Trysts at Midnight: Calcutta, Now

On January 5, 2011 by admin

[The Bangla film Sthaniya Sambaad (Spring in the Colony, 2009) was recently released. The film, by way of mapping the diurnal workings of a refugee colony in contemporary Calcutta, asks important questions about the changing cityscape, of the new, emerging world of land grabbers and fly-by-night investors and of the bemused young and old who are outside of this world and yet are sucked within its machinations. This is a conversation about education, humanities and the nature of artistry in the age of modularization—between Moinak Biswas, one of the directors of the film (with Arjun Gourisaria) & Reader, Film Studies, Jadavpur University, Calcutta and Prasanta Chakravarty, Associate Professor of English, University of Delhi.]

Prasanta: Your film got a commercial release finally, which is wonderful. Among the initial reactions, in reviews, internet discussions and so forth, one notices a lot of interest in the polyvalent nature of your craft. I would like to take one particular strand of the film and probe a little: that is, its quite sharp critique of the phenomenon of vocationalization of education. This is a constant and niggling thread, right? Now, one fundamental argument for modular training, especially in humanities and social sciences, at this point, is a democratic one: that it will provide competence to a large number of the unemployed, ensure jobs and help in national growth.

Moinak: This argument has validity up to a point. But the plain chicanery of the private sector entrusted with this ‘national service ‘ is there for all to see. Institution after institution offer courses in mass communication, ‘media science’, etc., without any library, basic equipment and most importantly, without proper staff. The contractual and part-time minimal faculty is paid and treated badly; the students are made to pay through their noses for some absurd training. And typically, these campuses do not observe the basic democratic norms. They hardly allow any unions, some of them make the students wear uniforms, many have campus surveillance. This is expected. The moment you move out of the ambit of the public sector the Indian businessman will tend to abolish the basic democratic norms and will have the support of a large section of parents as a force against ‘politics’.

In our film we were looking at a figure of an education entrepreneur who arrives at a moment when the narrative has left the realist mode and entered a delirium of sorts. This figure, Mr. Paul & Paul as he calls himself, is a criminal visionary of sorts. He builds high-rises, but his life is devoted to providing education to youngsters. The job that he finds for the two absurd thieves looking for vocational education in the film is of a shanty demolition. The dialogue and action are largely nonsensical at this point, but we felt there is a support of reality behind all this. It is chit fund, fishery and construction mafia that have become leading vocational institute builders here.

Prasanta: This hide and seek between the obvious and the orthogonal, the realist and the delirious, is something that is woven into the film, right, to which I wish to come back soon. But if we think about the question of politics—where the familial (since you interestingly mention parents) and the entrepreneurial come together—it is a classic secretive pickle for ensuring security, mostly economic. Now what is interesting is that institute and nation building through vocational training seems something counter-intuitive even from a parental and business perspective to me. Why would you as a parent want your daughter to get a quick vocational training after Standard XII and get into an entry-level job and lose the benefit of being professional, if that is the aim of a ‘reformed’ India? Are captains of our industry so short-sighted that they will lure cheap labour through vocational training rather than look for more durable qualities in a job-applicant? What I mean is: we may be seeing across the political spectrum a lure for an easy and virulent strain of libertarian aims rather than liberal ones. The liberal entrepreneur will hire from classics departments and teach the communicative part in-house, if need be.

But you are right in the sense that perhaps the parents, politicos and tycoons have lost faith, have really turned all together cynical about the public-sphere. We know that corporate social responsibility is often quite mythical and instrumental—at best paternalistic. The ethical paradigm shift of even some of the large business houses in India is astonishingly short-sighted, as some recent media unearthing portrays. And your film deals with the newly formed conglomerates, which we know are sometimes just cobbled up ventures. So, this vocational approach: is it a matter of myopic vision or a more concerted and well worked out argument is something I wonder. What kind of thoughts did you have even as you were structuring the film?

Moinak: We were not exactly thinking of the structure of a political process while making the film. The tycoon character was there all along in the script. By the time the film went into production we could see that seeking education the two wandering ‘thieves’ could well arrive at an encounter with someone who is both a land shark and education Mafioso. Such characters had become quite visible in West Bengal (also) by then. One could see their faces smiling from huge roadside hoardings or newspaper pages, watching over the chaos.

