Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Uzma Firdous' - "Art for Heart's Sake"

Great art reflects the personality of the artist. Art has always been about inspiration, passion, and motivation. All of these keywords became palpable at Uzma Firdous' art exhibition of paintings. On one of my 'weekendly' art appreciation trips last Sunday, I dropped into Darda Art Gallery at Lokmat Square.  Uzma Firdous' - "Art for Heart's Sake", an exhibition of vibrant paintings, adorned walls of the gallery fascinatingly.
Uzma Firdous with her piece "The Passion"
Uzma Firdous posing next to her art piece titled "The Passion"
As I walked along the string of paintings, I could see proofs of Uzma's imaginations grow creatively. At one diagonal of the plush art gallery, was a painting of a brightly lit chandelier and of one with a rather dark background at the exact opposite wall diagonally. Attention to detail was prominently visible in all of her pieces, and notably in "The Glories of Taj Mahal". Her artworks were received very well by visitors belonging to every age group, as was visible at a single glance. 
"The Glories of Taj Mahal" by Uzma Firdous
"The Glories of Taj Mahal" by Uzma Firdous


I asked the Bhandara-born artist about all that goes behind this exhibition and I came to know about some intriguing facts. Firstly, Uzma is a self-taught artist. Secondly, Uzma had been aloof at the pursuit of painting since two decades! She admits the fact that after her marriage she put all her efforts in home making but has no repents whatsoever. This again proves that she is one of those artists whose zeal for the art far exceeds their limitations that arise from the lack of training and passage of time.

Uzma firdous art exhibition nagpur

Uzma enthusiastically reveals her monochromatic artwork "The Glories of Taj Mahal" as being her favorite. Although vehemently stating that all her artworks were like her children, she takes great pride in the one above due to all the hard-work she put into achieving the detailed look of it.

Uzma Firdous' art exhibition at Darda Art Gallery, Nagpur
Uzma Firdous' art exhibition at Darda Art Gallery, Nagpur

Uzma Firdous' art exhibition at Darda Art Gallery, Nagpur
Uzma Firdous' art exhibition at Darda Art Gallery, Nagpur
Uzma tries to put her emotions into her art. She considers the vibrant colours as the medium for transmission of those emotions. 

Every splash of paint and stroke of brush is a segment of a new story and it is upto the artist to bind these segments together to create the most beautiful and fascinating story.
 - Uzma

Her family has been instrumental in her success. Her husband, children, and mother, all supported her in this endeavor. This could be imagined from the fact that almost all of the 40 odd paintings on display were created within a span of one year. For someone taking a sabbatical from art pursuit for around two decades, the speed of gaining momentum seems phenomenal to me. Impossible without the support of family, Uzma stands for a magnanimous comeback :)
Uzma Firdous' art exhibition at Darda Art Gallery, Nagpur
Intrigue is obvious.
Every pillar at the gallery was full with a plethora of artworks. On one such pillar was a painting depicting a struggling ship caught in the midst of a great storm in the middle of an ocean. Now, this wasn't the first ship painting that I ever saw, but the log line depicting the artwork resonated with me instantly. I remember too vaguely but it went something like this - "Do not allow the external conflict interfere with the inside of you. The moment external conflicts [the sea storm] disturb the inner state of your mind [the calmly sailing ship], your mind starts to sink [just like the ship]". That one became my favorite and I even requested Uzma to pose before it for a click.
Uzma Firdous' art exhibition at Darda Art Gallery, Nagpur
Uzma posing alongside my favorite "Strength in Storm"
With this, my creative journey into Uzma's realism ended. I congratulated her for the exhibition's success and wished her best luck for future endeavours. In the coming days, I plan to visit more art exhibitions. I believe art is simple, but it broadens one's mind multi-fold. A broad mind is a powerhouse of creativity, which fuels artistic endeavours of every individual, like it did in the case of Uzma and many other 'do-ers'. Inspired, I leave the gallery to start another week with all positive energy.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Cine Montage Nagpur : My thoughts on Eric Rohmer's "Claire's Knee"

Every Sunday I attend the movie screenings organised by Cine Montage Film Society, Nagpur. The film society conducts these movie screenings at the AV Hall, Dinanath Jr. College & High School, Dhantoli. Last Sunday Cine Montage screened a film directed by one of the pioneers of 'French New Wave' - Eric Rohmer. The film is titled - "Claire's Knee".

