Lighting up the dark

There are scenes that stay with you. They don't leap out but slowly touch your skin, your eyes; you can smell the pain, the pining; taste the slivers of light. Kaaghaz ke Phool remains one of my favourite films, and a lot of it has to do with how it could be seen. Guru Dutt's magnificent paean to angst was to a large extent realised by his cinematographer V.K.Murthy, who is now gone to another world of lights.

The only tribute I can pay is with a few images from just one film. He has many more that he lit up...with shadows...


  1. void *Al() {return NULL;}08/04/2014, 06:36

    Hello FV, black and white movies have a charm of their own..perhaps shades of gray say more than colors. And Waheeda Rehman is just gorgeous. Need to put these old hindi movies on my bucket list for a rainy day.

  2. FV,

    Another luminary in the field of cinematography, V Babasaheb who has a permanent place on the proverbial bollywood walk of fame for his work in 'Ganga Jumna' and 'Seema' besides numerous other blockbusters, also passed away on 05th April 2014.

  3. Al:

    You will watch Hindi movies? See, I can get people to do things they never did!


    Thank you for the reminder. I just checked and realised almost every film he was the cinematographer of. Just says so much about how little we pay attention to behind-the-scenes people even in such a crucial field.

    Part of the reason is also that the directors hog the limelight. In V.K.Murthy's case, Guru Dutt always mentioned him and also his writer Abrar Alvi.

  4. void *Al {return NULL;}10/04/2014, 02:18

    FV:"You will watch Hindi movies? See, I can get people to do things they never did!"

    FV, You make me sound like the sister of Nagesh's character in a Tamil Classic "Kaathalikka Neramillai" (Too Busy for Romance) back from the 60s who replies to her wannabe movie director brother "I don't watch Tamil films, I watch only english films" (to which her brother replies "just you wait. after my movie, you will be saying "I don't want english films, I only watch tamil films").

    I refuse to watch any movie (regardless of language) that requires a handkerchief or adjust one's mindset to that of a 10 year old or a teen suffering from a testosterone overdose. Have seen plenty of movies on Doordarshan in the 80s including Gol maal and various shammi kapoor movies which I thought was fun...lately tamil movies by unknown independent (and low budget) directors/actors are a lot fun with exceptional talent. Just can't stand big budget BS that pervades Indian moviemaking -- dislike song and dance sequences that seem to always happen at the wrong time and don't really seem to need a reason in Hindu (and Tamil) bug budget movies.


    "He's Dead! Oh my god what will happen now. This is the end of the world"
    (scene ends and abruptly changes to a scene with some couple dancing and running around trees in some hill station singing "you stole my heart like a thief who steals cycle tyres" or something equally romantic)...or something similar

  5. Apropos the comment above.

    The song-dance idiom is unique to Indian cinema. Its sociological origins, even merits and demerits, can be debated. But citing that as a reason to trash popular Indian cinema as a whole is philistinism in the disguise of high taste.

  6. void *Al {return NULL;}10/04/2014, 21:59

    with respect the above comment on my comment,

    This is art and everyone has an opinion on it, as is the nature of such things etc., so I sneer at accusations of "philistinism" with the appropriate level of contempt it deserves. I am just saying that it is not sufficient to stop me from leaving the theater before the movie is over, but that's just me. And that's just another opinion. I really could give a rat's arse about the sociological origins of Indian cinema or other pretentious crap -- I pay money and expect to be told a story and keep me occupied for the duration of the movie, without having to consider whether I should be out getting a coffee and taking a walk rather than sit through the movie. I also place movies like "Bride and Prejudice" and other boring crap produced by NRI directors/writers in the above category. And like I said, it is just another opinion, so deal with it.

    To clarify, Song and dance is all well and good, and if the point is better gotten across via a song rathet than dialogue, that's fine. However, terms like "item girl" and "item number" indicate that such words originate because of indiscriminate use of song and dance scenes as a filler for story -- may as well make music videos of it, rather than force it in a movie arbitrarily, as is often the case.

    The point is breaking into song and dance on a whim distracts from the storytelling, but that is only for people who view movies as a form of story telling, as opposed to a way of highlighting Indian culture via song and dance.

    Indian popular cinema, like hollywood B-movies and "blockbusters" seems mostly mindless nonsense, where the actors and scriptwriters don't do their homework on the topics they portray on screen.

    This is all well and good if you think Mac laptops can interface with that of an invading race of aliens while Will Smith kicks some alien butt or people dance around while there is a murder to be resolved and various violent people wandering around doing stuff in the story so far.

    But hey, if you can sit through 3 hours of song and dance, or story worthy of a high school drama for that amount of time, and also feel highly patriotic about it and proud of Indian cinema and its interesting sociological origins, that's just great. knock yourself out.


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