I cannot immediately comment on the political aspect you have pointed to. As far as I can follow this drama the politics of it has a few visible features. First, the destruction of the possibility of democratic initiation on campus (no union, surveillance, uniform, etc.). Second, a project of producing lower level ‘industry-ready’ professionals. Isn’t that exactly the point – not to produce too many people of rounded skills? A large part of the IT industry, for example, does not need anything more than BPO and sales professionals. Why should they inculcate a more comprehensive set of skills? Then there is of course of the pragmatic calculation of individual institutions to make students pay for sham courses. Why would they bother about the larger scheme of building knowledge-economy, etc.?

The attack on the humanities makes more sense from this perspective. Chandrababu Naidu attacked History departments in Hyderabad. A few years later Buddhababu, during his first term as CM, started repeating those words verbatim at teachers’ conventions: ‘we need computer courses in our colleges, not history’. By vocationalizing one may produce useful training is some sectors; it is by eliminating the critical component the political step is taken. This job was handed over to technology and business education long ago. The vocational explosion is completing it.

Prasanta: Right. Perhaps unemployment is still an issue related to these modular skill acquiring schemes. Something is being set right—that is the claim of the aggressive managerial class. And there is a trajectory of dealing employment in Bangla films, which sometimes change in the course of several decades.  One recalls right away Partha Pratim Chowdhury’s ‘Jodu Bangsho,’ Tapan Sinha’s ‘Apanjon,’ Mrinal Sen’s ‘Interview’ and ‘Chorus’ or even Satyajit Ray’s city trilogy. And of course a whole series of more commercial ventures that deal with the same theme. This changes in the eighties, does it not? Is unemployment still a dominant theme at that point? And then of course, we have the first rumblings of libertarian India from the early nineties. In your film, we see the eventually exploited thieves are looking for jobs. But more importantly, the choric commentators in the colony, figures that will instantly be recognized as prototypes of the watchful unemployed. Collective beings of the rowak/thek (local perches), they are also deeply individual, with a sense of wry, incurable romanticism ingrained. The obvious everydayness of these characters seems to spill over. A commentary on the changing times?

Moinak: I think it is typical of the decline of a bourgeois cinema in Bengal that we do not see the job seeking plot of the late sixties- seventies, with the unemployed hero, from the middle of the 80s. The unemployed protagonist enters the field of subaltern crime- revenge- cross class- romance structure from that time on. Also, the specific political articulation that unemployment found in the seventies was gone. That played a major role. The new bhadralok cinema that has emerged since then is ensconced in well-to-do insular interiors. This world itself banishes all economic or political disturbance.

Prasanta: How did you then conceive the nature of the group of young boys on a roadside perch in the film?

Moinak: It is typical of the areas not fully integrated to the logic of the market that we find a lot of people not having viable things to do, or not at least in rhythm with the market, and therefore, they seem mysterious. You see a lot of them here, by the wayside as it were of the rushing stream of the usefully employed. The five boys on the roadside perch in the film are like crows perched on a clothesline, on the look out for trivia to pick on. In their final scene they surprise themselves and others by breaking into a full rendition of a Tagore song, as if under cover of indolence they have been rehearsing it all along. Most young characters in the film, including the protagonist, are in some sense in excess of the economy (Bodhisattwa Kar wrote about this aspect of the film in the Bengali periodical Baromas). The two thieves take the vocational education challenge head on, but they turn out to be the most absurd elements in the plot.


Prasanta: Yes, this spilling over and excess is something that interests me a lot. You see, as a student of literature I am constantly being intrigued by the element of surprise and the absurd, the fantastic and the inexplicable. Now, you have rightly pointed out that when you were making this film you were not thinking about the structure of the political process and yet it is absolutely clear you are making a very creative intervention in various burning political issues in contemporary Bengal, including that of education. You have also said that behind the nonsensical nature of dialogue and action you felt there is a support of reality. So, there is indeed an investment in material reality and the everyday. In that sense, it seems to me that the approach to your film is quite different from say, what directors like Suman Mukhopadhyay are offering us at this point. I am reverting to this old question of the absurd and the real precisely because your film takes a tantalizing liminal space in this matter and yet is thoroughly grounded, almost in a throwback fashion.

