Time Is Another Name Of Love

Love is about memories and rememberence. Love is also about knowing Saba - the 'suchness of things'. Time is the medium where Saba is recorded. Yet, at the same time, Saba is the 'imprint of time' on things and beings. When one truly gets over the fear of time, then he/she can say that "I am in Love" or "I am alive". Love is the true unconditional existence.

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Location: Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India

I believe in Love

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Back in the Academy

From 22nd of this month I am in the academy, assessing the continuty excercise of the students and developing the structure of cinematography syllabus in detail. It made me think of my own continuity excercise. In it, 'Heart Beats 24 Times per Second' I have even mixed live action with the screen image!... yes I did follow the screen direction :-) when I moved on to the stage and moved in front of the screen!!

Back to the student films in LV Prasad Film & TV Academy. This was the first excercise the students did with actors. So they also felt it like their 'first film'. Most of the films I liked eventhough one was looking out for mistakes!!

What a difficult thing to do, judging other peoples work :-(

All this made me think on our own acceptence of other people's criticism of our work. How many of us genuinely accept other person's views? Very rarely in the first instance. At first we will try to defend our position with all possible arguments, though we know that the other person is well meaning and he has a sound logic in his view points. May be after two three days we will accept the other persons view! But rarely we will confirm it with him!!

Well, at least we cinematographers have a relatively objective analysis of our own work. I may be wrong in assuming this :-) Probably that is why on many occassions we are also able to step in for 'clash works', for fellow cinematographers. Or even two or more cinematographers working for the same film. When I worked with Shri. Mangada Ravi Varma, in Adoor's "Nizhalkuthu" it was a very fullfilling experience. I am sure even Adoorji enjoyed working with us two cameramen in the film, so that he duely gives credit to both of us :-)

It was the same with working in Fazil's "Manichitra Thazhu". Venu, Anandakuttan and myself worked in the same film as cinematographers! Of about fifteen days I worked in the film, I ended up shooting with three directors in the same film - Priyadarshan, Sibi Malayil and Fazil himself!! Well this film had two units parallely shooting in the same location, and five directors [the other two were Siddhiqe Lal duo] working univocally under the guidence of Fazil.

I must admit that such experiences are rare but very enriching. Many people do not beleive that such efforts and accomplishments are possible. Well, at least in Malayalam Film Industry, such nice co-operation among the fellow technicians and artists do happen. I do wish that it will be so in the future too.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Indian Railways? Yes...

This is just to tell you that I received my train ticket [which I booked online] today morning. That was less than 48 hrs after I booked it!. Considering that it came from Delhi, that is an achievement for our Railways. So take note of the web address were you can book your ticket from home, spending less time and effort. For me it was even economically cheaper, I mean instead of spending Rs. 50/= for auto and 40 minutes, I got it for Rs. 40/= and 10 minutes... :-)

www.irctc.co.in [Indian Railway Catering And Tourism Corporation Ltd.]

Friday, November 18, 2005

Truth as Falsehood

The day after my violence, I came down from the hostel to canteen by around 11am. By then I was feeling guilty of what I have done. I think the department had no clue about why or who did such a thing. Hanging around canteen, I gathered that VK Murthy [then director] and John Shankaramangalam [then Dean] were on a fact finding mission and already questioned many others whom they thought must have done this 'criminal' act. I remember vaguely that one of the students questioned was my dear friend Sudhanshu Mishra. {Susu are you listening from out there? Thinking of Sudhansu also brings in the memories of Uma... How is life out there?}

By, lunch time I became more remorseful and wanted to go in to the directors office and confess that I have done the wrong doing. Finally I gathered the courage and went to the director and dean and confessed to them that I am the real culprit. Surely, they did not beleive it!! I still don't understand why they thought I am telling a lie!! They told me to report to them later. So finally what happened was amazing! They really thought that I was deleberately owning it up to save someone else!! Due to their own convictions about me, to accept that 'Sunny' did the 'wrong doing' was also impossible for them. Finally they have written off the case, and let me go free!! if only they have seen me at nights at the partys in the hostel... :-)

So what is knowledge? What is truth? Isn't it Godard who said that "Cinema is truth 24 times per second" ?

Waves and Trains 2

Before I go into the confession story, let me share some random thoughts on film editing, triggered by 'The Conversations'. At one level film editing is all about guiding the audiences attention on the screen... Guiding the 'anchor point' of their looks etc. And sometimes I think that, the ordering of image is also part of the creation of image. Well, I am not rationalizing my jump from editing to cinematography, :-) but merrily cherishing the interconnectedness of cinematography and editing.

I also wondered about the Lumiere's train during my journey. Thinking about how strong the impact must have been when the first audience were jumping out of the window, or crouching under the chairs in 1895, witnessing the 'arrival of train'. Is it possible to create such wonderous feelings in cinema today? I must confess that when I saw people flying in the sword fights in "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" or in the lake scene in "Hero" it was a child like wonderful experience. Well you also feel such wonder, when playing the internet game 'Second Life'.

