I was reading about the first silent film in Malayalam- Vigathakumaran, which in English means The Lost Child. It was made in 1928 by J. C. Daniel, a businessman with no prior experience in film making. When most of the early Indian films in most of the languages were on mythological subjects, it was made on a social subject. Infact many film-pundits consider it to be the first social drama in cinematic medium. and had a happy ending.
But the film, its producer-director-hero (and the editor, too) Daniel and the lead actress did not have a happy ending. As the producer-director Daniel was and the heroine P.K.Rosy were converted Christians, and Rosy was from a lower caste, playing the role of a upper class woman- the film was a target of caste vendetta. Daniel and the cast were harassed. After the film was released, the theatres showing the film were attacked. And the only copy of the film was burnt down. In a curious and tragic way- the film, the first Malayalam film became the lost child. It was a victim of caste dynamics.
Cut to 2021.
A report stating that Kareena Kapoor Khan would play the role of Sita in an upcoming film Ramayana triggered protest, threat and brutal trolling. Reason: Kareena Kapoor’s marital status. How can we accept a lady who has married a Muslim to be our Sita maiya?
The domain of make-believe morphs into reality and more specifically religion-politics.
It was caste dynamics then that destroyed J.C. Daniel, pushed Rosy into oblivion and burnt the only copy of the first Malayalam film, inflicting irreparable damage to our own film history. It is religion-based politics which might harm if not destroy the Indian Film Industry, now.
Recently I attended a workshop on ‘Immersive Media’ conducted by Clyde Dsouza, an Internationally acclaimed authority on this subject organised by Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC).
For lay man, immersive media is a coming together of technology and reality. To elaborate, immersive media is defined by immersive technologies that attempt to create or imitate the physical or imagined world through digital simulation. Examples of immersive media include virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality, etc. and others to come in the future- which would fall under the umbrella term Extended Realty (XR).
Clyde conducts workshop on this subject across the world. He also writes fiction. His science fiction Memories with Maya published by Penguin in 2013 was a huge hit. It looks at how AR and AI (Artificial Intelligence) will merge to augment human beings in ways that will influence emotions, raise ethical questions and impede the evolution of mankind.
In the workshop, however, Clyde donned a different role. He said, immersive media technology would be extensively used in cinema, news-media, public relations and advertisement industry, besides in long distance communication. It will provide an immersive experience to the spectators. It can also teleport a person (through hologram technology) to a distant place. It’ll be the next level of video call.
However, it will have a profound impact on visual entertainment industry as it can provide an experience like never before. The viewer will feel as if he is a part of the scene instead of just being a spectator.
Netflix and Amazon prime have already started using it to create visual products for their subscribers with a premium. Social media platforms like facebook and twitter are now in the process to use this technology.
In India the technology should be available for use by end of this year. But whether our cinema industry will take to it is another question. The academia in media and film making institutes also must take note of this technology and teach the students how to use this technology. For filmmakers it will open a new vista in visual story telling.
Marriage during Corona
With restrictions on travel and gathering and enforcement of social distancing norms -marriage during Corona is a nightmare for some, and a boon for people like my friend Sibu. His reason: not many people, especially relatives can actually come for the marriage. So you save a considerable amount of money and lots of hassle. Some relatives are actually a pin in ..you know where.. during marriage. It is good that they will not be coming. Thank you Corona.
Tailpiece: Beleaguered Beings
Kabhi Dhoop se paresan
Ab Taklif barish se
Sikayate besumar hai
Admi ke fitrat me
Beleaguered by heat of the summer
Now beleaguered by rain
In human fate there are
(Courtesy: Social Media)
About the Author:
Journalist turned media academician Mrinal Chatterjee lives in Dhenkanal. He writes fiction and plays.