Moinak: I suppose one responds with film in various ways to the political. You feel like commenting, lampooning, showing puzzlement all at once. We were of course trying to get under the skin of a reality increasingly looking hard to define—a political problem in itself. I suggested that one probably does not think of the structure of a certain economic and political process and then find a filmic response. In our case, we tried to express bewilderment as much as make comments. The end is both a destruction of home and a moment of reunion for the community. But it is an aftermath of developmental violence in the city. In cities like Calcutta there is a gap between the fragile but still dominant vernacular cultural expression and the new mode of urbanization unleashed over the last decade or so. Our film tries to take a trip across ‘paras’, areas in the city divided along language, consumption, habitation, etc. We thought any such journey is conventionally an education for the characters. The young hero’s story in that sense is of the buildungsroman variety. But in the process, we meet education business in motion. We wanted to make those points of crossing unreal, almost delirium-like. Two thieves chop off a girl’s plait to sell it for raising money for computer training; the director of a private vocational academy stands on a huge watchtower in New Town-Rajarhat and mouths verses from schoolbooks. Two times, two kinds of languages, etc., cross each other in a grotesque encounter. The support of reality here comes from the way the great motivators of privatized education enter our lives, speaking serious nonsense. We read their sermons in newspapers every day. They are there.

Prasanta: This educative aspect of knowing the interstices of the city, to get into the bowels as it were, what you have just said about taking a trip across various city localities is in a way trying to address the question of the divide too that besets much of urban India today. Some would say the vernacular and the new modes could be bridged and that is essentially the city experience. Stakeholders are smart enough to merge and so forth. But what price this bridging? Your film shows multiple displacements of a certain group of refugees—a saga rather than progress or arrival. In the context of this bildungsroman sojourn, many commentators of your film have also noticed the ethnographic quality of your approach. The city itself, in three structural modes, is laid bare. Did this worry you—how to flesh out the finer points of the narrative and the unreal delirium especially, along with capturing the cityscape?

Moinak: Arjun and I felt very strongly about being suffocated by the upper middle class interior into which the bhadralok cinema in Bengal has collapsed. The city has suddenly too much to take in, too many tongues, faces, occupations have become visible over the last couple of decades. To my mind, this has happened primarily through television and related modes. And then, there are these modes and spaces of consumption where regional linguistic identity is hard to maintain. The bhadralok cinema’s reaction is to withdraw to the living room and be shamelessly talking about the trivia that constitutes bourgeois life in Bengal. We wanted to be on the streets almost entirely. There is a pattern of sorts to the movement between localities. We start from the southern fringe, the refugee colony areas, still marked by local dialect, bodies, etc. Then through a mad auto rickshaw race we reach the Park Street area. This is literally flying over the middle class Calcutta into a cosmopolitan fairground. By the time we arrive at the Calcutta of the future, New Town, we return to characters all of whom seem to have originated from refugee pasts, now busy searching comically for lost languages. This turns out to be an unexpected education for the hero, who actually gathers the courage to come out his reverie, go back to his folks, stop writing useless verses. This journey, we felt, had to look partly unreal. If there is any politics to this, it could be presented only in a snatches of hallucinations gathered from a number of characters rather than one.

Prasanta: All right. Let me put this issue of unexpected education in a slightly different manner. I would like to go back to your usage of the term bildung, which we know is also a classic old world bourgeois trope. There is sometimes a sense of education in the film that seems to me to be loving and paternal and therefore, not wholly outside of the bhadralok cosmos. For example, the young boy is being educated by the middle aged intellectual through that classic liberal commodity: borrowing and circulation of books. Their loving relationship, the rites of passage and so forth are bridged by dialogues and exchanges that are almost Socratic in nature. The boy is learning not through instruction or teaching but by a sort of spiritual sharing—the kernel of forming an ethos.

Moinak: The boy is a writer of obsolete poetry, but obviously has not done well in exams ever, probably hasn’t got a proper degree. Put in the terms of this discussion he would be one in need of supplementary institutional education, remedial or vocational. The five idlers permanently perched on the bamboo bench have one among them trying to learn English from a newspaper and a pocket dictionary. The two thieves are desperately seeking education. We have used Vidyasagar’s primer Barnaparichay, not too seriously though, in two scenes. Geeta Kapur and Vivan Sundaram told me they found the film full of ruses. That made us think that probably there are two kinds of ruses, one where the boy is seeking a girl, the ladylove of his verses, but arrives at a different object, an illumination of sorts. In the other, the thieves seeking education land jobs directly. The ‘education builder’ puts them in his demolition team. Again, this is all derived from the film retroactively, as we use it for the purpose of this discussion. The film wasn’t made with all this laid our before us exactly this way.

