Kharij (The Case is Closed) (1982)

Posted: March 28, 2014 in 100 remarkable Bengali films, 100 remarkable Indian films, anjan dutt, Bengali films, Mamata Shankar, Mrinal Sen


Kharij is simply a mind-blowing film by Mrinal Sen. The exploitation of servants by middle class have never been brought out in a better way in the cinemas. Anjan Dutt, a Sen favorite won accolades for his performance in the film. Mamata Shankar enacted the role of the wife of Anjan Dutt.

Kharij opens with a sequence where a small child comes to work in the household of a middle-class family. The couple have a small lovable child. A few sequences later, the scene of action moves to the kitchen. The kitchen is locked from inside. The previous night, the servant had gone to sleep in the kitchen ( usually he sleeps in the basement of the house) and is not answering the frantic calls of his master and other members of the household. After trying for quite a while, the door is broken and the boy is found to be lying in an unconscious state. The doctor is called, who announces the child to be dead.

As it is a case of unnatural death, the police is called. By now, inquisitive neighbors have already got wind of the incident, and have converged as a crowd in front of the couple’s residence. Some sympathetic neighbors comes to help the couple in this crisis. Police arrives and takes stock of the situation. They conduct their routine investigations, and takes the body of the boy for “postmortem.” The husband will have to report to Police Station in the evenings. A helpful neighbor, sensing it to be a complicated case, advises the husband to consult a reputed lawyer to prevent him from getting implicated in legal wrangling. When the husband goes to the lawyer, the lawyer exposes the husband’s false claims of treating the servant-boy as one of their family members.

When the deceased boy’s father comes to the couple’s house to take his son’s monthly salary, he receives the shattering news of his son’s demise from the other small boy working in the household. When the couple actually goes to meet the servant’s father, the man breaks down and naturally, is inconsolable. Some of the sequences are indeed very touching. When the deceased boy’s father has to stay that night in the couple’s house, the couple sets up a nice bed for him at night, full of warm quilt and thick mattresses. However, the boy’s father’s sentiments prevented him from availing of such luxury, and he said that he would like to sleep in the kitchen where his son was found dead sleeping.

Post-mortem gives verdict that the boy has died from carbon-monoxide inhalation. The boy had gone to a late night film show the previous night, and returned around midnight to the house. When he felt that it was cold, he went to sleep in the kitchen (normally he slept in the basement). There was no ventilation in the kitchen room, and the charcoal cooking item was dimly burning. Ignorant of the perils of sleeping without proper ventilation, the servant succumbs in his sleep. After the postmortem report, the boy is taken to the burning Ghat and set aflame.

The denouement sees the hapless father finally asking permission from the couple to return to his home in the village. Truly, an unforgettable film.

The supporting cast of Kharij had Charu Prakash Ghosh who played a conscientious lawyer. Sreela Mazumdar, another Mrinal favorite, has a small but significant role in the film as the helpful neighbor, who comes to the help of the couple in their hour of distress. The Director’s wife, Geeta Sen, does a cameo in the film as a helpful neighbor. Debotosh Ghosh had a memorable role in the film. Brief appearances by Sunil Mukherjee as a curious neighborhood onlooker featured in the sequences. The music for this film was scored by B.V.Karanth. Kharij was based on a story by Ramapada Choudhury.

Sen’s “Kharij” ( The case is closed ) won the special Jury Prize in 1983 at Cannes. Nitish Roy, the noted Art Director won the National Award for this film.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5



    , 15th June 2012

    Pradip Biswas, an acknowledged film scholar famous for seminal film-crits, an unflinching protégé of Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Theo Angelopoulos, in all fairness, pays his warmest tribute to Mrinal Sen, his mentor, a pantheon of pantheons, who turns 90 on 14th May 2012

    “It is the dialectical leap that is which is our main concern”: Mrinal Sen

    >>>>>(Visuals) of Mrinal Sen at his room. He is taking about how he feels about his film journey.
    >>>>>( Visuals) Mrinalda faces Camera and moving out of his room to his lobby and sits

    (Next Shot) Voice over: Mrinal Sen, the incorruptible optimist and heretic maestro of Indian Cinema, turns 90 on 14th May, 2012. Even in his spiraling age, he never seems intrigued by frailty or senility. Creativity is the first and last word for him. Proverbially, he is 20 now and will remain so for one thousand years. It is not a question of arithmetical configuration but a state of mind. I too am 20. For one thousand years I remain 20. Incidentally, the idea sounds like an oxymoron and I have no scruple to stick to it. This is my stand. I cannot say about others.

