Film Appreciation Society
The motion picture emerged as the most popular and powerful form of entertainment in the twentieth century and continues to be so even in the second decade of the current century (despite significant changes in its form and presentation). What could possibly explain the almost universal appeal of this medium of creative expression over such a long period of time? How do filmmakers negotiate the content (plot) with stylistic systems such as editing, cinematography, mise en scène, performance, in order to effectively communicate with the audience? How do certain films make the optimal use of the visual element to transcend linguistic barriers and win an international recognition?
The Film Appreciation Society of ARSD College—through its screenings, readings, and discussions—has been making an attempt to answer the above questions and more. Moreover, it tries to cultivate a genuine appreciation of cinema as an artistic form by exposing students to the classics in World cinema (including films made in different Indian languages).
During its early days, the founder members of the Society enjoyed the complete support of the present Principal Dr. G.K. Jha—and other senior colleagues—in their endeavour to introduce students to the finest in Cinema. We started with some historic interventions in film—Chaplin's Modern Times, De Sica's Bicycle Thieves and Von Trier's Dancer in the Dark were among the initial screenings. Discussions on film theory were a regular part of the curriculum aided by recommended readings on form of cinema. The Society also works collaboratively with various departmental associations and College societies to spread awareness via talks and panel discussions on various contemporary issues.
Apart from screenings, discussions, and seminars, the Society also invites filmmakers to share their views on the craft and address student questions regarding the profession. Some of our immensely successful sessions include Sanjay Kak, an independent documentary filmmaker who had an interesting perspective to share on the 1966 Italian-Algerian war film, Battle of Algiers; Shaunak Sen, who spoke passionately and with erudition on his documentary Cities of Sleep; and Avinash Das, the director of Anaarkali of Aarah, who spoke candidly about the thought process behind the making of the film, his stance on gender politics, and the continued necessity of staging resistance on celluloid.
The Society’s objective, over the years, has been to enable students to engage with ways of reading cinema and open the eyes of the College community to the trans-formative power of cinema. Through its sessions, the Society highlights the symbiotic relationship between popular media and society, and the ways in which films can draw attention to the politics of representation, the flow of power, and market dynamics, in addition to working as an instrument of social change.
ACTIVITIES OF THE SESSION 2017-2018
- The Film Appreciation Society, Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma College, organized its first event on 27 September 2017, with a film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s book, TheMurder of Roger Ackroyd, starring David Suchet, Philip Jackson and Oliver Ford Davies. The screening was well attended by students and was followed by an animated discussion on adaptations, crime fiction and cinematic techniques.
- SlavojŽižek’s provocative film, A Pervert’s Guide to Cinema was screened on 19 February 2018. AnkanKazi, Research Scholar, Centre for English Studies, Jawahar Lal Nehru University, introduced the film. He outlined Žižek’s ideas and furnished a description of psychoanalysis in relation to cinema. He spoke about Lacan and Freud, focusing on the way in which psychoanalysis describes just one way of looking at cinema.Healso encouraged some critical distance from Žižek’s method in his talk. At the end of the film, Mr. Kazi and SuryansuGuha, Assistant Professor, Department of English, ARSD College held an interactive session with students, answering questions on certain ambivalences in Žižek’s reading of cinematic texts and how that underlines his positions on psychoanalysis as a reading strategy.
- On the occasion of International Women’s day (8 March), the Film Appreciation Society, in collaboration with the Women Development Cell and Enactus ARSD, invited Dr. Vebhuti Duggal, Assistant Professor, School of Culture and Creative Expression, Ambedkar University Delhi for a talk titled, “Women, Song, Work: Re/Framing Gender in Hindi Cinema.” Cinema as a form and Hindi cinema, in particular, have traditionally been perceivedas sites where women have been seen as objects to be gazed upon. Dr. Duggal’s talk reframed that view by focusing on three rubrics: the female gaze, the song, and the star-body’s work. In following these vectors, it looked at a cross-section of films from Hindi cinema to draw attention to the “oppositional gaze” in SwaraBhaskar'sAnarkali of Arrah; the song as a vehicle for the expression of female desire and emotion; and, finally, the star-body of VidyaBalan through the Dirty Picture. Through these examples, the session reconceptualized both the male gaze on cinema as well as the methods of analysing it.
- In collaboration with the Department of English, the Society organized a screening of Vijay Raaz’s film, Kya Dilli Kya Lahore, as part of the Department’s annual seminar, titled “Partition: New/Parallel Histories” on 14 March 2018. The film, dramatizing an exchange between two soldiers from across the border, highlighted the futility and the shortsightedness of the Partition. The screening was preceded by a panel discussion with Dr. GautamChoubey and Dr. Priyanka Kulhari, both from the Department of English, ARSD College. Dr. Choubey in his paper, “Partition as a Present: Hindi Readership and the Narratives of an Unfolding Partition” outlined the role of popular Hindi journals in deepening the rift between Hindu and Muslim communities during the Partition. Dr. Kulhari’s paper, “Indian Partition in Cinema” delineated the portrayal of Partition in popular Hindi cinema and its role in perpetuating popular stereotypes and fanning the flames of hatred and violence even many decades after the event. The session concluded with an interactive session, with the speakers answering a multitude of questions from both students and faculty alike.
- The last event of the year 2017-18 was a memorable one. On 28 March 2018, Mr. Avinash Das, acclaimed director of Anaarkali of Aarah, screened his film on campus and made himself available for an interactive session with the audience. The session began with Dr. Shreedharam from the Department of Hindi introducing Mr. Das. Mr. S.C. Jha (Retd. Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, ARSD College) localized the terrain and context for the audience, setting the tone for the screening. The Principal, Dr. Gyantosh Kumar Jha was also present during the screening. The film was very well received. Afterwards, Mr. Das answered a variety of questions from the audience and gave them an insight into the thought process behind the making of the film, his stance on gender politics and the continued necessity of staging resistance on celluloid. The Society is very grateful to Mr. Das for his generosity and for enabling a stimulating conversation around issues that are of great significance to us all.