Endurance of pain is an idea directly drawn from Christianity. However, in the Indian context, historically, endurance of pain is regarded as un-knowledge, avidya (in Sanskrit an antonym of knowledge, but not ignorance) and nonexistent. It is just not there, here, or anywhere. When the “I, myself” does not exist, who is left to endure pain? This is how the Indian folks respond to any queries about enduring pain, which I am reporting here.
The idea of suffering is very actively present in Andrei Tarkovsky’s films. The construction of imagery in his films appear to be linked to suffering. The Indian New Wave filmmaker, Mani Kaul, has said of Tarkovsky, “The profane is something random, something unorganized, whereas the sacred is an order, an arrangement… not…spiritual… (but) an order because we are making a system. The things outside that system are all in disorder, so in a sense they are all profane. They will engage in a dialogue with the order, and even as they are able to permeate into that system, they will somewhat disfigure it. The sacred space is terrorized by the profane space”. I proceed with this consciousness of tension, in my cinema.
In my film Walking over Water, the practice of filmmaking is presumed as a sin, cinema is sin-ema. Within the interiors of a family and in the exteriors, a drama unfolds in the cultural capital of India, Kolkata. This vibrant city also birthed another artistic filmmaker, Satyajit Ray. He was a master storyteller, while Kaul took on the flight of cinema by engaging more with the medium rather than its narrative potential.
My attempt is to yoke the continuities of story-telling and the medium, with imageries of pain, inherited via these filmmakers, through a non-fictional mosaic, in recalling a tale marked by autobiographical elements, where ‘revealing’ and ‘concealing’ drive the narrative. The movement is from a melancholic interior, towards a celebratory exterior; from disorder to order, vice versa too.
When reality and virtual reality over-lap, cinema must eschew its historical blindness towards encompassing throbbing stories of today. My film is an artistic adventure, avoiding the traditional footnotes of mysteries or bizarre conflicts. It seeks to provoke through its sheer audacity in engaging with the self and with the medium of Cinema unabashedly, which I could call as the self of the cinema.
The writer is a filmmaker and critic based in Kolkata.