    (Voice Over) Camera focuses on Mrinal Sen
    >Voice Over
    >(Tally of 28 feature films in a life span is not hunky-dory. Much of sweating, hard labour, personal sacrifice have gone behind fashioning his empire of topical and aesthetic universe in which he and his undying works lie secure. Age matters not. That is why he could say: “Every day I feel like making a new film. Ideas pop up in my head. Let’s see when I can act on them.” He is an artist who strongly feels that as a social being he is committed to his own times. Since poverty, drought, famine and social injustices are dominant fact of his own times, he says, his “business as a filmmaker is to understand them”. According to Mrinal Sen: “I try to understand my own period, I try to put it across.”)

    To fashion a beginning at the beginning, we must recognize the fact that his third film Baishey Sravan, made in 1960, that Mrinal Sen came to his own. Based on a story by one Kanai Bosu, it tells a story about a middle-aged village hawker and his young bride and disintegration of their relationship in the context of the Bengal famine of 1943. It must be mentioned that Baishye Sravan remains a touching exploration of personal predicament that grows out of a larger tragedy outside the boundaries of the home. Says Mrinal Sen: “It was a cruel time and I wanted to make a cruel film”. Chronologically, Baishey Sravan, was followed by Punascha, Abasheshe and Pratinidhi where the director continued to explore and scan nuances of personal relationships, but this within an urban environment. While Punascha deals with a conflict that arises out of a woman’s shift from the traditional domestic role of wife to that of a contributor to the family income, and Abasheshe takes a lighthearted look at divorce Indian style. Pratinidhi, however, takes itself with the destruction of marital relationship in a society where social taboos play an invisible but dominant role.

    However, Mrinal Sen’s maiden attempt to abandon the conventional narrative for a snappier and more contemporary cinematic language. The break-point comes from Truffaut’s Four Hundred Blows and Jules and Jim in the year 1965. Says Mrinal Sen: “I was ecstatic. I was struck by the youthfulness in his approach. I was thrilled. I immediately jumped into a project of an incorrigible dreamer making desperate bid to break the wealth barrier, with sprawling city serving as a fascinating locale. Infected by Truffaut’s youthfulness, I went in for a film which would physically look youthful and would at the same time make a serious socio-economic point…Akash Kusum, with all its lapses and excesses, was an exciting experience”. The launch of the film stirred up heavy debates in the Letters to the Editor Column of The Statesman drawing Satyajit Ray into the fray. The great Ray due to personal insularity called it: “A crow film is a crow is a crow film”. We, the then angry youths, inspired by the left Bank ideology, drummed our voices for Akash Kusum and insolently spiked Ray’s glib remark. However, much, much later, down the years when this critic graduated into the access of the great Ray, we had a modulated view of Ray, almost ignoring his previous comment made two decades ago. The victory is : Ray indeed took a mellow view of Akash Kusum and nearly hailed it as “experimental work”. The reason being that the film squarely drew the public attention to its box-office response.