To a certain extent the knowledge about any thing takes away the wonder from it. Actually, every youngster today think that he/she is a film maker. Of 5ooo odd registrations in IFFK, about 3500 claim that they are film makers!! So today we have to actually cater to a new kind of 'film-maker viewer'. Talking about knowledge brings me to a question... How do we know? - or is it "How do we know?" or is it "How do we know?" or is it "How do we know?" Narayana Guru says that when one becomes the knowledge itself, transcending the duality of knower vs knowledge, that is the ultimate experience of non-dual/oneness.

Sometimes, correctly presented truth will also be percived as a falsehood, like what happened with my glass breaking adventure. :-)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Waves and Trains

Last monday I was in Kannur [north Kerala] scouting locations for a short film which I will be shooting in the first week of December. Our main location is an old fort by the sea-side. There was some rennovation work going on and it was interesting to note the marks of passage of time imprinted on that area. On the seaside edge, I was looking over to the sea and into the waves for a long time. But, it is so strange that I never thought about the 'tsunami' when I was near the sea.

On the way back to Trivandrum in the train I was reading 'The Coversations' - conversations of such depth and magnitude on the art of film editing with Walter Murch. [I always secretly imagined that I am a better editor than a cinematographer :-)]. I recently met Bhanumurthy sir at the LV Prasad Academy. And he alone is the man responsible for me becoming a cinematographer. May be, now I must put it in writing why I selected cinematography for specialization after doing three weeks of specialization in editing [which was my original choice]. Well, one day I was sitting under the wisdom tree and suddenly Bhanumurthy sir comes near me and offers a seat in cinematography!! That was so strange because it was never done. I was really reluctant to change, because somehow, this was a compomise on my orginal plan to do editing and then do the post diploma in direction. But, Bhanumurthy sir was so convinced about my future and so he was also able to convince me about it.

If I remember correctly, one day I just stopped going to editing class, and cut, I was in the cinematography class. It was rather a jump cut. I still wonder about how Rao sir thought about my 'betrayal'!! Actually it took some time for me to reconcile with myself. During that period of angst I even became very violent!! To the extant that one day I got very drunk and in the middle of the night went to cinematography department and pulled down all the notice boards and broken the glass panes. I was crushing those glass panes with my feet. And nobody saw me doing this. I still have a scar on my right foot... Next day...

Before that, talking of trains, today for the first time I reserved a train ticket via internet and got it confirmed. So far so good!!

Anyway what happened next day at the institue after the night of my adventure was unlikely!! That is the story of a confession which ends up in an anticlimax :-)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Mirror of Love 2

When I presented Aravindettan's 'Vasthuhara' at the FTII, I was talking of Vasthuhara as an example of a 'mirror of love'. What does it mean? I believe that any creative expression of an artist, from music to literature to painting to drama to dance to cinema is an attempt primarly to show the lacunae of life-supportive/life-nurturing qualities in our life, especially of love. Art by its mystical power, whenever shows an absence, makes us feel the desire for its existence. Conversly it also projects a desirable harmonious beauty which is not present today. Please remember that 'beauty' not necessarly always denote only the beautiful. For me, when there is a balance achieved, or resolution made even after a chaotic conflict, there is beauty. 'Beautiful' also does not always mean to negate the not-beautiful/ugliness.

A beautiful person of character may be ugly-looking physically. The compassion generated by a photograph [ex. photo of the girl burned by napalm bombs] or by a cinema [ex. Night and Fog] liberates the viewer and makes his/her heart yearn for a society where such things never happen. That yearning is a distilled occurrence of beauty - the source of creation. That is why Dostoevesky says: " Beauty will save the world" Even the 'anger' felt by a viewer after watching 'Hearts and Minds', is of 'beautiful' in its roots.

In fact a 'mirror of love' more often needs to show the ugly and the marginal. Striving for beauty or an ideal, questing for the truth and focusing the spirituality of our being does not mean that we shun our immediate reality and all questions related to it. In fact a 'hightened awareness leads us to the very 'here' and 'now' of our daily existence. I am empowered with a new vision, a new hearing and a new touch with which I take part in this very fight of our existence and resulting realization. The very existence of mine interconnected with my neighbours and the multitude of unseen humanity. Within this trancended spirituality, making of a film and completion of an image becomes 'an act of love' as Truaffat said about film making. The work of art becomes a testimony to the artist's ultimate faith in humanity's salvation. Here lies the posibility the cinema to become a unifying, life-nurturing force in our disintegrating world. Such a possibility makes a film, a "Mirror of Love".

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Mirror Of Love

When one of my classmates [6th std] told me that there was a temple at Kalavomkodam, little away [3km] from my home where there is a "MIRROR" installed by great Narayana Guru in the sanctum sanctorum instead of any statue of a God or Godess, I was very eager to visit this temple. I remember going to the temple and seeing that mirror inside the sanctum sanctorum. This was the most defining moment in my life. All my interest in Indian philosophy and my urge to learn about Narayana Guru, later meeting Guru Nithya, all this has the root in this visit. Or does this visit happened only many years later when I visited the "Kannadi Prathishtta" with Swami Ascharyacharya?

