you cannot differentiate between Interview and Pratidwandi. At the same time, there is a different kind of cinema that does not depend on the literary text. And uses the liberties that cinematic imagination provides with, constructed shot after shot. You can see that kind of films in early Roman Polanski.

Where do you see the position of the truly independent and experimental filmmaker in the nation today?

Digital film making is the way.

Finally, do you believe the attainment of pure cinema is a dream possible today, or do you, like Peter Greenaway and Godard, believe that that possibility has long been exhausted; and that cinema can no longer rid itself of the influence of text? Can an image, thus, finally detach itself from a word?

If you take cinema as an activity, and an empathetic tool towards the consciousness around, I think it is possible

.Kamal swaroop

(Published In Indian Auteur: Jan 2010, issue no-8)

Om Darbadar (1988) Dir by Kamal Swaroop

“To Prime Minister. Subject: The Googly. Dear Raju, Please ban googly in cricket and life in general. Thanks, A freedom fighter, Babuji B. Sankar.”

If one is asked to describe briefly what Kamal Swaroop’s Om Darbadar (1988) is, some of the answers could be: carefully constructed non-sense, endless dream of a cinephile, a satire on everything, full stop to Indian parallel cinema, random footage, extremely challenging piece of filmmaking, the great Indian LSD trip, landmark Indian film that aims big. With all the ingredients required to make a cult classic, Om Darbadar is the kind of movie that can easily polarize critics and audiences alike. It is, in fact, surprising that the National Film Development Corporation consented to produce this film. Using image, sound and montage to the maximum extent (and often gratuitously) and dialog that seem like knitted from parts of different sentences, almost always making no meaning (written by Kuku, also the lyricist and the art director of the film), Swaroop’s film is an antithesis to whatever is recognized globally as Indian cinema – a reason good enough to make Om Darbadar a must-see movie.

Here’s the plot of the film: Horoscope, dead frog, cloudy sky, the moon, radio program, caste reservation, bicycle, Mount Everest, women’s liberation, communism, sleeveless blouse, Yuri Gagarin, miniature book, Nitrogen fixation, man on moon, terrorist tadpoles, computer, biology class, turtles, Hema Malini, typewriter, sleazy magazines, hibernation, text inside nose, googly, James Bond, severed tongue, fish rain, shoes in a temple, World War, assassin creed, Gandhi, illicit trade, the lake, goggles, hopping currency, helium breath, counterfeit coins, underwater treasure, diamonds inside frogs, fireworks, the zoo, explosives, town at night, dead man, visit of God, the Panchsheel Pact, foreign tourists, Promise toothpaste, holy men, Fish keychain, Ram Rajya, food chain disruption, anti-cooperation movement, birth control, bagpipes, gecko, Jawaharlal Nehru, Aviation centers, Potassium Cyanide. And I guarantee you, this is as lucid as it can get.

Om Darbadar is, hands down, the most confusing movie I have ever seen and not many movies can come close to dethroning it. Some might propose Buñuel’s first film, but one could at least find one pattern in that work – of anti-narration. This one regularly tantalizes us with a somewhat coherent narrative and just when it seems to get steady, snap! Or Last Year at Marienbad (1961), which is, in fact, an incisive study of the human memory. Om Darbadar, on the other hand, overwhelms us with its utter irreverence for integrity of reality, unity of content and consistency of form. Or the very many avant-garde films of Brakhage, Warhol, Anger, Snow or Smith, which, I believe, have always had a strong theoretical basis. No, this film does not have any single, central factor as its theme or motivation. Of course, one can find shreds here and there in the film that do make it seem like dealing with the idea of identity crisis in suburban India, but that’s strictly on a speculative level.

Often we witness directors claiming to show the world what real India is – a statement negated by the films themselves. Leave alone filming, it is to be accepted that even understanding the dynamics of such a largely diverse country is near impossibility. But, if there was ever a film that attempted to capture the workings of real India almost in its entirety, it has to be this one. Yes, it does bite much more than it can chew, but surely, digestion is not its intention. In a country where science, religion, mythology, arts, politics and philosophy seep into common lives trying to overpower each other, there is no single way to separate these threads so as to examine their influence on the way of life. This is a nation where the apparently inexplicable supernatural walks hand in hand with the most modern of scientific theories (In one scene in the film, Gayatri (Gopi Desai) asks Jagdish (Lalit Tiwari) if women can really climb Mount Everest without the help of men, he tells her: “Why not? After all, goddess Parvati did it”), a culture that is exposed to all the isms of western thinking yet revels in having its own interpretations of them (wearing a sleeveless blouse is equated to emancipation of women) and a country whose emotions are largely dictated by cinema, television and pop culture (Om Darbadar can be seen as a jab at just about every genre in Indian cinema).