The boy Atin and his middle-aged mentor do function within a bhadralok discourse. What else could they do? Dipankar, the mentor, finally talks about fleeing the battlefield. They were roaming the city in search of the girl while Atin’s folks were fighting to save their homes. That’s what we wanted to add to this bhadralok story. The sharing that you talk about is full of jabs at each other; it is also punctuated with Dipankar asking the boy from time to time to eat something. Atin doesn’t eat, doesn’t go home, doesn’t sleep. Wandering through the night he does seem to become a little like a spirit. Probably this is what you also have in mind as you talk about sharing. The sharing fails. So far as ethos is concerned I am more intrigued by a vacated space. One kind of ethos is already in tatters, the other cannot be visualized yet.

Prasanta: In relation to sharing, I am also thinking about the ideas of friendship and the scope of sexuality in the film, especially since you would like to steer clear of this television mode of intimate-sphere sexual encounters possibly. This aspect assumes some significance because currently available forms of sexual educative schemes are again either busy and programmatic or are plain consumptive. Now, it appears to me that the important exchanges about sexuality in the film (vis a vis the naiveté of the young protagonist)—say in the body language and views of the mentor-intellectual, among the adolescents, and most importantly in the two old men in the local grocery store—are gazes, codes and innuendos shared among the men-folk. Not that as directors you have any onus to share the materiality of relationships from other sexual angles, but I am intrigued by this simply because we are also talking about modes of sharing, vernacular or otherwise in the city. Are the modes of exchange in colony life and education sometimes unconsciously male or are there other layers to it?

Moinak: Yes, there is this male world that the film explores. We did not think about sexuality much when we developed the idea; we thought we had a story that’s built around the absence of the central female character, Ananya. She goes into a kind of hiding; Atin, smitten by her, builds a whole fantasy around her disappearance, a very old romantic one of damsel in distress. He is sexually too naive to grasp the basic differences, is even ready to ignore the class difference between them. Dipankar the mentor brings that reality back to him by almost slapping him across the face in the pub scene, where he tells him about Ananya’s family buying an apartment in the high-rise threatening their own refugee tenements. We didn’t want to treat sexuality within this plot since that could have created a male world in a more qualitative sense. We would like to think it is just a male world by virtue of male characters being more visible. If I may add here, it does not pay to do such things. One big obstacle to selling the film for any commercial distribution has been the absence of a lead female character.

Prasanta: If I may shift the thread a little, since I found some rather engaging markers of shuffling and transition: this intriguing granular sonic tone to the film for one. How did you think about sound in Calcutta? It is a truism that we have become quite visual in perception. Anyway, certain sounds are vanishing, words are disappearing. There is a move to control and regulate kinds of utterances and sound. Self-regulation often. I’d never imagine that during Kalipuja/Dipawali crackers would go out of business! But that has happened and everyone seems quite pleased. There is a tremendous sense of righteousness among people these days—from the judiciary to the socially conscious kid next door. On the other hand, new modes of sound patterns are floating in too. Popular Hindi film songs, which were considered at one point to be culturally corruptible among the middle class Bengali household, are now more freely accepted, valorised even. The radio, which had disappeared for a while, has come back in a big way in the everyday space. Sometimes I feel the catch-phrases of hawkers and vendors are morphing too, adjusting to newer demands. Other kinds of more intangible sounds are perhaps also making an entry.

Moinak: Arjun had decided to use live sound. We knew it was extremely difficult to manage in Calcutta, and would also mean a great pressure on our resources. But I’m glad he decided not to compromise on that. Niraj Gera and his sound team have added a whole sound reality in which one could embed characters, action, duration. I think for most part, the sound design has worked towards evocation of that vast and teeming life, the possibility of what lies beyond what we immediately see, becoming visible. The omnipresent rickshaw horn, loudspeaker and some other elements divide the colony from the other two parts of the city shown in the film. We have not tried to capture aural regulation though, but the fact that by modulation you can make the same multiplicity of sound appear different. The middle class buying cars and air-conditioners has pushed the city noise level to a new height. The righteousness you talk about has not done anything to the fact that people are actually going deaf in the city. The radio is indeed a new sound. The FM playing in the auto-rickshaw joins the deafening car noise and an old Bengali melody, which now keeps rhythm with a mad road race. There should have been more TV sound in the colony. I think we have made a mistake there. That sound could have helped us underline the basic temporal mix that all these lives are marked with.

