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Lens(es) of Cinema

What do you think would become of all of us if we didn’t have a medium called cinema?

Even for laypeople like us, who neither have the experience nor the expertise to write about cinema, we feel like we have a lot to share and express about this wonderful medium that has something for everyone. Pick any movie and you would get to experience rich characters, their normal/ eccentric lifestyles and the dreamy/ realistic world that they live in. When you enter this world, it takes you on a journey - one that you might miss when you reach the finish or one that you might celebrate getting out of!


The idea of being able to accompany someone on their journey and live in their world, even if it is for a limited time, is one of the enthralling aspects of powerful writing. A staunch believer in “nothing can match books”, books give you the power of creating your own world and stimulating your imagination, offering you puzzle pieces that have the ability to transform into anything you want it to look like. As a result, it is, at times, pretty difficult to navigate the world of movies, especially ones based on books and do complete injustice to them. What excellent cinema, however, manages to do is give you the puzzle pieces and the final image, but also a trump piece that offers you the opportunity to reimagine ‘what could have been’. It is a medium that has helped us comprehend worlds that we are not in reach with and lets us imagine and recreate scenarios in an entirely different way.


Take movies like Madrasapattinam. We’ve come across several people who hold the movie close to their heart, not for the storyline or the performance, but for their beautiful city captured in all its past glory. The boat calmly sailing on the Cooum, the lives and occupations of a varied cross-section of people, and the tram journeys that a majority of us today have only literary evidence and reference of, the film presents captivating visuals of days gone by and teases us with the ‘what could have been’. There are innumerable such movie references and delightful scenes that guide us through what has been lost, what is surviving and what has been replaced. No matter what background one comes from or where their interest lies in, this journey will be mind-blowing, presenting us with several what-ifs and why-nots.


A still from the movie Madrasapattinam


Cinema has an endearing way of portraying and accepting different perspectives. It’s fascinating how each of us take away different meanings, experiences, and messages from the same movie. For some, it is merely the experience of watching a movie in a theatre, for some, it's the details and thoughts that have gone into crafting a scene, for some, it’s their favourite cast and for some, it is their favourite director or scriptwriter. No matter what aspect attracts one, it results in the viewer becoming one with the movie and the story that is being portrayed.


Every time we walk in and out of a theatre, or, to come to terms with the times, in and out of our OTT screen, we find ourselves carrying a bit of the visual experience. It could range from something crucial such as a social message or a way of life, or something trivial such as beautiful décor or a piece of clothing. Interestingly, the crucial and trivial tags get swapped depending on one’s outlook towards life. Consciously or subconsciously we end up borrowing from movies, be it a lingo or a filmy reference, a new hairstyle or piece of clothing. Its impact on our lives is undeniable and carries tremendous weight.


Well, the need to be mindful of this impact and weight and design our actions accordingly is a topic for another day. Until then, poittu varatungala?

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