Conventional (and good) cinema has relied on the fact that human psychology manifests itself in the form of their behaviour and speech and hence, an unhindered documentation of their lives would help us understand them better. But not many filmmakers seem to have embraced the reverse process – an entry into the real via the surreal. Kolker fittingly calls Buñuel “the neo-realist of the unconscious” and each one of his films testifies that. Likewise, the whole of Om Darbadar could well be the ultimate Freudian exercise that could help us (de)construct the actual world that Om lives in – a world that is as much fuelled by a love for pulp novels and thriller movies as it is by an aversion to zoology. But all is not so simple and the film is far from an extended dream sequence. Swaroop could have easily had Om (or his father, who begins the film’s narration) wake up at the end of the film, thereby taking us back to our comfort zones. Instead, he seamlessly blends present reality, past reality and fantastical reality to create an elusive work of cinema that defies literature, science and rationality.

Om Darbadar is an utterly frustrating, endlessly irritating and supremely hilarious film. Is it nonsensical? Yes, that is precisely its function. Is it pretentious? No, that can happen only when a film attempts to be something. Is it a one-of-a-kind movie viewing experience? You bet. Whatever one calls it, you cannot deny one fact – Om Darbadar is an indubitably addictive and thoroughly riveting piece of work that simultaneously repels a viewer by not pandering to his needs and yet, keeps him hooked on to the screen from frame one. Quarter hour into the film, I was completely disarmed and found myself laughing out loud through the rest of the film despite (rather, because of) the meaninglessness of it all. Om Darbadar is perhaps the kind of vision that flashes moments before one’s death. Call it the birth of Indian cinema, call it its death, call it Dadaist, call it anti-art, but be sure to bask in its absurdity while it lasts.

[Meri Jaan A A A…!]

The Seventh Art

Om Darbadar (1988) (aka Om-Dar-Ba-Dar)
Kamal Swaroop
Hindi

“To Prime Minister. Subject: The Googly. Dear Raju, Please ban googly in cricket and life in general. Thanks, A freedom fighter, Babuji B. Sankar.

 

Om DarbadarIf one is asked to describe briefly what Kamal Swaroop’s Om Darbadar (1988) is, some of the answers could be: carefully constructed non-sense, endless dream of a cinephile, a satire on everything, full stop to Indian parallel cinema, random footage, extremely challenging piece of filmmaking, the great Indian LSD trip, landmark Indian film that aims big. With all the ingredients required to make a cult classic, Om Darbadar is the kind of movie that can easily polarize critics and audiences alike. It is, in fact, surprising that the National Film Development Corporation consented to produce this film. Using image, sound and montage to the maximum extent (and often gratuitously) and dialog that seem like knitted…

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Om Dar Ba Dar – A Pioneer in Indian Avant – Garde : Riddhiman Basu

By Riddhiman Basu

“Forget Bunuel, Jodorowsky or Warhol for a while! If there’s a single Indian film that draws you towards mind-blowing realm of post modernist…absurdist…surrealist blast to the senses, here’s the cult made by Kamal Swaroop.” This had been the reaction of one of my facebook friends(Hiren Dave), after watching ‘Om Dar Ba Dar’. This is considered to be a groundbreaking film in Indian cinema, pertaining to the avant-garde genre.

The term avant-garde film refers to the genre of innovative and experimental cinema. Avant-garde as a film movement started in Europe in the early 20’s notably among filmmakers like Rene Clair, Man Ray, Duchamp etc. In 1929 film auteur Luis Bunuel in collaboration with artist Salvador Dali created a short film ‘Un Chien Andalou’, that would become a benchmark for avant-garde films all over the world. The genre gradually spread to other parts of the world and resulted in various flavors of experimental filming. This was possible because avant-garde did not restrain itself to any particular format, rather opened up a boundless arena for experimentation on celluloid.

