Friday, December 11, 2009

“Sets Shouldn’t Appear Lit.” Bollywood Are You Listening?

"Yeh, kya hai boss?" I ask the corpulent man sitting on a plastic chair outside New Empire. (What is this boss?)

"Yeh, vanity van, hai," he answers. (This is a vanity van, used by actors.)

"Koi shooting chal raha hai?" (Is a shooting going on?)

"Han, Veetee mein shooting chal raha hai." (Yes, a shooting is going on in Veetee.)

So this is a vanity van? I have never been to a shooting except when I walked into a set which was set right in CBD Belapur station, from which I was shooed off. It looked like the opulent resting place of an actor of some high pedigree. It set off a trend of thought.

That trend of thought goes something like this: What is it that makes our movies – meaning Bollywood movies so obvious. As I surf channel, if I come across an over-lit, over-made-up, over-colourful set and characters over-hamming their part without a trace of shadow anywhere, I know it is a Hindi film. Even a sunny garden is lit with tens of reflectors, so that the over-made up heroine is made to look like a doll frying in an oven. (I know there are exceptions; some like "Taare Zamin Par," but exceptions prove the rule, isn't it?)

I watched a prominent south Indian cinematographer's interview on television. He had won several awards, and what he said struck me as very important: "A set should not look lit." Meaning – for our Bollywood folks – a set shouldn't appear over-lit as they are prone to do. I am a student of cinema - and an avid cinema watcher - and I enjoy a well-made film and all the good films I have watched do not appear lit at all.

Anthonybhai is also a film aficionado. "Men, what, what, films I see no, I like when films are subtle-vubtle, men, I tell you, like this only."


1 comment:

ms said...

since most of our films are made to showcase the actor's looks, clothes so everything is lit up! "men, what story-vory?" movies made with natural light are labelled "critically acclaimed" and delegated to doordarshan channels and the actors are not "mainstream". taare zameen par only survived due to amir khan's presence, who remembers "kissa kursi ka, ankur, godhuli"? many more films sank into oblivion.