Friday, November 30, 2012


I have been blessed today, blessed with the wisdom, blessed with a realization, blessed with love and deeper understanding of everything going around me for so many seasons. And it has happened suddenly, without scheduling anything in anticipation, without any necessary arrangements. In that flash of understanding, I could decipher the never-ending suffering and agony of a modern man and woman, the wild expansion of violence, hatred and perversion in this world and the sad demise of love and trust in our society. I could comprehend why the flash of darshan is not happening everywhere with everybody as is happening with me and some people around me. I had brought a book called ‘Abhed Akash’ from my brother recently few days back, based upon the conversations between Udayan Vajpeyi and Mani Kaul. Udayan Vajpeyi is a Hindi poet, essayist, short fiction and script writer, whose works have been extensively published and translated into many other languages. Mani Kaul though doesn’t require any formal introduction, but for the sake of convenience, was a renowned Indian filmmaker, critically acclaimed in international art circles as the avant garde independent filmmaker from India who gave a completely new definition to Indian cinema.

While explaining to Vajpeyi in the context of cinema, Mani Kaul describes the philosophy of entire filmmaking process in detail. Mani Kaul says that filmmaking if we see it from a perspective can be divided into three basic processes. Script writing, on- ground filmmaking, and editing. These three processes however integral to the entire process of making a same film, are in fact completely different worlds in themselves. Though they aim for a similar conclusion but they are inherently completely different processes. When a script is written, it is actually written in a dream like state/fashion (swapan), imagining the events, situations and characters of the story. Making the film on ground with camera and technicians is a conscious process (jagrata) which happens in a voluntary fashion. Finally editing it when everything you had planned is finally over, is a different process in itself. A script is basically a planned thing, an order, a structure which a filmmaker tends to follow during the filming process. Now, what actually happens is that when a filmmaker tries to interpret the order of the script on the ground and tries to transform the dream into reality, he finds a complete disorder/anarchy existing before his eyes on ground. Perplexed and staggered, he begins to establish as much order as possible in this chaos. In an attempt to do so, he follows a structure which the script writer has given to him in advance. In that decisive moment, he divides the entire space available to him into moral and immoral, right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable, usable and unusable, order and disorder, planned and random, structure and chaos. When he does so, he takes a vow/oath (sankalp/pratigya) that he would not accept the random, immoral and non-structure. In the universe of chaos, he vows to establish order by eliminating randomness which is integral to the continuity and nature of that universe. The filmmaking process ultimately turns into a struggle. This struggle further continues during editing also. For instance, a script describes a poor girl of a village, sitting on a bed, in hot summer month, with sweat dripping from her forehead, whirling a hand fan to get some air. This is what is written in the script. But when the script is given to the filmmaker and he begins shooting it and seeing the entire scene through a camera, then some unplanned, random event takes place suddenly which distorts the planned perception of that scene. During shooting that scene suddenly it happens that when the girl is whirling the fan in her hand, then some of her hair start moving in random fashion here and there due to the air disturbed by that hand fan. This event has transformed the aesthetics of that scene and given it a new dimension. It has opened a new world of possibility which can take the entire scene to a different platform. This event was not a part of the original script. But now the onus lies on the filmmaker whether he is ready to accept that chaos or not. Similarly, when the film is being edited, normally, most of the filmmakers divide the whole shot material into OK takes and NG (NOT GOOD) takes. The not-ok/NG material is discarded and not usually given to the editor for final editing. The editor is only given the OK material for final processing. Mani Kaul further explains that when something starts in a moment, then it is the destiny of that moment only which would decide the culmination and conclusion of that event. We really cannot predict when this would actually happen. Say for example, in a scene, the door opens; man enters the room, walks slowly towards the window, opens it and starts looking outside. Now the culmination of that scene can be decided only by its inherent destiny which has been captured by the camera and segregated by the filmmaker into ok and not-ok material. So it means that the not-ok material carries the equal possibility of deciding the fate of that scene. But that part has already been rejected before reaching the editing table because the vow was taken in the beginning that no randomness would be accepted during the entire journey. So in a way fate has already been pre-determined by the filmmaking team. But in reality, they just cannot decide the fate of the whole process totally by themselves. They must leave a door open for something which through randomness can determine and conclude that moment. When a disorder drops into an order, there are basically two possibilities. Either that disorder by its very nature would disturb the whole order and create a muddle or that disorder would itself become an order. Both the situations are completely feasible. The moment when the disorder becomes a part of the order, becomes a part of the whole creative process, darshan happens. Mani Kaul further elucidates by concluding that darshan is possible only when it takes an exile from that sankalp/pratigya/vow/oath. Until then the struggle, the fight (dvandva) between order and anarchy would continue on and on. The pratigya taken to remain stuck to the order and moral has degraded the art and cinema. That is why every other movie is nothing but a bad movie and every good movie is also nothing but an ordinary one. That is why we are not able to find realization in modern cinema. Even the best of the global filmmakers like Cronenberg, Gasper Noe, Catherine Breillat, Lars Von Trier, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, and Michael Haneke are not able to go beyond and re-define the locus of cinema.  Every artist somewhere or the other is failing in an attempt to achieve the pinnacle of climax because that pinnacle is possible only when the limit is not pre-ordained by him.