India did not lag far behind. Though avant-garde did not emerge as a major movement during the Indian New Wave, there have been attempts at experimental cinema since 1969(Uday Shankar’s ‘Kalpana’(1848) did contain elements of avant-garde, however, it is debatable whether it could be called a full fledged avant-garde film). However the first feature length film that could be classified as avant-garde (though not necessarily synchronous with the avant-garde movement) came in 1988 from the hands of an auteur known as Kamal Swaroop. ‘Om Dar Ba Dar’, was also the first avant-garde film to get national and international recognition and is still widely viewed and discussed among film enthusiasts.

Kamal Swaroop, a 1974 graduate from FTII Pune had previously worked on a collaboration project, ‘Ghasiram Kotwal’(1976) with the likes of Mani Kaul and also assisted Richard Attenborough during filming of ‘Gandhi’(1982). ‘Om Dar Ba Dar’ was his first solo film. Its release was preceded by a huge controversy in the censor board. However, it won Filmfare Critics Award for the Best Film in 1989. Today, after 20 years of its release, this film has attained a cult status.Preview

The film is a satirical representation of Indian life as a whole. However, this statement fails to give any insight into the film that is absurdist to the core. It eludes conventional narrative structure in general and comprises of a series of psychedelic and non-linear imagery that does not attempt to make sense on a whole. It rather comes across as a deconstruction of collective meaning.

At this point, I would try to give a brief overview of what distantly resembles a plot for the film. Om(Manish Gupta/Aditya Lakhiya) lives in Ajmer. His father Veer Shankar(Lakshminarayan Shastri), who is referred throughout the film as Babuji, is a retired government employee cum astrologer. After Om was born, Babuji discovered that he was destined to die at the age of 18 years, from his horoscope. He named the newborn child Om in an attempt to evade the agents of death, since he believed that the sound of ‘Om’ has never been heard in the jamalok. Om’s elder sister Gayatri(Gopi Desai) considers herself equal in stature to men and sits in men’s section of theatre to emphasize this. Jagdish(Lalit Tiwari), a young man shifts to Ajmer from Jhumritalaiya. He falls for Gayatri when he spots her bold demeanor in the cinema hall. He is further elated to discover that he and Gayatri have been requesting the same song on radio for years. Om meanwhile gains popularity in school due to his ability to hold breath underwater for a long time. Babuji buys Gayatri a bicycle. Jagdish takes the task of teaching her how to ride it. They come closer. Om celebrates a friend’s birthday at a terrace on the same night that Neil Armstrong and his crew land on the moon.

As days pass, we see Babuji setting up an astrology centre in his home and Jagdish becoming his typist. Gayatri also helps Babuji in receiving clients and carrying out the business.

Om has grown into a teenager. He is interested in science as well as mystics and occult and has a fascination for frogs. A lady named Phoolkumari(Anita Kanwar) arrives to consult Babuji. Since she is unable to pay them money, Babuji and Gayatri decide to appoint her as a typist, citing that Jagdish’s spelling is bad. This enrages Jagdish and he breaks off contact with them.

Om is in an adolescent phase and is attracted to Phoolkumari. Lala Lotamal, a businessman on fearing an approaching war; hides his diamonds in the soles of a pair of his shoes and gives it to Babuji for safekeeping.

Meanwhile, Jagdish visits Gayatri. She compels him to get involved physically with her. One day, Om runs off wearing the shoes with diamonds, unknowingly. Babuji suspects Phool and she puts a curse on him which would make him unable to leave his room forever. Om arrives at Lotamal’s private land where some of the diamonds fall off and are swallowed by frogs. When Lala Lotamal comes to claim the diamonds, Babuji convinces him that he has crushed the diamonds and mixed it in the food he is being served. He also instructs Lalaji to hold his bowels for fifteen days and defecate in his land on the night of full moon in order to sow an unlimited supply of diamonds. He also warns him that if anyone sees him in the process, that person should not see anyone else till morning. Lalaji goes to his own land on full moon night in order to comply. Om spots him in the act. Lalaji remembers Babuji’s advice and appoints Om as the guardian of his land. Om starts supplying frogs to a local girls’ school for biology practical lessons.

When these frogs are dissected in the Biology class, the girls discover diamonds in them. The word spreads and leads to a frog-hunt on Lalaji’s land by a mob, in search of diamonds. Though the diamonds have actually fallen off from Om’s shoes, Lalaji believes that they have come from his feces. Lalaji tries to stop this and is shot.

