Indian Cinema @100: Lights, camera, experiment!

By HT

Mumbai, June 24 -- This year witnessed several celebrations marking the centenary of Indian cinema, but none of them were probably as unique as Films Division's upcoming cinematic extravaganza - '100 Years of Experimentation: Retrospective of Indian Cinema and Video'. The three-day festival, featuring over 50 films and 18 hours of film programming, will unearth some of the rarest works in their original formats - 16 mm, 35 mm and digital, most of which are virtually impossible to acquire otherwise. It is a creative venture to acknowledge 'experimental narratives' and to draw a clear distinction between popular cinema and offbeat works.

"The term 'experimental' has often been misused in the public sphere by the populists and the media. Anything beyond mainstream is stamped as experimental. For instance, Anurag Kashyap's works are generally regarded so, which is a flawed notion," says Ashish Avikunthak, curator, 100 years of Experimentation. The film screenings will be followed by interactive sessions moderated by historian Amrit Gangar and film scholar Lalita Gopalan.

The creative initiative is segmented into four sections - Experiments with Gods featuring the early narratives by Dadasaheb Phalke; Experiment with State showcasing the state-funded films made in Films Division during the late '60s; Experiments in the School highlighting some of the major works by students in FTII and SRFTI and Cinema of Prayoga, which traces the roots of discursive imagination within Indian philosophical theories.

"The data has been collected from National Film Archive of India, Films Division Archives, archives of FTII and SRFTI. We are hoping to witness three extraordinarily charged days of madness," adds Avikunthak. MUST- WATCH FILMS: KANCHAN SEETHA (Malayalam, 1977) by G Arvindan. The film is an invigorating retelling of the Ramayana. SATAH SE UTHATA AADMI (Hindi, 1980) by Mani Kaul. A cinematic masterpiece based on the life of Hindi writer Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh. KAAL ABHIRATI (Bengali, 1989) by Amitabh Chakraborthy. A significant film of this era exploring the complexities of human existence within the confines of Indian philosophy. RAJA HARISHCHANDRA (silent film, 1913) by Dadasaheb Phalke. The first Indian feature film, based on the legend of King Harishchandra.

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