Life & Style

To make a fresh start

Prof. Prashant Desai  

Although most of us are not film critics, we love to analyse and comment on the movies we watch. And, in a hurry to share our opinion, we often miss minute details. Knowing the art of appreciating cinema will help one unravel a scene and observe those small things which further enhance the experience. A three-day film appreciation workshop was held at Phoenix Arena at Phoenix Arena, organised by FULCRUM and conducted by Prof. Prashant Desai for those who wanted to venture into the art of filmmaking, filmmakers and artists and movie-goers interested in appreciating films. Desai deconstructed some of the most acclaimed international films, including films of Maya Deren, and Cinema Paradiso. A renowned cinematographer, screenplay writer, director, producer and an academician, Desai has worked on national and international projects apart from teaching at Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad and Symbiosis, MIT. Interestingly he graduated from FTII in Cinema with specialisation in cinematography.

Tell us about the film appreciation workshop that you conducted in Hyderabad?

Cinema is now an integral part of our lives. It impacts us tremendously, as also in many different ways. We need to pay attention to it, to understand it. The question ‘What the hell is ‘Cinema’? begs an answer. All along, during my education and after, I have had the privilege to see a good number of significant films. Films that taught me what ‘cinema’ is. When I started teaching, I had a wide choice. As time progressed, through repeated viewings and deep reflection, that choice got distilled and helped me create a unique module of essential films; Films, I consider great, films that help us answer the question. My workshop is constructed around the screening and analysis of these films. I consider myself fortunate to have come for this event.

The way we shoot films in the digital era has seen a revolution. Does it have an impact on the creativity?

Technological revolution has changed all aspects of our lives. Naturally the way we shoot/make our films has also changed. Digital technology has impacted creativity —.both positively and negatively. The process has become democratic and we have more people making films which is good but unfortunately most of them lack depth. The advantage is that technology has made the process quicker and convenient which gives freedom and allows one to concentrate on the aesthetics. However, there is need to sharpen sensibilities and delve deeper.

During your interaction with youngsters, what is it that you appreciate in them and also that leaves you disappointed?

Youngsters are open-minded and less inhibited. Their enthusiasm is contagious as they often come up with fresh ideas but the flip side is that they are impatient and look for quick-fixes.

What are the things that one needs to keep in mind while appreciating a film?

Have an open mind and give yourself a break. Allow for ventilation of ideas so that one can avoid quick judgements. Dig deeper beyond the surface to look for layers. Notice the ‘associations’/’connotations’ but within the context of the film. It could be more or less blurred but the film sets its own parameters. Shift between the big picture and details. Know about the oeuvre of the filmmaker and check for the similarities and differences in films.

It is easy to make and show one’s work online. How can youngsters not get carried away with the appreciation they get in this media.

I don’t mind if they get carried away. It is in their nature to do so also . Eventually they will realise and settle down. I just hope it’s not the hard way.

You have donned different hats while working in the industry. Now you travel all over as a teacher and mentor . Which is the role that you enjoy?

I certainly enjoy being a mentor as it is a very fulfilling experience. I am always closer to truth that way.


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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 11:40:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/prashant-desai-on-the-art-art-to-appreciate-cinema/article22824730.ece

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