    >>> Next Shot: Visuals of Mrinalda speaking out his mind

    Camera capturing Mrinal Sen saying his views
    On Akash Kusum
    As a strong protégé of Mrinal Sen, I, as one of angry Jimmy Porters, want to take you to a terrain that Mrinal Sen owns, the terrain of huge creativity which no critic can encompass and scan to the extent of exploration to the brim. Therefore, I decide to broach Mrinal Sen, my perpetual mentor, on various issues relating to the art of the cinema, matrix of aesthetics, social association and political spectrum. For Mrinal Sen is a living legend who can be best explored in the mode I am taking below.
    >>>> On His Freedom
    In terms of making cinema, well, I go my own way for the simple reason that when I start a film I don’t really know myself what I am going to do, and I feel like growing on location while shooting, I feel like growing in studies while shooting. You know, I am not a Kurosawa, I am not a Satyajit Ray, I am not a Godard, who believe in drawing sketches and bringing everything on paper, for the simple reason that I can’t do that, I can’t even draw a straight line.
    >>>>> On His City Calcutta, El Dorado
    Calcutta is a city of glaring contrasts and that is me, restless, nervous, unpredictable, inimitable, infernal; and I have grown in this state of confusion, this chaotic situation. Calcutta excites me, Calcutta provokes me, Calcutta inspires me, Calcutta gives me a lot of intellectual food, Calcutta is something which irritates me and saddens me, Calcutta acts like a stimulant and as a provocation. Where ever I go, where ever I work, whether it is inside Calcutta or outside, even in the remotest part, of the South, or maybe In the North or in the West, I carry the spirit of Calcutta with: I call Calcutta my El Dirado.
    >>>> Mrinal Sen On His Films
    My first film Ratbhor, made in 1956, was a big disaster, the biggest of all big disasters. I hate to talk about it. Having made it I felt terrible. I felt humiliated.
    Nil Akasher Niche was my second film. The story dates back to the 1930s. It was over sentimental, technically poor, visually unsatisfying. But the one aspect of the film which I still stand by and find relevant even today is its political thesis which upholds the notion that the struggle for national independence is inseparably linked to the liberal world’s crusade against fascism and imperialism. This was perhaps precisely why, despite my own reservations about it, someone like Nehru appreciated the film.
    On Film Baishey Sravan
    Understandably, such a film can hardly be a financial success. Although it was failure a the box office,Basihey Sravan granted me a firm foothold in the world of cinema. I was recognized as a regular filmmaker. And, for reasons of my own, I henceforth made it a point to constantly break new ground, craft off the shackle of conformism and and evolve new modes of expressions. Risky propositions all, very risky. Even now. In every sphere, in any discipline..
    On Bhuvan Shome
    I realized the time had come to say something new, in a new style. The political environment had been changing since 1967. Cinema , at that time, in respect of structure, seemed oversaturated. So I tried to search for a new form. Bhuvan Shome had an element of fun which I believe was an extra advantage. Within its theme, a kind of social order emerged where nothing was changeable.
    I read the story of Bhuvan Shome in 1959 and have wanted to make it since then. I approached many Bengali producers, but all of them found that this could be only an interesting sequence in a longer film. And frankly, I was not sure how the film would turn out. After MATIRA MANISHA and its commercial failure, when I was sitting idle, I finally applied to the Film Finance Corporation for a loan. I got the loan and, with it, made this film. BHUVAN SHOME was made in 1969 and I have a feeling that it was a radical departure from my earlier films and also the usual kind of Indian films.
    I took it up as a kind of comedy which pokes fun at the morality which dominates our society, determines it, and continues to build on it. Our intention was never to tame a tough bureaucrat. On the contrary, our intention was to “corrupt” a bureaucrat suffering from Victorian morality. Towards the end of the film, the bureaucrat allows his corrupt subordinate to go back to work. The subordinate writes to his wife that he has been transferred to a station where there are more passengers and, consequently, more bribes. When this happens, we know that the tough bureaucrat has been defeated, has been corrupted.
    This defeat, this corruption of a bureaucrat was our intention, but we seem to have been misunderstood by many. They consider this film an attempt to humanize an essentially tradition-bound and corruptible bureaucrat. That was not our intention. There were all kinds of characters and possibilities, anything could happen. But ultimately nothing did. Thus with staccato movement or cuts, I designed the film in terms of attitude, in terms of editing. Moreover, there was the sheer delight of playing with the media. This was not meant to be a gimmick. This was a sort of deconstruction of forms.
    Bhuvan Shome was an ornithologist. To emphasize this aspect, animated birds were shown flying around his head. Further the opening and closing of files, swinging old doors, telephone calls, were also animated. I used mask shots to express the thoughts of Bhuvan Shome. I did not feel any difficulty transcending from this film to Interview though there was a major difference between the subjects. My efforts and objectives in these two films were similar. Who and what I am today is merely an extension of who and what I used to be. In fact, time is my most exacting mentor. I am always chased by my own time. I cannot escape it.
    On Interview, Calcutta 71, Padatik
    It was in the early 1970s that the very air in Calcutta seemed to crackle with anger. Anger and unrest. That was when I made three films in three successive years. They were justifiably angry and restless. And in varying degrees, both passionate and blatant. Here, when I sue the blatant I mean it and write it in a positive sense. That was when my team and I could not escape the pressure of our times. That was when we affirmed our condition of rebellion. All this perhaps reads like a pamphlet but that was our reality then.
    I made CALCUTTA-71 when Calcutta was passing through a terrible time. People were getting killed every day. The most militant faction of the Communist Party—the Naxalites—had rejected all forms of parliamentary politics. At the same time they had a host of differences with the other two Communist Party factions. These, in turn, led to many interparty clashes. Invariably all of the factions ignored the main issue of mobilizing forces against the vested interests—the establishment.
    This was the time when I felt I should spell out the basic ills of the country, the fundamental diseases we are suffering from and the humiliations we have been subject to. This was the time to talk of poverty—the most vital reality of our country, the basic factor in the indignity of our people. I wanted to interpret the restlessness, the turbulence of the period that is 1971 and what it is due to. I wanted to have a genesis. The anger has not suddenly fallen out of anywhere. It must have a beginning and an end. I wanted to try to find this genesis and in the process redefine our history. And in my mind this is extremely political. I found a continuing link in the film—a young man of 20, uncorrupted. He has lived this age of 20 for the last 1000 years or more. He has been passing through death and squalor and poverty. And for the past 1000 years or more he has bridged despair and frustration. For him the history of India is a continuous history not of synthesis but of poverty and exploitation.

