Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Om-Dar-Ba-Dar - a revisit and a few thoughts.

Last week, I managed to watch Kamal Swaroop's 1988 film 'Om-Dar-Ba-Dar'; after almost twenty years. Kamal was showing the film to some of his students in a school of architecture in Mumbai. The hall was petty much crowded when the film began; by the time the end titles rolled in, there were lots of empty chairs.

Not that the filmmaker minded it, I thought. Considering the filmmaking path that he has been walking, maybe he is used to it by now . In the discussion that followed, Kamal in his own subversive manner, narrated the non existent 'story' of the film and its 'meaning'. It was as 'meaningless' as the film itself.
The ability to comprehend a chair as a chair...
It takes some amount of discipline and practice to watch a movie without assigning any meaning to it. What meaning would one assign to a ‘collage’? What meaning would one assign to a ‘aalaap’? The manner in which Bhimsen Joshi sings a ‘Bhajan’ could be interesting than the meaning of the ‘Bhajan’ itself.

Is it possible to watch, hear and experience a film on such a level?

Can I, for example, appreciate the shot taking patterns found in ‘Om-Dar-Ba-Dar' just as I appreciate a straight line or a brush stroke? Or can I identify with the rhythmic edit patterns that are used in the film? Or with the sound patterns and the design employed in it?

Is it possible for me to construct a film on this basis – where the form itself is the content and the meaning, subsidiary?

‘The form as politics’, as Kamal Swaroop would say.