Similarly, we as modern human beings have taken a pratigya/vow to remain moral, upright and structured. Everybody has taken a certain vow in life for the sake of survival. A modern female has taken a vow that she would remain loyal to her parents, moral to her husband, and upright to her children. And she has decided that come what may, she would not deter from her vow. She even decides to forsake her love and beloved for remaining loyal to the vow of morality. Even if she ever becomes promiscuous, the burden of morality doesn’t leave her. A modern woman is an estranged, dichotomized woman. This is what is happening around us. The females opt and prefer to betray for the sake of morality. We as humans opt to follow the structure for the question of survival, even if that structure devastates us in the end. A modern man has bartered happiness for survival, love for morality, desire for pain and bliss for suffering. We have inflicted and imposed misery upon ourselves. Nobody can be blamed. The word ‘darshan’ is a dirty word in public. You try shout in open, and you would be called insane. The question of survival was never that difficult as we have made it through generations. As the people call it, the outside world is a monster world. But it’s really not that monstrous as it appears to be. After all it’s the people everywhere and it is the people only who make the system. We have in fact generated a system of fear in this process. And the strange part is that we haven’t done it consciously and nobody has done it to us in senses. The realization is not possible in a conscious state because the vow has been taken at a deeper subconscious level and has been strengthened through years of grooming and conditioning. It can be realized only in a deeply meditative state. When a sperm fuses with the ovum and the fertilized ovum implants itself in the uterus of the female, the pratigya/vow is implanted along with it. This is how the individual becomes ‘pratigyabadh’ from the very beginning when the seed of life is implanted in the womb of the mother. It grows and breathes in the womb, nourishes in the same liquor amnii and takes birth along with the birth of the child. And it is transferred from generation to generation like this silently, sneakily.                                 

Until and unless this vow of morality is dropped consciously by the individual he would keep on suffering his whole life. The pratigya eliminates the possibility of love/ishq from life. It makes the liberation of an individual a tedious process. We have deliberately blindfolded ourselves. All of us are modern avatars of Gandhari. Until and unless this blindfold is not dropped, darshan is impossible and love can’t happen. The obsession with the moral has to be dropped once and for all. Mani Kaul believes that vyavastha/structure/organization and avyavastha/non-structure/chaos/anarchy always walk hand in hand with each other. Moral and immoral are equally powerful in every moment. Choosing the one is not going to eliminate the other. It would just make it more potent. Therefore whatever structure we have imagined and constructed, a chaos is already present along then and there only. It is just present outside the frame of that structure. It is impinging it from outside, terrorizing the existence of that structure every second, ready to drop in whenever it finds a way. And we as mortal beings are trying very hard for our whole lives to escape from this chaos. This is what is ultimately related to the fear of death which takes various different forms in our whole life. Sometimes, it disguises itself as the fear of loss, sometimes as fear of poverty, sometimes as fear of disease. But if this chaos is so inherent to the very nature of structure then why don’t we allow it to enter our being, rather than strengthening it from outside? Mani Kaul was a genius who could understand Mahabharata and cinema in a way which no other filmmaker/intellectual could manage to do so and also simultaneously allow the randomness to exist along with the structure. He admitted that he finally decided to give it a way because that was the only solution available to him. This is the solution available to us also otherwise the fight would continue the whole life. We have tried following the order for a very long time. And it has certainly not resolved the things for better and made our lives any easier. If the disorder is actually not that disordered and the order is really not that ordered so why continue the distinction. In any case, this distinction is nothing but an illusion created to satisfy the ego of a frightened man.