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Movie 4 d week : Pestonjee (1988)

Review by Vinoo
Language : Hindi (Parsi rather)
Director : Vijaya Mehta

‘Life is for living, not for complaining.’ says the cover to ‘Pestonjee’. Phirohshah aka Phiroj and Pestonjee aka Pesi (Anupam Kher) are the best of friends. They are almost like twins. There is no life without one another and they also hope to get married at the same time. Phiroj meets Jeroo (Shabana Azmi) and instantly falls in love with her. While he is awaiting a horoscope match he figures the woman Pesi is getting married to is Jeroo. Phiroj takes a vow not to get married. He spends the first few days with the wedded couple, being very intrusive right through. He gets to know from Pesi that Jeroo actually hates him. Phiroj’s love for Jeroo is complete. He decides the best thing to do is for him to stay away from Pesi and Jeroo. He gets transferred out of Mumbai but keeps in touch with Pesi and Jeroo through letters.

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The Digital Nikon F3 was world’s first DSLR


The Kodak Professional Digital Camera System or DCS, (unofficially named the DCS 100,) was the first commercially available DSLR camera. It was mounted on a Nikon F3 body and released by Kodak in May 1991. Aimed at the photo journalism market in order to speed up the transmitting of pictures back to the studio or newsroom, the DCS had a resolution of 1.3 megapixels. The DCS 100 was publicly presented for the first time in Arles (France), at the Journées de l’Image Pro by Mr Ray H. DeMoulin, the worldwide President of the Eastman Kodak Company.453 international journalists did attend this presentation that took place in the Palais des Congres of Arles.

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Movie 4 d week : Mar adentro / The Sea Inside(2004)

Review by Vinoo
Language : Spanish
Director : Alejandro Amenabar

Javier Bardem all the way. You can’t not fall in love with the man after watching this film. ‘The Sea Inside’ is the true-life story of Ramon Sampedro, a Spanish marine fisherman, rendered quadriplegic after a diving accident. He fights for thirty years for Euthanasia and his right to die with dignity. He did not want to live his life in the condition he was in : incapacitated from neck below, total loss of use of his torso and limbs.

Ramon : ‘Well, let’s see. I want to die because for me, living like this… is not worthy. I can understand if other tetraplegics could feel offended when I say life like this is not worthy.’

Ramon : ‘To accept the wheelchair would be like accepting breadcrumbs of what used to be my freedom.’

Ramon Sampedro is taken care of by his sister, her husband and his nephew. His father also lives with them and is witness to the plight of his son.

Joaquin (Ramon’s father) : ‘There is only one thing worse than the death of a son… that he wants to die’.
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Movie 4 d week : A time for drunken horses (2000)

Review by Vinoo
Language : Kurdish
Director : Bahman Ghobadi

The story of young Iranian Turks, five brothers and sisters, the youngest of who, Madi, is ailing. After the death of their father it becomes the responsibility of the kids, lead by the eldest 12-year-old Ayoub, to take care of Madi. Madi, who is physically challenged and is restricted to a height of one feet and pretty much a toddler’s communication skills, needs to undergo a surgery immediately to be able to even survive. To enable this Ayoub has to take up a job wherein he will take a horse with goods, truck tyres that is, across the Iran-Iraq border so he has enough money for the surgery. The route is dangerous and an enemy attack or attack by smugglers can’t be ruled out. Ayoub falls short of money to pay for his goods and his uncle gets his sister married off on te condition that the groom will get Madi treated across the border. All Ayoub wants is for her sister and her husband to take care of Madi, which the in-laws refuse. They give Ayoub a mule as compensation. Ayoub goes out all over again, with Madi this time, and while they are going across the border, with the goods, they get ambushed. The drunken horses refuse to move forward in the snow. Ayoub escapes with Madi across the border in the hope that life has something better in store for them on the other side. Things can’t get worse than they already are. One of my favourite scenes is the  one where tyres are rolling down the slope during the ambush. Here is the climax scene

Let me warn you, the film is unnecessarily tragic and reminds one of some our own films J but then, this is the first Kurdish film.