    I know, so what I’ve focused on is not exploitation but poverty: how poverty debases human beings, disintegrates the whole pattern, the whole system. That is why I picked out five days spread out over 40 years. I took three or four stories of poverty: grinding, ruthless, unrelenting poverty, poverty that is not glamorous. We have always been trying to make poverty respectable, and dignified. This has been a tradition which has been handed down to us from generation to generation. You can find plenty of this in Bengali literature. As long as you present poverty as something dignified, the establishment will not be disturbed. The establishment will not act adversely as long as you describe poverty as something holy, something divine. What we wanted to do in CALCUTTA-71 was to define history, put it in its right perspective. We picked out the most vital aspect of our history and tried to show the physical side of hunger is the same. Over time, the physical look of hunger is the same.
    But there is a marked change in the people—their perception changes. In a way I call this the dialectics of hunger, the dialectics of poverty. How people move from resignation and from callousness to cynicism and being beaten-down, and anger and self-destruction and poverty, and finally to anger and violence which can become very creative in the process.
    This is what we wanted to say. Then like a Greek chorus this young man appears and tries to explain the situation and how at the end hungry people become violent and the process creates something new.
    On Film Padatik
    PADATIK has something to do with the contemporary political scene. You don’t have a free hand here. It is not possible for many reasons to be very candid about many things. But that doesn’t mean you’ll tell half-truths. Half-truths are perhaps more dangerous than lies. To my mind, I tried to analyze the political situation the way I felt it would be done. It could have been clearer but I felt that even this should be done. We had arrived at a point when the Left movement was lying low and the leftist parties were in disarray, losing perspective, and isolated, at a time when there was a need for unceasing self-criticism.
    That is why the protagonist in PADATIK has unshaken faith in the party, even though he has suffered reverses due to faulty direction. Yet he does question the leadership bitterly and uncompromisingly. Nonetheless, the fact remains that in our country, as elsewhere, you do have the leadership and to a certain extent even the cadres go the established way in order to fight the establishment. As the party fights the establishment, it falls victim to it. The party soon adopts the very mores and manners it has been fighting. This is what is happening to our party. This is why a lot of criticism is being taken up these days and there are so many factions even in the most extremist left party—in each of the Marxist variety there are a lot of factions. So any situation dealing with this is liable to be criticized and contradicted by some faction or other. But to my mind, it is important to raise these issues. It is detrimental, ruinous, and suicidal not to discuss these issues at all when you know there is something wrong somewhere, maybe in the cadres, maybe in the leadership, maybe somewhere else.

    On Conceiving Chorus

    ……all of a sudden an idea came to me once. Just once. That was in early 1974, when one day, on my way to Reserve Bank of India during the peak hours, I was struck with an unusual spectacle. Jobs were just a few. An unending, serpentine line of men and women, young and not so young, were waiting patiently, unmoved. It was a huge queue, the like of which I did not see before. I forgot about my appointment at the Bank and walked along the huge line of countless people, watching them, talking to them. I gathered they came from various districts to buy Forms to apply for jobs….all of a sudden an idea came to me once. Just once. That was in early 1974, when one day, on my way to Reserve Bank of India during the peak hours, I was struck with an unusual obs. Jobs were just a few.

