The Art of Film Appreciation – 1

Ours is a film loving filmy country. For a very long time, films were the only medium of entertainment for large masses and till the advent of smartphone and benevolent internet services of Ambani brothers, it continued to be. But even on the smartphone maximum watched content is film based be it music, films or videos.
The Indian Film industry is the largest in the world in terms of number of films produced with between 1,500 to 2,000 films produced every year in more than 20 languages.

In terms of revenue, the industry has gross box office realizations of $2.1 billion which is expected to grow at 11% CAGR reaching $3.7 billion by 2020
Films is also an economic engine of development, it’s the largest provider of job. Films are most profound use of chemistry that human kind has ever found, both in the process of making and during the course of viewing, as there is whole lot of chemical reaction happen in the audience – chemical locha as great Munna Bhai the MBBS called it. Its global phenomena no culture in the world is completely oblivious to this phenomena except may be Taliban culture that dream of more than a century old world. It is the distinctive narrative form of the 20th century the signature form of storytelling of 20th century. The medium like computers has pervaded almost all walks of life, in the form of ad films, porn films, documentary, educational and instructional video, form of communication for political parties, babas, swamis sadhus and even terrorists.

Film stars occupy cult figures in India, their fans worship them, and they also make temples for them. Stars like Rajanikant and before him MG Ramchandran, NT Ramarao were rage in south India, Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan have the capability of pulling the audience to cinema halls just by their mere presence in the film.

But films are not just these stars and actors, a film is made possible with the effort of hundreds of people, as per one study from the popular movie site of 50 highest grossing films of each of the past 20 years the average number of crew credits in the top 1,000 films between 1994 and 2013 was 588. Over half of the top films had fewer than 500 people in their crew. On average the top films of the past two decades have each had 3.5 writers, 7 producers, 55 people in the art department, 32 in sound, 55 in camera / electrical and 156 in visual effects, on the highest side Iron Man 3 credits 3,310 crew members. So actors are just the face, but there is huge effort of all these film crew members in making an actor look like what he does on the screen.

The film, the final product that you watch on screen is the result of years’ work of people who work on pre-production. A story is selected for the film, sometimes the film maker weaves the story around an event or a personality, the films like “No one killed Jessica”, “Highjack”, “Talwar” were examples of the film based on events, “Mary Kom”, “Bhag Milkha Bhag”, “Dangal” were films based on personalities. The story is converted into screenplay or shooting script. Where the entire film is continuation of sequences, each sequence has number of scenes and each scene has number of shots. Shot is the basic unit of the film, The film director uses shots to tell the story and communicate the mood of the character, situation. Director is the brain and heart and Cinematographer or Director of Photography as he is called now, is the body to execute the thought and feel of the director. There are various shots primarily depending on the camera angle and distance of the object from the camera. I will mention few of them with some example to illustrate my point. I hope you will appreciate.
1. Aerial Shot: This is used to establish the context, or situation, remember, this was the shot used in the casting of 3-idot, with the song Behti hawa sa thaa wo, In which a car was driving through the winding roads of the hills, an interesting trivia, the car was digitally superimposed in the shot, the original shot did not have any car.

2. Arc Shot: A shot in which the subject is circled by the camera. The shot is used to create drama and additional action around a stationary object or character, an arc shot is often used to reveal different components of the area in which the subject is standing. At the start of an arc shot, the area behind the camera operator is the visual background by the time the shot finishes, allowing for greater depth and detail about the subject’s surroundings. Remember the Sholay film song Jab tak hai jaan, where after dancing for some time the character Basanti feels giddy under the strong sun, the arc shot adds on to the scene significantly.

3. Over-The-Shoulder Shot : A shot where the camera is positioned behind one subject’s shoulder, usually during a conversation. It implies a connection between the speakers as opposed to the single shot that suggests distance. The famous Deewar “Mere Paas Maan hai” scene starts with over the shoulder shot, the camera looks from behind the character that Shashi Kapoor played keeping Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan’s character) in the frame establishing connection. As they were talking and Vijay is trying to convince his brother to leave the town, in slightly longer shot Amitabh moves closer to Shashi Kapoor in order to further convince him, camera slowly pans and zooms on to Shashi Kapoor bringing him in close up shot where he says “Mere adarsh mujhe iski izazat nahi dete hain” No my principles and my ideals don’t allow me. Then Cutting to Close up of Amitabh Bachchan who reacts to him telling him that he has got car, bungalow, bank balance, what he has got? Now there are seven quick close-up alternate shots of Amitabh and Shashi Kapoor, and in the seventh close up shot he says “Mere Paas Maan Hai”.

This scene is cult scene and everyone who has seen this movie remembers it. But did you ever think why do they remember it? They remember it because of brilliant scene design and shot breakdown.
The lighting of the scene, the sound design, all this with the effort of technicians and other crew members. Would it not be fair to be a little more conscious of the effort of these people? This realization would be a tribute to the efforts of the crew. Next time when you go to watch a movie, please remember my request – the moment hero and heroine embrace at the end of the movie, or villain is killed or arrested please just don’t rush towards the exit gates, wait for the end credits and read some of the names, as they are the guys who are responsible for your enjoyment and fun.

I Shall be back with some more information on art of film making.

Bye for now.


Contributed by
Mr. K.K. Bajpai
Associate Professor
SMS Varanasi


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