Storytelling

Before coming to india, I wouldn’t begin to claim I knew the first thing about its film history, themes or structure. After today, however, I can now say I have an extremely spall understanding. We were given the honor and privilege of receiving lectures from 3 different speakers: Somnath Sen gave a very impactful speech – comparing and contrasting the differences between western and south asian storytelling down to the history. While western writers base the majority of their storytelling principles on the model scribed by Aristotle, Indians tend to base their stories on the Natyashastra. In my previous attempts at watching South eastern cinema, I found this disconnect very troubling. But given this new context, many of the films I’ve watched are more digestible in hindsight.   Screen writer Anjum Rajabali went into greater detail about story and how they relate to the gods. He started his lecture by asking us exactly what we wanted to know. He then proceeded to tell us how different elements of indian cinema, such as dance and, are planted into the screenplays to convey the 9 emotions expected.   Finally, Production Designer Salim Arif compared and contrast Raj Kapoors Ranbir Raj from Mr. 400 and John Travoltas Tony Manero from Saturday Night Fever. In their introductory scenes, both characters have theme songs expressing their emotional beliefs and their particular outlook on life which will eventually be challenged over the course of the film.

Tony views himself as a woman’s man with ‘no time to talk’. Despite his dead end job and limited skills and resources, he’s working hard to get the material things he wants out of life with hopes of eventually finding happiness. 

VS

Ranbir is a bagarbon who comes to the big city hoping to make a honest living. Initially, despite the meager conditions of his country and their dependence on other nations for commerce, he still has faith in his allegiance to India.

To make my own inference this type of introductory song is also very prevalent in Disney princes animated films. The main difference, however, is the princes always feels she is missing something out of life. This void is usually filled in an unorthodox way soon after the song is sung.

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