Prasanta: And the music too burgeons freely in the milieu, as it were. On one hand, the upcoming and unrealized Spring Festival and songs of Tagore being rehearsed in the colony, which could be a comment on Tagore’s routine and watered-down presence—the Tagore industry so to say, which thrives on smart and made-easy patterns. But as you have suggested, it is a worth pointing out that Tagore exists in his own way, with far more clarity and courage among the ones who are left out: among the perched young boys in this case. 

On the other hand, you are perhaps not too kind on the phenomenon of local bands which are mushrooming dime a dozen in Calcutta at least for the past few years. Does this new sound appear pastiche like, not culturally dense enough, something that will not stand the test of time?  But your emphasis lie, if there is explicitly any at all, on certain lost genres, older forms of musicality: I mean the way you have used Chandidas via Shanta Das and also the Deho Tori song, once used by Ghatak in Subarnarekha, which has a brilliant Hemango Biswas rendition too, here sung by Sanchita Roy Chowdhury. There is this tremendous love and a sense of loss that is evoked somehow simultaneously. In the Deho Tori number indictment of and puzzlement at understanding the devices of the market takes a whole new meaning in the current Indian context. A sense of bewilderment and deficit with the fleeting gloss. Such renditions were often part of a good number of regular and intimate Bangla films at one point. Is this a commentary on the loss of a certain way of life and performance? Or are all these rather part of capturing the milieu, a vernacular ethos as you call it—not assessments of contemporary musicality?

Moinak: With music we were also trying to be close to the actual range of songs that you hear in these localities – Kirtan, Bhatiali, Tagore, Bangla pop. Tagore, as you said, is both routine and deeply relevant. He is everywhere, but is endlessly renewable like the air we breathe. We have used the full throated singing, not the whining, sanitized style that is associated with academic Rabindrasangeet rendition. The Kirtan space is real. As you know, every colony para has at least one of these religious congregation spaces. We had hoped the shop where the two old Vaishnav men sit would work as a location of commentary, a Vaishnavite commentary of sorts on commodities, desire, etc. As Ananya secretly leaves home and takes a cab to Park Street to get a haircut, we hear a Bhatiali that talks about Krishna’s flute luring Radha out of home. The BhatialiDeho Tori’ extends that commentary into a more contemplative, serious expression. The song talks about seduction and confusion of commerce, but this is life as marketplace, the market as the world itself. In a sense, Atin has to pass through the glitter of the neon districts, through a real marketplace, before he learns to be different. This commerce is essential, as the passage also is.

The members of the local band are collectively like the character of Cacofonix from the Asterix comic series—a source of new noise in the para. But they are part of it, part of the madness. They come back in one of the last stills, when the community comes together. Dipankar, Ananya, the leader Tapan are missing from this new gathering, but not the band. We are not really unkind to them; they join the ‘dinner’ like in Asterix, but are greeted a little differently like the bard there.

Prasanta: Since we are talking about sound, may I visit, what seems to be at least one obligatory moment in your film: the climactic scene of the actual demolishing of the houses in the colony by slush-buster type machines in the dead of night. A fresh initiation to the camp-colony-camp story. You have said something about too many shrill and cluttering voices that are adding to the sense of flux now in the city. At that point you slow things down completely and it is a moment of raw realization on the part of the viewer about the implications of all that has actually gone before, the various strands explosively enjoin in those few seconds. But things unfurl in silence. The visual takes over. But that kind of terrible visuality is also quite tactile—as if one can touch the screen and feel the heat and dust of the unfolding contortions and wastage of it all. The scene bears the full implications of the ruthless revenge of the mediocre on finesse and fairness that we are witnessing now in India. But all in silence. I want to ask you about the role of silence and the tactile in artistic imagination in general and in films in particular.

Moinak: It is difficult to answer it in its generality. The tactile/sensory has staged a return, both in critical imagination and in art. Silence on the other hand is quite common to film. We had recorded the sound of the demolition on location and were happy with the results. But in the editing stage, we watched a version where sound wasn’t yet put to the scene. We decided to keep it that way. It was helping the film sustain the unreality that had settled in by then, and, at the same time, make it menacing. We thought it would seem both a little schematic and mechanical, but because the machine has been waiting there all along to pull the tenements down, the mechanical would seem like a natural outcome of things that have happened before – what you call an obligatory moment. The chatter in the film had begun to give way to silence by then. Silence can underline the visual as some kind of essence of cinema; that’s what is mostly said about it. But it can serve, as we hoped it would do here, to act just as a reminder of cinema’s role as image rather than proposition. By this time, we wanted to arrive at a number of images. That would be the politics of the film for us—not statements, but possibilities of re-ordering.

