Why I love independent cinema

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Some of my favourite movies are independent films, which many of my friends either haven’t watched or feel bored by. But these films have helped me reflect and relax during some difficult times, and have lent my diary multiple helpful quotes and songs. Today, as I finished re-watching Paterson after an exhausting day, I felt like sharing some of my observations about independent cinema or cinema in general. And why it works, at least for me.

  • The way conversations are shot
    The use of wide shot in conversational scenes makes them more immersive, as opposed to the usual back and forth manner where you see only one of the actors’ faces at a time. As a viewer, you also have the body language to draw from, apart from just the dialogue.
  • Rhythm and editing
    While I understand why some people may find the rhythm to be off, I feel that there are more layers to how an indie or short film is cut. As you reach the end, the switch-overs, in many ways, inform why you arrived where you arrived. Some directors even shoot the movie sequentially so that the actors’ performance can grow with their characters and the story. I hereby plead guilty of watching too many film festival interviews!
  • Little hints written into the script
    I like how tiny character details and references are written into the script. Sometimes they are as simple as the colour of the scarf that the protagonist would wear. And music is almost like another character in the movie! What’s more is how these little details not only aid storytelling but also seem to seamlessly coalesce into rich characters. And the place and time references have sent me on many a ‘history  hunts’ on the web.
  • Sum of parts
    The slice-of-life narrative allows the story to take a more natural shape since the entire plot doesn’t revolve around one big event that happens either in the beginning or the end of the movie. Much like life itself, it’s a series of events, a sum of parts that make up a whole.
  • They’re all different
    Indie films are subtly funny, heartbreaking without being mawkish, fairly precise and yet universal. Although I have observed these commonalities in most of my favourite movies, there are, of course, many unique aspects in every one of them. It’s also weird that I relate to them differently every time I watch them!

Independent cinema has made me look for the details and fall in love with the art of storytelling and film-making. As Sister Sarah says in Lady Bird, maybe love is the same thing as paying attention.

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Image courtesy of pixabay.com
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Pain

 

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“The pain is smart enough to poet out a space, where bruises are verse and rhymes are moans, over and over again.”

Tiffany McDaniel, The Summer that Melted Everything

photo by Stefano Pollio, courtesy of unsplash.com
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Travel Diaries: Laxmi Ashram, Kausani

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Dharti hai ek,
Aasmaan ek hai.
Phool hain anek,
Baghbaan ek hai.

All the squeaky voices, hushed conversations, and noisy banters were replaced by a mellifluous chorus as I sat down in the back of the classroom. Morning prayers at Laxmi Ashram, as I found out, are always unifying affairs, and down-the-line cheerful and cathartic.

Forty five minutes previous I was tossing Imli toffees in my mouth to prepare myself for the ensuing altitude sickness. I was going to hike to a seven-decade-old, all-girls residential school run on the principles of Gandhi’s Nai Taleem. Established in 1946 by Catherine Mary Beilman or Sarla Behn to empower rural girls and women through education and holistic skill-based learning.

When I reached the Ashram, there were two smiling faces, waiting. Waiting to open me up to a world of simplicity and unity. To show me how empowered and independent young girls go on to become pillars of strength for the rural community.

I was a bit late, thanks to the multiple stops I’d made during the hike. Some girl students were collecting their books while others had already started ascending the stairs to their classroom. I entered the room from the back, and quietly sat on the floor like everybody else. I was soon going to hear them sing a prayer song that would footprint my heart.

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I left the place humming a tune of togetherness, and optimism. Of a song that distilled in a few words this beautiful message:
There is one Earth. And it is but one sky that canopies the flowers on its face. The flowers may look different, still there’s but one Gardner who looks after all of them.

My Recent ‘Feels’ Playlist

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When it comes to music, my song picks end with anything that has strong lyrics. A song that marries the sensation it evokes with the emotion it comes from sticks to my playlist for a long time. This may be because of that thing about music – it connects, makes you feel less lonely. So, today I decided to list down a few such songs; I call it my ‘feels playlist’ as it has the power to soothe my melancholy and elevate my joy.

Nostalgia: The songs that disinter the sweet moments.

Journey: Companions for when the going gets tough.

Perseverance: For me, these songs are like anthems that obviate the blues.

The Rationals: These songs can work wonders to kill the din and clutter of a bad day from your mind.

Happy listening!

Midnight snacking

In a dusty corner of a small mezzanine is a scrap of paper scribbled with poetry. Sea Fever by John Masefield – is a friend that is around when it’s  hard to sleep. So here goes:

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
                                And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

Possibility

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Every day she hiked up to her favorite spot, twining about the chartreuse green path she knew so well as a child. There she dreamed about all the things she wanted to be. There she waited till the swollen red Sun dived between the hills just like it did in the waves of the sea, in her dreams, that she wished to cross one day. There she lay on her back, staring at the leaden sky that she craved to light up with a million stars one day. There she yodeled, escaping the yokes of a cruel society. There she read her books, and played noughts-and-crosses, always winning against her own self that deviously thwarted her. For a while she forgot the way to her sanctum, only to return one day—to a sky clear and solitary, and a day full of possibility.