When Om returns home, Babuji tries to catch him. In the process he crosses the verandah and dies due to Phool’s curse. Om arrives at Pushkar. A local Brahmin discovers his ability to hold breath underwater and plans to utilize it for moneymaking. Since the time of Pushkar festival is approaching, he convinces Om to do his breath holding trick every night at 12. This brings a mass of pilgrims to the lake every night. The media also get interested in this event and various brands use Om to promote their products. The people are inspired by Om’s feats and decide to hold their breath along with him as a movement. Om’s discussion with his friend leads him to believe that since his nature is to hold breath, he should breathe once in order to participate in the peoples’ movement(A Saans a ra andolan). He dies underwater when he tries to breathe and his dead body floats up.

Jagdish comes to visit Gayatri after a long time and finds that she has given birth to a child(presumably a result of their lovemaking). He pleads for forgiveness and Gayatri finally obliges. In the end they contemplate suicide by taking potassium cyanide(KCN) and plan to let the world know about its taste. Jagdish takes it first and instructs Gayatri to take down the taste of KCN, since he is weak at spelling. He utters “Gobar”(implying that KCN tastes like cow dung)  before dying. Gayatri changes her mind, abandons the suicide plan and returns home in a bike.

Though the above summary seems logical and linear, the actual treatment is far from it. Many parts of the plot come in reverse and juxtaposed sequences with respect to time. For instance the event of Om arriving at Pushkar is shown before he meets Lotamal in his land. Also the sequence of Lalaji coming to console Gayatri after his father’s death is shown after the sequence of him being shot dead during the frog-hunt. However, such non-linearity is perhaps the least of befuddling elements in the movie.

As mentioned before, the film does not have a collective meaning, a fact that aligns it with the principles of absurdism (human beings’ inability to comprehend an absolute meaning in the universe). However, characteristics or symbolisms can be discerned if we look at the movie in parts. Indeed, the film contains a myriad of varying themes and traits referenced at multiple junctures in the narrative/anti-narrative.

My attempt would be to enumerate some such key elements of this unique film:

  • Examples of non sequitur logic(e.g: all a’s are b’s) are strewn throughout the movie. One example that comes to my mind is towards the beginning, when Gayatri asks Om, “Tujhe kaise pata barish hone wali hai ?”(How do you know it is going to rain?) and Om replies “Tu Kangi jo kar rahi hai”(Because you are combing your hair. Many of the dialogs in the film follow this pattern. Besides this, many of the dialogs are deliberately incoherent and incongruous to produce a nonsensical effect.
  • Another central theme of the movie is the effortless intertwining of science, religion and superstition in Indian life. When Gayatri asks, “Kya koi ladki ladke ke bina Everest chad sakti hai?”(Can any woman climb the Everest without the help of a man?); Jagdish replies, “Parvati ji Chadi Thi”(Godess Parvati did). Again when Gayatri says, “Suna hai chand pe nani ka post khali hai”(I’ve heard that the post of the old lady on moon is vacant), Jagdish in turn asks, “Tum kat leti ho?”(Can you sew?) . The chand ki nani is referenced again on the day when man lands on the moon. Amidst the celebration on the terrace, we see a woman with white hair smiling just when the time of the moon landing arrives.These aspects may seem to be abstract amalgamations, however if we think how science, religion and superstition serve as driving factors for an average Indian citizen, this treatment assumes a very significant relevance.
  •  Gayatri’s part in the movie is perhaps the only linear aspect in the whole film and integrity can be found between the fragments of the narrative relating to her. This is perhaps because views on women’s liberation come through her. She considers herself equal to men and sits in the men’s section of movie theaters, rides a bicycle etc to prove it. In one sequence, she asks Jagdish to make love to her. When Jagdish fumbles with the strings of his underwear, it is Gayatri who brings the scissors and cuts the string. Their lovemaking in portrayed through a humorous metaphor. We see Babuji calling out Gayatri’s name and cycling to and fro in front of their house. Here Babuji is physically not present, rather is a symbolism for the patriarchal inhibition, seemingly for protecting a woman’s virtue before marriage. Babuji collapsing with the cycle signifies the event of Gayatri’s capsizing this inhibition.
  • The scenario of a woman asking for sex rather than succumbing to a man’s desire was seldom seen in the cinema of that time. This is one of the aspects among others, which illustrates that Kamal Swaroop’s masterpiece was much ahead of its times. The director has maintained an egalitarian outlook throughout the movie. Thus, Gayatri gives birth to a child without marriage and raises her alone. Towards the end Jagdish takes Gayatri along to the edge of a cliff in the attempt to commit suicide by tasting KCN. He mentions about udhna or flying together. However, we witness, only Jagdish taking KCN and dying. Gayatri changes her mind and returns on a scooter, as a strong departure from Bollywood love stories depicting the hero and heroine dying together. Here the flying becomes a double ended metaphor, one for suicide and the other for Gayatri’s liberation.
  • The sequences involving Om comprise of the most bizarre and abstract imagery in the whole film, be it the dream sequence hinting at his fear of examination (biology), or the ‘Rana Tigrina‘ song. Om’s fetish with frogs is evident from the sequence of this song ending with Om supposedly gripping the picture of an attractive woman and the sequence where a dead frog is referred to as ‘ladki ki laash’(Corpse of a lady). This could be a subtle hint towards zoophile tendencies. Om’s comment about his growing nose obstructing his view(“Jab bhi mai padta hun, naak akshar kha jaate hai”) and the fact of his nose bleeding, is an indicator of the fact that Om has grown up, reached an adolescent age. Phoolkumari puts her black glasses on his eyes, which she claims would enable him to read properly.