Prasanta: The narrative is interspersed with jokes and packed with laughter. You have made a mention about interlocutors wondering about possible ruses. Ridicule could be useful, though this ironic playfulness could well be part of the overall delirious mood that you had wanted to build up.

Moinak: The main character Atin is made fun of by the boys on the perch, the girls in the music class, by Dipankar, his only friend. But those who laugh at him are also often comic themselves. People who do not have much to do by default indulge in weird conversation. But those with aims are no less ridiculous, including the architect of future Bengal, Mr. Paul. This is not so much part of the ruse, but was necessary to keep a distance from what’s going on in front of the camera. This is also the reason we have maintained a physical distance from the characters, especially in the first half. Shot them in normal lense, mostly eye-level, in long shots.

Prasanta: We are talking about some formal aspects of your craft with a hope that these excesses and ruses and images are positives that one may build upon. But there is also one interesting moment in the film where nostalgia, education, development and literariness coincide. I come back to the question of aesthetics and politics. Mr Paul is a creature of acute nostalgia, but his craving for earthiness in Bengal is routed through literature. We are talking about a certain sensibility where literature (in fact a poetic sensibility!) can actually be deployed for modularization and mayhem. This romantic notion of earthiness and volk could well lead to sinister effects as we do witness time and again in history.

Moinak: Yes, but isn’t Mr. Paul remembering verses from schoolbooks? His literariness is as ridiculous as the thief’s, who in a state of near ecstasy recites to him a Tagore poem from 5th standard textbooks, which then makes Mr. Paul ask the thieves if they have come from the same East Bengal where he hails from, etc. All this is part of Bengali love for literature turning up in its grotesque version, where culture rituals are blithely ignorant of the hideousness of their patrons. Mr. Paul thinks he is looking for his lost village as his pay-loaders claw at the soil. Poetry in mayhem, but probably also a whole language reveling in infantile destruction of its own idyllic roots. That was a point where we wanted to give free reign to nonsense, to wallow for a while in the ‘macabre fun’ that Haraprasad talks about in Ghatak’s Subarnarekha.

Prasanta: As I go away with this exchange I would possibly keep thinking more on the kind of churning that the city (and various parts of Bengal too, in different ways) undergoes now: physically and politically, through culture wars, by means of artistic productions, in various attempts to woo the bureaucracy and the police, in proliferating street corner prophecies and rumours, in cycles of revenge, in half-sure newspaper articles and so forth—it’s all an ominous lull. And yet things are as banal and desultory as it has been, for ever, and may well remain so for months to come. You have repeatedly maintained here that anticipation and bewilderment constitute the reigning mood (dhando or pher as one of the songs highlight); at least as you see your film. Re-ordering too, of images and vignettes around.

The jury is still out perhaps. And yet there is this visceral, material aspect to it—in the immediate and real blows on education, land rights and community space, of course. But also on a way of living, which is being eaten away—right here, right now, how glaringly intangible. No, not a story of crisis; more a descriptive fable of hard-nosed shift, one may think. All said and done, the sense of tragedy at the end of your film is direct and primeval, except for the fact that such daily tragedies are being inflicted upon us by the pedestrian and the ossified. How did we allow that to happen? A city of many shades, witness to many ups and downs, is perhaps fighting a bitter battle with itself.

Moinak: The lull that you see is perhaps part of the rhythm of taking off into the new economic orbit. The many built-in resistances as well as new struggles that we have seen since 2006 in West Bengal, struggles that provisionally eliminated the distance between country and city, have forced the economic transformations to encounter the mirror images they have successfully avoided in some other parts of the country. It’s an outcome of organized action as well as conditions that have turned ‘objective’ here. If you compare the media pre- and post- 2007 you see a radical change. From an entirely uncritical celebration of the new economic policies of the government the public discourse has turned more internally fragmented, including the big media. The caesura, the lull where things seem to become still, is at least partly an effect of these contrary flows. Our film seeks to occupy such a space.

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