A rich tribute

A rich tribute

Varied path

A rich tribute

If you like your movies veiled and watered down, the works of Girish Kasaravalli aren’t for you. In yet another Girish Kasaravalli film festival, the director’s subtle craftsmanship, compassionate treatment of scripts and realistic narratives were highlighted, this time at the National Gallery of Modern Art. 

The 3-day event which took place over the weekend began with a tribute to the parallel cinema director in the form of O P Srivastava’s debut feature film, ‘Life in Metaphors: A Portrait of Girish Kasaravalli’. The docu-biography demystified the humble filmmaker who, because of his distaste for marketing, remains an enigma to most. But the festival wasn’t just about Girish; it was an examination of his filming technique through 6 of his most popular films — ‘Tayi Saheba’, ‘Ghatashraddha’, ‘Dweepa’, ‘Kurmavatara’, ‘Kansembo Kudreyaneri’ and ‘Gulabi Talkies’. 

In conversation with Suresh Heblikar (who plays ‘Appa Sahib’ in ‘Tayi Sahiba’) and O P Srivastava, Girish talked about his influences and days at Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), which formed the base for his career. Just as author U R Ananthamurthy distinguished between ideological and philosophical films in Srivastava’s feature, saying that the former is a way for directors to manipulate the audience by injecting their thoughts into a narrative, while the latter works on one’s subconscious over a period of time and allows them to form opinions of their own, Girish said that he likes to make the audience think. This, he added, is something he learnt at FTII. 

“My teachers made us think about every shot we took. I had to justify why I added a closeup and what significance it held for that scene.” Therefore, the audience plays an active role in a dialogue with society. 

If one is familiar with Girish’s works, they can spot his narrative technique almost immediately; he doesn’t force his opinions on viewers but gets them engaged about so-called sensitive topics like caste, gender and minorities. “I want to provoke people to think, that’s how a dialogue develops. And not on a short term basis — a good film will change you over a period of time,” said Girish. 

He also explained how nature plays an important role in all his films. This, he said, has to do with his childhood in Tirthahalli, where he grew up amongst the rain and greenery. ‘Dweepa’ is an excellent example of Girish’s metaphorical usage of nature. 

“‘Dweepa’ is not a story about the loss of a geographical location but the submersion of the soul,” he quaintly put it. Known to pick up and enhance great literary works, he said that he doesn’t understand the current trend of alienating literature from filmmaking. 

He also mentioned how India doesn’t have a good circuit for art films. For independent filmmakers to compete with commercial films and gain recognition is hard as, “There aren’t any theatres, like in the West, that show only art films. You can hardly find such spaces.” The point about how art and culture are always the first casualties in budget cuts was also brought up. This short sightedness of the governance has, since long, irked many artistes.