Claire's Knee - Poster Art.

About Eric Rohmer

Eric Rohmer was a french film critic who successfully transformed his career into filmmaking. He was a teacher, journalist and later on edited the well renowned Cahiers du Cinema magazine founded by Andre` Bazin.

Eric Rohmer - Director of "Claire's Knee"

Claire's Knee

The movie went on to win San Sebastian Award at Venice Film Festival, 1971. The story revolves around the protogonist Jerome, who is on a pre-marriage vacation develops an obsession to touch a girl's knee. Now that may sound strange, but the movie is indeed about the aforementioned fetish. Jerome repeatedly tries to touch her splendid knee, and eventually succeeds while consoling her in the climactic scene.

Above said, the movie is also so much about things other than his obsession.

Audience present at screening of Claire's Knee by Cine Montage film society, Nagpur

Obsession of French people with idea of love

Each character in Rohmer's "Claire's Knee" is wanting for love. Every character has a different idea of romantic relationships, and are either into one or are into the process of wanting one. They are very vocal about their needs and longing for love. This film also shows the growing trend in french culture of changing partners quite frequently. Something which has come to be seen as 'normal'. This is very contradicting to the Indian mindset. The film is set in a lavishly green and natural outset. Cinematographically, it imparts a very very romantic look to it. There is a lot of poetic meaning to derive from the visuals themselves. The romantic look thus contributes to the storyline and the gentleness of the French.

Portrayal of relationships through mutual respect

There is a sense of respect between the characters about the relationships that they share among themselves. They are aware of the differences of the opinions. For instance, the teenager Laura is concerned of her misbehaviour with her mother and the brutal words she says in fits of rage repeteadly. Her classic teenage behaviour is overridden by her action of opening up to Jerome about her self awareness. Another instance which can be drawn is at the very end of the movie. Even after Jerome reveals to Claire about her boyfriend's lie [and consoles her by touching her knee rather erotically when she weeps], Claire in the end patiently interrogates her lover and on knowing the truth rather gently gets convinced about his loyalty.

Self-contradicting character of Laura

Laura repeatedly says that she is mature and keeps on doing rather kiddish things on the contrary. Although her relationship with her mother is shown casually and frankly at a great extent, it does not help in preventing differences between them. Laura certainly disapproves of her mother's expectations from her. Later on, we know that she couldn't fulfill her own expectations. May be the expectations were a lie.

Liberalism among women

The film portrayed in a plethora of ways the liberalism that women enjoyed since so early in French society. The transparant friendship that Jerome and Aurora share is a great treat to watch.

Overall, I learnt a great deal about the french from this movie. This movie is actually the fifth of Rohmer's "Six Moral Tales". Although universal, the film is primarily made for the French audience, and is certainly hard for a general Indian mindset to comprehend.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Sunglasses for Lens : Pictorial guide to ND filters

Most often you might have seen YouTubers and DSLR filmmakers using an extra piece of glass on their lens! When I was starting out with learning DSLR videomaking, it's fascinating how I had imagined them to be just 'sunglasses' for the lens for protection purpose. They serve such an important purpose that I can only be surprised thinking how wrong I was :)

With the advent of DSLR Filmmaking, many complementary camera accessories have cropped up. One such indispensable equipment for the camera lens is the ND Filter.

What are ND Filters?

Any additional glass to put upon the lens of the camera is called a ‘Filter’. It is analogous to ‘Sunglasses for a lens’. There are many types of filters to put upon a lens. Commonly UV Filters – which are made up of UV protective glass – are used to protect camera lens surface.