Bahman Ghobadi has also made films like ‘Turtles can fly’ which I found a little too melodramatic as also ‘A time for drunken horses’. ‘Life in fog,’ supposedly one of the most famous Iranian shorts, ‘Half moon’, ‘Marooned in Iraq’, etc. Hope to access his ‘No one knows about Persian Cats’ semi-documentary about the underground Indie music in Teheran. Hear some fab reviews of it.

And for those interested in the International Film Festival of Kerala, registrations are open. Last date 30 November 2010. See you there. Here is the link www.iffk.in

Useless trivia : This was the first feature film in Kurdish, a language banned in Iranian schools since 1940, to get an International release. ‘A time for drunken horses’ gets its title from getting the horses drunk to beat the cold when having to go across the border. ‘A time for drunken horses’ is supposed to be a remake of Ghobadi’s own short-film ‘Life in fog’.

NB : There is a move towards privatization of FTII. A research agency has suggested they need to make profits or something to that effect. To put it in our filmi language parlance “Yeh research agency log to saale, maa ko bhi bech denge”. FTII has itself to blame partly for letting things get to this stage but i gather the privatization move has been defeated. Anyways I’d rather let you read and figure for yourselves. Make what you can of it here :

Urgent Petition from the Students’ Body, FTII


What Does FTII Mean To You

An excellent initiative by the Students’ Body

Urgent Petition from the Students’ Body, FTII

This is an urgent plea for help and support to save The Film and Television Institute of India.

Under the neo-liberal policies of the present government, the institute is in grave danger of being re-structured as a public private partnership. By trying to make FTII ‘self-reliant’ and even ‘profit-making’, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is going against the very grain with which the institute was founded under the Nehruvian idea of nation building. If FTII is run by private agencies they will transform the institute from an art school into an institution primarily aiming to churn out technicians for the industry. In the process the fees will also drastically increase. The cumulative result is that FTII will not only cease to be the free space of creative expression it was intended for, but also become unaffordable by a vast majority of the Indian population.

We feel that with these alarming policies the government is shirking one of their primary responsibilities to nurture learning, and make this learning is accessible to all sections of society. If anything the priority of these state institutions, we feel, should be to cater to those segments of society that do not have other options and cannot afford the fees in private institutions. The direction the government seems to be taking, however, seems to be exactly the reverse in effect – making it elitist and capitalist.

We are doing everything we can to generate public opinion, trying to raise awareness through the press, street plays and campaigns in film festivals, on-line petitions, letter writing campaigns, getting the support of eminent writers, academicians, artists, filmmakers, etc. We are also trying to join forces with other student-bodies around the country to raise the very important questions of whether government funded educational institutes should be handed over to private public partnerships, the absurdity of expecting government educational institutions to be profit generating, and how if the fees increases it denies a majority of the public the very possibility of having quality education.

We would be most grateful if join us in this struggle. It would be a great help if you could send us a letter expressing your support for this protest (you could do this by e-mail, addressed to ftiistudentsbody@gmail.com) as well to the Ministry (which you could send by the post, addressed to Ambika Soni, The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Shastri Bhavan, Delhi).
Please also add your signature to our on-line petition.
Do forward this message to everyone you know.

Thanking you very much for your
interest, concern and support!

The Students’ Body, FTII

For more information and regular updates, do also visit our blog here.

