I saw two amazing films on Saturday night, made with love and with absolutely no artificial lights. One was a commercial and the other, Amol Gupte’s “Stanley ka Dabba”. More on the former, later.
“Stanley…” is an impossible film. Not just because the synopsis would have struggled to go beyond three and a half lines, but because it was shot on a still camera, on real people, with the only equipment hired being Love and probably a tripod. At a time when films are shelved for ‘lack of overseas investors’ and when pre-production starts a year before shooting, ‘Stanley’ is a slap-in-the-face reminder of why people started making films. And also, of why we go to the movies.
The worst thing one could do to the picture is to call it a ‘Children’s film’. Amole Gupte, who wrote ‘Taare Zameen Par’ (and was at the helm of that film for the most part), does not have a brilliant idea that he had made into a film. There are no soundtracks that will soar in the charts. Hell, the climax is not even a surprise, considering you figure that part out by scene 3. But you lose yourself in the screen, right from the first scene because the world he recreates is one where you have been. And one, whose smells and sights you remember intimately.
Apparently, the film was shot only during the ‘theatre workshop’ periods on saturdays and everybody but the protagonist (Partho Gupte), was just sitting through a class while the film was shot. But how a film ‘is made’ should never decide how ‘it is viewed’. The details on this one – the mafia don-ish air of the kid playing ‘Aman Mehra’, the searching nostrils of Amole Gupte playing the Hindi teacher (I could almost smell the pan he was chewing), the tilted sticker of ‘Mother Mary’ on the glass door and the ‘tadka’ on the dal, couldnt have been captured better on the most expensive Arriflex on earth. For once, I absolutely did not mind the noisy kids inside PVR Saket or their squeaky shoes. In fact, it was a refreshing change to see such a long queue of boys and girls lining up for popcorn!
Watch this film, not because you were a fan of ‘Children of Heaven’, not because you support independent film, not because you want to take your child to a film without item numbers – but because this is the purest transition of an idea from heart to celluloid, that you will see in a while.
PS: Dont miss:
1. The opening animation of ‘Amole Gupte Cinema’
2. Divya Jagdale’s brilliant portrayal, which is an ode to all science teachers in India!