    I set aside my personal work and rushed to a friend of mine Mohit Chattopadhyay, a college teacher and an eminent playwright, specializing in the theatre of the absurd. I told him about the spectacle and asked him, if he could collaborate with me on my next script. It could be huge crowd of thirty thousand or the double of the number or more waiting for days for application Forms to be collected from a particular counter of a well-protected fortress. Buying Forms from a single counter or two, and then depositing the same, Law and Order remaining dreadfully active all the time. And the applicants would turn violent and attack the impregnable fortress. The `Chairman’ of the fortress would declare Emergency.

    Mohit Chattopadhyay gladly accepted my offer and we two began to work on a satirical fantasy and called it Chorus. For right or wrong, the film got the President’s Golden Lotus and few awards in the foreign festivals, such as, a second Prize at Moscow Festival and before that, the Highest Diploma of the International Federation of Film Critics Association (FIPRESCI) , at the Prestigious International Forum in Berlin. One evening, an angry group came out of the city theatre and, identifying me at the foyer, rushed to me. They asked me if I could provide them with a subtitle print because the film was beyond their comprehension, the fantasy went over their heads. Such a reaction was not new to me, being so used to this encounter with constant sarcasm about my work. So I took it all as part of the game. But I wondered why I kept in check a beautiful line, which Lindsay Anderson, the maker of the remarkable film…If, a funny, bitter allegory, his all-time best, had earlier told me. He asked me not to forget that “today’s fantasy would turn to be tomorrow’s reality.” Lindsay was delightfully prophetic! So, I saw, here was my film, nowhere near Lindsay Anderson’s. Countrywide Emergency was declared on June 26, 1975.

    On Ekdin Pratidin
    Ek Din Pratidin marked the beginning of new phase career as a filmmaker and this phase lasted for quite few years thereafter. My main aims and concerns are remarkably unchanged even today. I am always trying to delve into the interior, into the realm which lies hidden behind the façade of the outside world; to discover mysteries, frustrations, confusions, contradictions, to identify the terrible sense of isolation, even emptiness and, of course, the hidden strength which lies behind this apparent despair. I think I had arrived at a moment of truth.

    On Khandhar/TheRuins

    To make a frank statement about myself, I had been having problems to find an idea to work upon. Nerve-wracking every time. Even now. Then, one day, in the middle of the night I woke up, and for about an hour couldn’t get to sleep again. I left my bed and walked into another room with a large wooden cabinet covering the wall next to the door. The cabinet was full of books. I pulled a chair, sat on it and kept looking at the books. One book in particular seemed to be staring at me — an anthology of short stories by Premendra Mitra, with a thinner volume of his poems by the side of his stories. I fixed my gaze at the book, carrying all lovely stories.

    I read one of them, a shorter one, over again, at that unearthly hour, read it for no reason, read it so many times in more than the last forty years — an all-time favourite of all readers. But all these years, I never thought it could ever be filmed. But that night, at that desperate hour, I read it again and again, and for the first time I read cinema hidden in its lines and hidden between the lines.

    For the first time, I discovered Telenapota in a manner which I didn’t do ever before. And strange,Telenapota (1941) like Marienbad of Alain Resnais and Alain Robbe-Grillet in their Last Year At Marienbad(1961) was a figment of imagination, unreal! The worlds, however, of Telenapota and Marienbad were vastly different, the latter situated far away, at an unreachable distance, or, to put it in another way, anywhere, nowhere. In the words of Alain Robbe-Grillet, the renowned writer of nouveau roman genre, who collaborated with Alain Resnais,