ND Filter stands for Neutral- Density Filter. This simply means that the filter is made up of glass which has a tint of black over it. Thus we allow much lesser light to enter inside our camera. This is necessary when we are shooting in broad daylight/afternoon sun when the light outside is too bright and our images are overexposed.

The ND Filters come in two types – Variable and Fixed exposure.

Variable ND Filters : In variable ND filter, amount of light entering into the sensor can be controlled.

That is, the darkness of the filter can be increased or decreased.

Fixed ND Filters : In fixed ND filter, , amount of light entering into the sensor cannot be controlled. That is, every filter comes with a certain amount of dark tint.

Thus, exposure can be effectively brought under limits using ND Filter.

How does ND Filter help in achieving shallow depth of field?

Depth of field is primarily controlled by the Aperture of the lens. The wider is the aperture, the shallower is the depth of field and vice versa. The equation grows as follows:


The problem is, in brightly lit conditions (such as outdoors in noon), the aperture has to be narrower; otherwise the image becomes overexposed.

In such conditions, it becomes very tough to achieve a shallow depth of field. This problem can only be solved by controlling the amount of light entering on the camera sensor. So naturally, the ND filter comes to rescue. When a ND filter is put on the lens, it allows lesser amount of light to enter on the camera lens, this makes it reasonable for the camera-person to increase the Aperture a tad-bit more, resulting in a shallower depth of field. If this sounds science to you, the following pictures will make it all clear:

[Image 1 : Overexposed Image in afternoon]

[Image 2 : properly exposed image with filter on]

[Image 3 : image with shallow depth of field ]

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Cine Montage : Screening of 'The Salesman"

Members present at the screening of Iranian flick "The Salesman" at Cine Montage Society, Nagpur.
Last Sunday I attended one of the film screenings with Cine Montage film society. The movie of the day was 'The Salesman'. Being an Oscar award winning film I had already a great deal of expectations from the movie. But, I can safely say that the film surpassed most of my expectations and delivered much more than I had presumed.

About 'The Salesman'  - Log lines

After their flat becomes damaged, Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti), a young couple living in Tehran, Iran, must move into another apartment. Once relocated, a sudden eruption of violence linked to the previous tenant of their new home dramatically changes their lives, creating a simmering tension between husband and wife. - Wikipedia
 A married couple are faced with a difficult decision - to improve the life of their child by moving to another country or to stay in Iran and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimer's disease.- IMDB

The film is directed by Ashghar Farhadi, and cinematography is done by Hossein Jafarian.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Alag Angle Nagpur : 'Alive 2017' - Heart to 'Seed paper' !

The atmosphere at the gallery was so cheerful. There was no music, no upbeat talk, but still a strong energy in the air. I felt 'lively' the moment I entered the newly opened Kalakunj Art Gallery opposite to Nagpur Gardens Club. No wonder the organisers had named the art exhibition as - 'Alive' 2017.

Yesterday I decided to visit the art exhibition put up by Alag angle art community in Nagpur. The main motivating factor for me was the use of ‘seed paper’ in creating the artworks. I was unheard of this ‘seed paper’ before the beautiful paintings mesmerized me yesterday. It is basically handmade paper which is embedded with plant seeds. This creative concept, as I was told by one of the artist present there, was brought into materiality by one of the members of the organization. They produced their own ‘seed papers’ and created art over it. Basically, the artwork becomes ‘never-dying’ as the painting if decomposed into soil, gives birth to a plant by virtue of the seeds embedded in it.
The very first sight after entering the exhibition.

I was told repeatedly that the wooden frames that they had used to encompass their artworks were also made by the artists themselves. Some time back, a wonderful activity called – “Maker’s Adda” had been conducted by Alag Angle organization. The aim then was to create artworks out of wood and in the process also learn about the various tools and techniques used to produce such artworks. Thus, they conceived the wooden frames. 
As I entered the realm created by artists, I was approached by the creators present themselves. They were very eager to know how I interpreted their artworks and to explain to me their ideology behind the creation. It was a pleasant surprise to witness the eloquence with which each individual artist put forward their idea behind the art. Artists so young !