These simplistic scenarios in my opinion represent Om’s adolescent craving and the sexual undercurrents between Phool and Om. Interestingly, these are not represented through Freudian symbolisms, which is generally a favorite of filmmakers. The director rather conjures up an assemblage of unique metaphors for this and many other instances in the movie.

  • The Pushkar lake, that plays a significant part in the movie is a place of immense religious importance for the Hindus. In the texts of Padmapurana, it has been described as the place where Brahma had once held a jagna. Consequently this is the only place to have a temple dedicated to Lord Brahma. It is believed that people who take a dip in the Pushkar during the time of Karthik Shukra Paksha(Full Moon), supposed to be the time of the year corresponding with Brahma’s jagna, wash away their sins and open the gates of heaven in their afterlives. The opening of the Pushkar festival is declared through the statement “Swarg dharti par utar chuka hai”(The heavens have descended to earth) delivered in an airlines announcement-like tone. It is during this time that Om’s magical feat in the Pushkar is put up as a moneymaking prospect for the local Brahmin. The reference of the ‘Promise’ toothpaste(a brand which was available back then) stresses the use of religious platforms for advertising. The use of God as a brand is equally relevant in our times.
  •  Songs have been an integral part of any Indian movie, since inception. The avant-garde songs of ‘Om Dar Ba Dar’ play a very important part in this avant-garde movie as well. The song played on radio is an attempt towards nonsense verse. The song ‘Meri Jaan AAA’ is partly in English, illustrating the English speaking tendencies of the youth and is  a reflection of urban men’s outlook toward women in the then India. ‘Rana Tigrina’ depicts the adolescence of Om and his fascination with frogs.  The lyrics by Kuku and the music by Rajat Dholakia are very appropriate.

One could go on an on writing about this movie; there is so much to write and so much yet to discover. Every time I watch this movie, I find an unexplored nook, a new aspect which I had previously overlooked. Even after all these years, Kamalji gets emails, messages and posts in facebook(he is active in facebook, by the way) from fans of this movie and he is very earnest in replying back to them and discussing about his movie. I was fortunate to have interacted with him on facebook and resolved various doubts about ‘Om Dar Ba Dar’. There are a considerable number of people, who want this movie to be remastered and released with English subtitles. However, when I mentioned this to Kamalji, his reply was, “Too late. I am too tired by this film. I like to move on.” However, the ardent lovers of the film will keep on expecting.

We have had very few examples of feature length avant-garde films in the arena of world cinema. The prominent ones among them were made mostly by Alejandro Jodorowsky. Even considering those, ‘Om Dar Ba Dar’ is unique and Indian to the core. Kamalji does not like to call it an avant-garde film however. In his opinion, “Avant-garde is a technical term applied to a different movement. In Om Dar Ba Dar, I was reacting to the parallel cinema of that time.” He acknowledges Surrealist and Dadaist influences in it. It is certain that if someday, an Indian film theory is developed; this cult classic will receive a special mention as a pioneer in Indian avant-garde, a very deserving accolade for this film and for its creator.

Riddhiman Basu is a Senior Software Engineer at Accenture. He lives in Calcutta.

Courtesy madaboutmoviez

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