“Cinema should contribute to the total development of man, both as an individual and as a social being”

[Motion picture academy of Kerala state]

Picasso’s Guernica

A film is being screened in Kesav’s classroom. He is sitting in the dark room along with his classmates (B.A. Film studies, 1st year). The film’s director is also sitting in the same classroom. He is an Indo-Canadian film director who presently resides in Hyderabad. As part of taking his latest film ‘D’ to its ‘specific’ audience, he has been visiting universities and film schools for the past three months. In fact he is a famous film director who has a Wikipedia page. Today he is in ‘S’ college of media studies with film studies’ students. He will be interacting with the students after the screening.

The film has been rolling for one hour. Kesav hasn’t understood or identified with anything yet. He remained quiet, assuming that his friends are extracting so much from those visuals. The man on-screen is drinking coffee. He takes a sip and appears to be  thinking deeply about something. Sip, think, sip, think, sip .No other act different from this appeared on the screen for about five minutes.

 Kesav slowly walked out of the room, went directly to the canteen and ordered a cup of coffee.

 

“Good art is done with enjoyment. The artist must feel that, within certain reasonable limits, he is free, that he is wanted by society, and that the ideas he is asked to express are true and important.” – John Ruskin

Kesav read these lines which he had noted down in his pocket-book.

After sipping the last drop of coffee, Keshav returned to the classroom.

“Wasn’t anything else shown all this time. I went down, had a cup of coffee and am back. Still this man on-screen hasn’t finished his coffee?

“This is the second glass macha” 

Arun replied.

“Oh, I see. Did you understand anything so far, Arun?”

“Sshhh ! Keep quiet! The director is just behind us. Don’t insult him. Let’s wait and watch. I think something interesting will hit the screen soon. This film is said to have won two to three prestigious awards. Wait and watch “

But nothing much happened on-screen for another 10 minutes.

“Either the cameraman forgot to stop recording or the director forgot to say cut. One of these surely happened while they shot this. What is this lengthy shot all about?”

“Hey wait, something interesting might come”

Everyone continued to watch the film expecting a twist somewhere. Exceedingly lengthy shots kept on rolling. No one followed anything.

Suddenly, that ‘interesting’ bit of the film appeared – the credits list.

“Wow! Wonderful”

“So what was the one-and-a-half hours all about?”

“Kesav, why are you quiet”

“Haha, I think he has understood it from head to toe”

Students whispered among themselves.

“Switch on the lights please”

Mr. Subramanian, (HOD, film studies) said.

“Dear students, now it is time for some interaction. You may want to ask our beloved guest Mr. K about various aspects of the film. Over to you!

There was deafening silence in the room for nearly three minutes.

 

 Suddenly one hand shot up.

“Yes!  Come on Kesav! Mr. K  is waiting to hear from all of you. “

The HOD said in ‘relief’.

“Sir, what is your take on art for art’s sake?”

 

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PHEW!

Do you identify with Kesav? Perhaps you must have felt similarly like Kesav at some point of time watching ‘great’ works of art. If not, I will give you a chance.

 

Each of the above art work was painstakingly created with so much of effort and time.

“I had no kids when I embarked on ‘D’. By the time I completed it, I was the father of three children”

Mr. K said before screening ‘D’.

But unfortunately they fail to communicate to common man. Such art directly get a space in museums but not in people’s mind. The creators escape the question of social responsibility by uttering the much acclaimed MGM-phrase.

Art for art’s sake

Further, explaining this, they say that art is not meant to be didactic; it is ‘auto telic’. But it is time that they realize that their art is highly didactic. In fact it is completely didactic. That is why we often come across it in art-textbooks. See how ‘didactic’ that art is when it turns into a textbook for beginners/students to learn the basic ‘rules’ of art which they break later, to explore the magical field of wisdom.