Cinema, in its least academic form, is a conjurer of dreams. I have lived this dream as a cinephile student of this art form for 40 years, as if the inception was planted by God (and not by Nolan which honestly for film buffs is the same thing) just as my consciousness was taking shape.
These dreams have furnished me with the power to be inspired and entertained, to accommodate ideas which seem unacceptable to the deity of logic and sometimes even to heal the wounds that life brings as a package deal.
Growing up in a public school hostel since I was four in the then tiny hamlet of Dehra Dun (India), Saturday evening was the most privileged time for me as a creaky and battered 16 mm projector was unpacked and set up in an open courtyard next to the Principal’s office and the screen was unrolled, creased out and fixed with the promise of a new adventure. And it never failed to deliver.
The myths were established early on, wonder eyed and gape mouthed, away from the dreariness of class room learning and the hunt to find a clean toilet. Sure as “the turning on the earth”, we knew the bad man would be annihilated in the final duel with John Wayne, Dharmendra will engage in fisticuffs with ‘Ganja Shetty’, Chaplin would make us laugh and cry, Hardy will not cease and desist to strangulate Laurel, the damoiselle will always be pretty and pure and the hero will share eternal love with her (only Dilip Kumar preferred death to the maiden).
All of us preferred the fantastic to the real for the innocence of our childhood was yet to be corrupted by the taint for quest of knowledge.
The barrier of understanding spoken language vanished as soon as the projector started to flicker and the black and white individual frames flowed in tandem and unity when they were forcibly pulled through the sprockets and made to sprint at 24 frames per second to form what was the illusion of movement on the screen which none of the blessed students who were sitting on the cement floor were aware of.
Verbal was substituted by visual language as the story was connected with the progression of the scenes. I tried to understand, even as the sometimes words that came out as dialogue were incomprehensible. The magical reality was transposed with the viewer exchanging roles as we saw ourselves in the image of Dev Anand and Cary Grant. And thus it continued.
With no favors granted by Time, I was forced to grow up. However, other than the sweet memories of people who contributed to my life, the bridging connection between my boyhood and current adult state is movies; of all genres, languages, countries, time periods and techniques.
And I look forward to sharing some of them, with all of you, through this blog.
“Film ka ilm” literally translated means “knowledge of cinema” and is named thus because I loved the way it rhymes and is no reflection on me being the bearer of some profound and mystical knowledge of the subject.
I am and hope to remain a perpetual student.