    Or, in my film, not in 1961, but in 1983, when with the lines of the text are replaced by the voice of a photographer, not of 1961’s angler, is heard as a monologue of sorts in his dark room:… when, all of a sudden, you are granted freedom for a couple of days , and you are lifted out of the urban tedium, when a gust of wind sweeps you away somewhere, far from the world, known and familiar, when time seems to have come to a stop, when a dear friend of yours comes and tempts you, then you too can take a trip along with him and another of your friends, to the ruins… Khandhar to photographer’s paradise. This is when and where our film starts. The change, therefore, between the text and the film is obvious.
    On Social Exploitation
    I know, so what I’ve focused on is not exploitation but poverty: how poverty debases human beings, disintegrates the whole pattern, the whole system. That is why I picked out five days spread out over 40 years. I took three or four stories of poverty: grinding, ruthless, unrelenting poverty, poverty that is not glamorous. We have always been trying to make poverty respectable, and dignified. This has been a tradition which has been handed down to us from generation to generation. You can find plenty of this in Bengali literature. As long as you present poverty as something dignified, the establishment will not be disturbed. The establishment will not act adversely as long as you describe poverty as something holy, something divine. What we wanted to do in CALCUTTA-71 was to define history, put it in its right perspective. We picked out the most vital aspect of our history and tried to show the physical side of hunger is the same. Over time, the physical look of hunger is the same.
    But there is a marked change in the people—their perception changes. In a way I call this the dialectics of hunger, the dialectics of poverty. How people move from resignation and from callousness to cynicism and being beaten-down, and anger and self-destruction and poverty, and finally to anger and violence which can become very creative in the process.
    This is what we wanted to say. Then like a Greek chorus this young man appears and tries to explain the situation and how at the end hungry people become violent and the process creates something new.
    On Nature of His Films
    I have been talking about the crises that have determined the nature of my films. If you look at my earlier films you would see that my concern was predominantly with the physical world. In my earlier films physical world dominates the scene, its rhythms, its contrasts, its grimaces and humour too, and along with the contradictions in which my characters shape themselves, destroy themselves and reveal themselves. At a certain point of time, I used to do a lot of shouting, talking about rebuilding, about the wonderful future which I thought must be round the corner. Perhaps, it was a simplistic approach, but for me it had its own passion, a very genuine passion. I derived all this from my own time, from the social and political reality which was dominant at that time. It was very much in the air.
    What interests me now is not the physical reality, which to me is soulless. I want to invest the physical reality with my sensibility, my own contemporary sensibility. Reality with a comment. But in its final shape it cannot be subjective. There are many versions of reality. And you have to destroy somebody’s version to establish yours. So with information. Unless information assumes a form, it is just news, ineffective.
    On Realism In Cinema
    Realism in itself is not an art. But there must be harmony between the genuineness of feeling and the genuineness of things. It is difficult to tell you in brief what I mean by realism. But all that I can say is that it is not possible to redeem the physical reality in terms of cinema. What you can do is to project your understanding of the reality. In other words, you cannot project a slice of reality physically on the screen. What you do this by lensing of a particular object, by the tonal and linear compositions that you create, is that you give a very impressionistic impression of the reality. That is what I also try to do. And I can only present my understanding of the reality, which may not be the same as yours. We may be exposed to the same reality physically, but when I present it on the screen, it may turn out to be different from somebody else’s understanding of the reality. The physical reality is controlled for me by own mental make-up.
    On Freaky Establishment
    I find two very important points on the subject.
    How is it and why does the establishment help me in making films which contain certain elements of criticism of the establishment and also a loving and sympathetic portrayal of anti-establishment practices, and (2) to what extent do such films help to build a radical political climate in the country among the people?
    Have I been able to go into the masses and am I credible? I have seen one thing from my experience. If you don’t like a film, you say it is a lousy film or that you don’t like it, and the matter ends there. In my films, I have found that people who have not liked them are still quite shaken up by them. I have found them to get angry and disturbed and walk out of my movies saying, “It’s an anti-social film.” I could see that the film has disturbed them to a certain extent, even annoyed them. This kind of reaction could not have been evoked by the standard Indian film. Even the critics who criticize me more than my films … they write that stuff and I feel that possibly I’ve made a point somewhere, somewhat differently and effectively perhaps. Otherwise, how is it that these people are provoked in such a manner? And this goes to prove that this kind of film—if we can create conditions whereby this genre of film continues to pour in one after the other—will be able to create a climate which will help the movement to grow and help develop a radical cultural climate. This is what I feel about it. After one or two films on this … it certainly helps. But to what extent a filmmaker is credible is difficult to answer. The fact remains that this has some effect. This is what I have gathered from even my most uncharitable critics.