Vaishnavi had created a very descriptive piece of artwork. The painting depicted her relationship with her friends and also at the same time showcased her architectural background. She elatedly told me how her friends were caught in shock when they saw themselves into Vaishnavi's art! This made their bond stronger. Makes me confirm to the fact that anything done for friends is never 'so much' :)

Vaishnavi with 'Friends & Infinity'.

Another artist showed her artwork displayed as one of the 'firsts' in the gallery. Showcasing the complexity of her life and aptly intertextualising with the game of chess. The position of King as the leader and the voids in context. The surreal looking painting was a eye-candy and an eye-opener simultaneously. It is interesting to watch how everybody had his/her own view over this piece. I am sure the response of audience must be very gratifying for the artist as well, who looked pleased to see the meanings they derived from the painting.

Bharti with her intriguing work of art.

Shrushti - 'Not your everyday artist'.

As I stroll the aisle, I came across another masterpiece, with its concieving artist promptly awaiting my attention. And boy she became my favorite there ! This young creator named Shrushti was very verbose with her wisdom behind art. I was impressed with the art as much as the way she explained it to me. Her piece unlike others, came with a 'depth' to it too. The wooden-framed piece with birds and sea waves was appropriately hung on a wooden door-frame. The void of sky gave a sense of infinity to the piece, says Shrushti. She even associated it with a mindblowing story of a certain bird. And then, I was spellbound by her imagination.

It was an amazing experience. Nagpur needs more such wonderful art galleries alongwith wonderful organizations like Alag Angle. Both these wings have the potential to arise artists far, far up! 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Cine Montage - My very first movie screening

Cine Montage Society, Nagpur : Screening of Fellini's '8 1/2' 
Hazy images of my boyhood engulfed my mind as I walk the dusty open premises of Dinanath High School located in Dhantoli, Nagpur. After all, I was one of its students and the place might have changed in its exterior, but the vibe hit me hard with nostalgia. It becomes clear at the very first sight of the building that the high school has got a rich cultural past and a booming present.

I had been contemplating over a thought of meeting like-minded people with whom I could share my love of films. That’s when while browsing the internet a week ago, I came across some articles regarding the revival of an age old film society – Cine Montage. Interestingly, it was run by the people behind Dinanath Jr. College – My high school ! I wasted no time and got in touch with them straight away. Mr. Vijay, who assisted me with membership form and requirements, appeared to me a familiar face I had lost contact with.

Dinanath Jr. College and High School. Pic Courtesy - Justdial
As I stand before the corridor which leads to Audio-Video Hall, a membership form, 2 passport size photographs and Rs. 1250 /- in cash, my excitement of entering a new world sees no boundaries. I submit the membership form to Mr. Vijay and enter the air-conditioned AV hall.

I see around thirty-forty odd people in their 40s-50s gathered. Everyone seems to be excited about today’s screening. People were chattering and sharing experiences regarding prior films. Mr. Jaishankar, who had been managing the film society since its inception, shared his understanding of cinema and the way one should strive to understand it.

Poster Art for 8 1/2 - My first film screening with Cine Montage
The movie for the day is – ‘8 ½’ by Fellini. About the movie, all I can say is that it was very tough to comprehend even for seasoned viewers. I think I would need to re-watch it for at least 3-4 times to suck some sap out of it. It is a complex depiction of a distressed filmmaker’s journey. Easily comes under top 10 films ever made across the globe cutting the boundaries of time and geography.

Protagonist 'Guido' enacted by Marcello Mastroianni during a shot.
It was a great experience all in all. Although I didn’t strike any conversation with my fellows on this very first day, I am sure it shall happen gradually. This is one thing I will be anticipating with interest every Sunday.