Magic by Ajinkya Shenava

14 12 2009

Reality. Nothing I can describe with my weapons of embellishment, distortion and elevated prose could ever burn its imprint on you and erase the original. It’s like an orgasm. The ecstasy of vision often assaults the drudgery of thought. And when thought is completely decimated. When all feeling is experiential. There is that moment of silence…what Linklater might have called the ‘holy moment’….

….But again this is an endeavour to trace the trajectory of a reality “out there” and the failure of an attempt like this has been prophesised long before it began. But Alas, ‘words are all I have to play with’…

The tremendous insignificance of my task is apparent. I am merely an understudy lost in a crowd of vacillating Hamlets. Hard-wiring reality is an uneasy task for the best. A lot of fun but still Herculean. Like setting out on a leaky boat to an indiscernible destination. Looking for the golden fleece protected by a cluster of bewitching, scantily clad maidens. The distractions and illusions are several. Maybe the trick is to stop looking and forget about the fleece.  Maybe the discovery lies in the ignorance, in the surprise of confronting the sacred……

‘Life is a matter of a miracle that is collected over time by moments, flabbergasted to be in each other’s presence.’

Indeed the surprising dexterity with which reality weaves itself often eludes me. I seldom see the inscape of a leaf slowly stooping with the weight of a dewdrop like a note too heavy for a morning raag, dropped but not unnoticed. I do not want to diminish the beauty of a moment by staining it with meaningless shringaar. It is for you to see. Its existence is unarguable.

The Video Camera is testimony to that.

My hypothesis is highly presumptuous. How can a construction – a machine, a purveyor of artifice – be a mediator of the real. The sacred. It is not the mechanism itself but the role it plays in this comedy of perception.

The reek of distortion is overwhelming. With documentary the question becomes even more political. Who decides what is socially progressive and relevant? What is your authority for didacticism? In fact who says the fly-on-the wall sees things objectively? And why do you assume that the auteur has not fallen into the pickle he stirs and the film is not merely an attempt to assuage conscience while he dislodges himself from it?

In fact the issue of a “message” is so controversial and overrated that it might even reach that point of peril where the notion of death of the author ceases to be metaphorical.

But I’m jumping the gun here. Ideology preempts seeing. And it is the seeing that I am interested in.

The camera is magical. Like a wand. When you see through it you are creating and at the same time marking yourself out as an agent of mimesis. Moreover you are borrowing heavily from a text that lets you be witness to its unfolding. You are creatively plagiarizing from an impeccable auteur. Creating intertextualities within time and space. You might be a speck in a pantheon of thousands. But you’re still a trailblazer. Your claim to fame lies not in the novelty of your outlook but the meaning you find in the everyday. The dislodging of the unnatural, the magical from the mundane. Moreover, the hope that this construction will arouse an elevated sensitivity in yourself and the watcher remains.

Indeed, the delight that surfaces from a shot (however inadequate) of a crow flying off a railing, or a bus screaming across the still frame of an illuminated shrine, or out of focus cars gradually dissolving into sharpness from between the leaves of a plant outruns metaphor. My joy like the apocryphal child opening his presents might be momentary. It might even be residual; a distillation of centuries of obsession with the unnatural and the inability to digest a reality that transcends our blinkered gaze.

But the illusion is fulfilling, More importantly, the challenge of making meaning out of footage is highly engaging. Even the artifice beckons, for a collection of shots can mean anything as Kuleshov showed us decades ago.

The technology might be befuddling but it is what it is used for and how it is udes that makes it less intimidating. Like an old fashioned Bajaj scooter with sidecar, the strartup and handling might be a problem but once it starts it is makhan, my friend, makhan.

‘We are all co-authors of this dancing exuberance where even our inabilities are having a roast.’

– From Waking Life