Movie 4 d week : Nine hours to Rama (1963)

Review By Vinoo

Language : English

Director : Mark Robson

‘Nine hours to Rama’ ‘The murder that changed the lives of millions!’ goes the baseline. This is the story of the build up to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. It tells the story from Nathuram Godse’s (played by Horst Buchholz) point of view. This is not a great film but worth a watch for the different point of view it depicts. Based on the book by Stanley Wolpert the title refers to the nine hours in the life of Rama (Ramachandra ‘aka’ Nathuram Godse) before the assassination of Gandhi, and how Godse planned the entire thing. I found J S Casshyap who plays Gandhi irritatingly preachy but then I would presume that is how it would seem now J. The movie shows one man’s resolve to finish off Gandhi and another man’s, Inspector Gopal Das’, resolve not to let it happen, and another man’s, Gandhi’s, resolve to well… die. The film has some characters built in, like Rani who Godse is in love with. He is also an alcoholic, written in seemingly to give him an almost ‘Hollywood villain-like’ character.

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Movie 4 d week : About Elly (2009)

Review written by Vinoo
Language : Persian
Director : Asghar Farhadi

Sepideh invites Elly, her daughter’s kindergarten teacher, on a holiday with three families and their kids at a beachside resort. Elly is not initially aware that Sepideh’s real agenda is to set her up with her cousin Ahmad who is just back from a break up with his German? wife. Elly wants to go back home as she has not informed her mother of a long break. While she is walking by the beachside the kids are playing in the water. One of the kids gets washed away and is luckily washed back to the shore. Simultaneously Elly goes missing. The kids are not able to clarify if Elly did go after the drowning boy and drowned herself in the process. Gradually Sepideh’s husband tries reaching Elly and figures her mobile phone is hidden in Sepideh’s bag. This leads to suspicion and Sepideh is forced to reveal all. Elly’s engagement to a man she doesn’t like and that Sepideh was only trying to help her out of a bad relationship by fixing her up with Ahmad. Cheating on a man she is engaged to is tantamount to an illicit relationship in Iran. Suddenly the entire group turns against Elly. Sepideh asks what if Elly drowned trying to save your kid. Elly turns from good to bad to good in the eyes of the family members. The film culminates with Elly’s fiancé landing up at the beachside resort and at the same time Elly’s body is washed ashore. You are not let in on whether she drowned trying to save the kid or if she committed suicide unable to solve the dilemma of being stuck in a relationship she does not want and a liking she develops for Ahmad. The change in human relationships over minor incidents is handled brilliantly. Also you don’t realize what really happened to Elly but you are glued to the story like you are part of it all. Every scene seems to reveal a bit of the story but you figure it really doesn’t, not even at the very end. Quoting Ahmad from the film “A bitter ending is better than an endless bitterness”. Aye!
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Book 4 d week : The Return

(review by Vinoo)
Author : Joseph Conrad
‘The Return’ is apparently Joseph Conrad’s tribute to Henry James, and his style of writing. It was made into a film ‘Gabrielle’. Conrad’s other works include ‘The Heart of Darkness’ (yet to read that one), ‘Sabotage’, (made into a movie by Hitchcock), ‘The Secret agent’ (also a movie) etc. Conrad famously said “Those who read me know my conviction that the world, the temporal world, rests on a few very simple ideas; so simple that they must be as old as the hills. It rests, notably, among others, on the idea of Fidelity.”
I haven’t read too many of Joseph Conrad. I liked this one and I would presume this one is different from the rest of his books. ‘The Return’ is a peep into the complexities and insecurities of human relationships. Half the book is about Alan Harvey revisiting his life and reasons why his wife left behind a letter the way she did and the rest is plain, lovely conversation and analysis of emotions triggered by an act, in this case a letter left behind by his wife.
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Book 4 d week : All The Names

Author : Jose Saramago

by Vinoo

All The Names

All The Names

Jose Saramago has been really a find for me. Be it ‘Blindness’ from where I recall ‘Blind people don’t visit an Ophthalmologist’, ‘The year of the death of Ricardo Reis’, ‘Death at intervals, ‘The Cave’ (yet to finish reading), ‘The gospel according to Christ’ (reading) and the brilliant ‘The Double’. Also read Alberto Moravia’s brilliant ‘Time of desecration’ and short stories ‘More Roman Tales’. Alberto Moravia, Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Italo Calvino  for another day.

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