The 'guru parampara' [lineage] from Narayana Guru continued with Nataraja Guru and to Guru Nityachaithanya Yathi and now with Guru Muni Narayana Prasad. Ascharyacharya was also a disciple of Nataraja Guru. Nataraja Guru wrote the 'memorandum of association' of the 'World Government' established by Garry Davis [www.worldservice.org]

So when I started learning the philosophy of Narayana Guru, it was very clear to me that all philosophies, all art and living itself, everything, as an expression of 'love', which was the essence - the heart and soul of God.

I was planning to make a documentary at that time [1983] on the vision and philosophy of Narayana Guru. I anchored my script in and around the 'mirror installation' and named the film "The Mirror Of Love". From this point to the understanding of cinema as a mirror of love, is all about my journey in life so far. I am always facinated to think of cinema as a mirror of love. Yes, cinema's role in the midst of human beings are destained to be more than an industry or a medium of entertainment. I am sure cinema's growth as an art form is directly connected to the spiritual growth of man and his ultimate understanding of time and reality. - to be continued

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Mirrors and Reflections 2

Becoming a projectionist was the third ambition in my life. Which immediately filled within me a transformed urge to become a film maker. Yes, by my 10th standard [1972] I have decided to join FTII. Those days in my dreams I would see myself wearing a 'mundu' [dhoti] and directing the cast! he.. he.. If I remember correctly from the first year of my degree classes only I started wearing 'pants and shirt'. And what shirts I used to wear!! I am sure that for 1972 it was ultra-modern. I still remember two shirts vividly - one a bright red with different shades diffusing within and with merging yellow and dark islands scattered all over the red. The second shirt would look like made of a news paper sheet. That was a hit at college :-) [my first ambition in life was to become a priest, secondly it was to become a magician]Coming back to the profession of a projectionist, the most important skill to learn was to bring in the carbons to the right positions as it is burned and moreover adjust the 'mirror' of the projector very delicately so that you get an even illumination across the screen. I was very pround of the projections I did because there weren't many cat calls from the viewers due to any un-even illumination on the screen.I still feel the knobs of the 'Devi' projector and its matte green colour. And i fondly remember my projectionist guru, Rjappan Chettan. He was a very kind person who allowed me to learn from his vast knowledge of the art of projection.It is amusing to look back at the mirror connections in my life!! Its finality was my recognition of cinema as a 'mirror of love'. When I presented Aravindettan's 'Vasthuhara' for the film-appreciation students at FTII in 1992, I presented the film as an example of my idea of 'mirror of love'. And where did this idea of 'mirror of love' come from? That again is related to one of my most intense and defining experiences during my boyhood days in Cherthala, my native town. Another mirror story. - to be continued

Friday, November 11, 2005

Mirrors and Reflections

When I was a boy [12yrs old], one of the toys I used to play games with was something which I have discovered myself! Nothing but a simple mirror. My game too was a simple one. I used to place the mirror at my waist-level and walk around the house looking into it!! What an incredible thrill it used to give me... as if I am walking upside down hanging on the roof. It was as if I could alter the reality!

Before this play with mirror, when I was studying in 6th standard, I had another use for the mirror. That was to direct a parrallel beam of sunlight into the water filled electric bulb [which was part of a makeshift 'magic lantern' made by my own hands] placed inside the darkened room to projcet that very precious 'film frame' which I collected from the local cinema theatre - Bhavani Theatre...

Behold, there was these black and white images of stars from popular malayalam films of sixty's looming out into the whitewashed wall of my room. That was pure magic... probably, for the first time I was also falling in love with those images. Possessing those little pieces of celluloid made me feel like a king... I used to have 'projections' for other kids in the neighbourhood too. It was no wonder that my first occupation in cinema industry was of a projectionist, when I was 16 years old... - to be continued

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Once upon a time

As I breathe into this new world of blogs, I am very skeptical about its fruitfulness. Yet, the beauty of the unknown pulls me into this. I am remembered of my Guru's words, "Aakarshikunnavan Krishnan. Ramippikkunnavan Raman." [Guru Nitya Chaythanya Yathi] Translated roughly it means that "That which attracts you to this world is Krishna and that which involves you in this world is Rama."

A blog has the same quality of attraction and involvement.

So, like millions of others, here is a being trying to reach out to many others. But if we truly follow our ancient knowledge, that attempt itself is a flawed proposition. Because it assumes that the one and many are different entities. It is not to be true.

So does the internet and all this blogs a game of Maya?

Who knows? But, in another way, internet also gives us a glimpse of the interconnectedness of our world. The one and only Earth and its inhabitants.

So how can the internet be an agent of unification and seperation at the same time? Or like Marx once said of 'money', is it only an agent of seperation?

I beleive that Internet isan agent of unification, which will truly make our world a ONE WORLD.