    Why does the establishment come out to help me make such films? This is part of the bourgeois makeup. Take for example the International Forum of Cinema at Berlin, which is an overtly political film festival. You know this festival is run by some politically dedicated young filmmakers, film critics, and film aesthetes, but the money comes primarily from government sources. The organizers don’t mind. There is a kind of repressive tolerance among the bourgeois countries, which is a new kind of sophistication appearing within the system. I can assure you that it would have been extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, to make the kind of film we are making previously because of censorship. These days censorship has become wiser—they allow you to make such films and I believe they will continue to allow you to do so.
    These are cynical attitudes—talking about spending political passion. You can spend political passion in art but not everything goes to waste. Talk about a particular movement to obtain more food and to bring down the prices of essential food items. Say there is a very big manifestation and the matter is closed. For two years, nothing else happens. Do you think everything goes to waste? I don’t think so. The same applies to political theater and film.
    On Underground Cinema
    Does he think films can go underground in India? One way out of establishment control is perhaps making films in 16mm or Super-8. My perception is that with 16 mm and Super-8 you can have greater circulation and it is a wonderful medium because it is inexpensive and within your reach. Film no longer becomes an expensive proposition. The establishment which works within film tells you that film is a capital-intensive operation and therefore only they can finance it, and that is why they have to be concerned about a subject that will help return their investment. But you can attack this establishment by making films in 16mm and Super-8, and by doing so you can circulate more widely than in 35mm. But this will not help you go underground. You have to undergo the rigors of censorship. It is a must, you cannot escape it.
    On Asking Question To Audience
    Yes, I do that. But I also give the answers or suggest some answers. My films contain questions to the audience. What I have been doing for sometime now is to keep an open ending. I don’t want to rush to conclusions, because I find life to a large extent inconclusive. All that we can do is to analyze the situations so that the audience starts asking questions till they find an answer.
    On the Audience
    In this respect, it should go further. It should stay with the audience. That is why I feel that it is important for the audience also to take part in the creative activity. The director making a film should keep in mind that he has to give some clue to the spectator to help him to release the situation to his own experience. That is how in the theatre he becomes a creative agent. If a conclusion like that can be created, that is possible only when we make that kind of films and also when we find that kind of spectators- when a communion can be established between the creator and the spectator, then something else comes up. Then you present something to your spectator and the spectator also tries to relate to his experience, and the spectator may come to a certain kind of conclusion which may not be yours….
    On Conventional Script-writing
    Never. I can never write a script without that I am going to make a film of it. Once I choose a story and start writing the script, I often feel like a fool and think I should not have chosen it at all. There is tension. But I love tension. Tension keeps me young. Tension becomes a challenge. And that is how the script grows till ultimately it comes out to be something quite interesting. I keep on changing the script which merely serves as a guide- line.
    On Dialectics of Cinema
    It is the dialectical leap that is which is our main concern. You can’t escape dialectics, it is embedded in your thinking. As for the formal aspects of the cinema, I believe in trying it out with my tools, I mean the camera, the recording machine, and the subsequent post-shooting operations, including the montage, the mixing, and a whole lot of things. Well, I believe in trying it out with all this, the way a child does his building blocks, the way a poet does with his words, the way a footballer tries with the football, the way a painter tries with the brush. That is how I would like to work with my camera and the sound.
    On Identification of Class
    Well, I do identify with the class from which I come. It is the class of the underprivileged. But there again I confront a crisis. I am not the same man today that I was in the beginning. So I have to fight within my-self. A kind of duality exists. If you ask me if I have changed my lifestyle, I would emphatically say : no I haven’t. But then again I know I have changed, perhaps without my knowledge.
    On Decline of Quality Films
    I notice a decline in the quality of films in general. I can’t restrict it to competition, Bengal or India. It is a global problem. Creativity, courage and confidence are the prerequisites to quality cinema and these are in short supply. Perhaps the socio-political situation accounts for this. We are at a time when humanity has forfeited the right to die a natural death. Today, if two people disagree, they kill each other. Could anyone imagine that the dissolution of the Soviet Union would give rise to so many ethnic problems? Maybe we are scared to look at reality/ Maybe that is why cinema lacks a certain vitality.
    On Advice to the Newcomers of Cinema
    I would say only one thing to filmmakers walking into the world. Don’t think that this is the last film you will make. Keep some of your dreams alive for your next one. And keep away from the extremes. Cinema is not sleight of hand, guard against that. At the same time guard against the extremes personified Godard. Keep experimenting and prosper or perish. That is the only way I know of making films.
    On Optimism
    I say a clear no to fragile optimism. I confront, I fight, I survive on tension. And as I survive, I look beyond and I dream.


  2. Thank you Pradip Da for the wonderful piece. I really appreciate your posting it in my site. Regards

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