Thought Box



by Svanik Surve June 6 2024, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 27 secs

Devdutt Trivedi, a film scholar, reassesses Mani Kaul's cinema in his book "Cine-Interiors: The Films Of Mani Kaul," which is reviewed by Svanik Surve.

Devdutt Trivedi’s "Cine-Interiors" offers a dynamic analysis of Mani Kaul's films, revealing the intricate layers of his cinematic vision. Through an abstract approach, Trivedi provides invaluable insights into Kaul's unique style, making this book a vital resource for admirers of Indian cinema.

Mani Kaul is a unique figure in Indian cinema, known for his films that explore the evolving psyche of the Indian mind, resulting in a filmography that is both deliberate in its slow psychological exploration and radical in addressing the expansive post-colonial rhetoric that emerged in the nation towards the turn of the century.

Trivedi's "Cine-Interiors" delves into Kaul's cinematic intentionality, revealing how his use of the camera offers insights into the internal human condition. The book also connects Kaul's work to broader theoretical discourses in psychoanalysis, metaphysics, linguistics, and even music.

What makes the book particularly engaging is its ability to weave together biographical elements of Kaul's life with the contextual backdrop of his filmmaking, all while maintaining a comprehensive overview of Kaul's complex, esoteric style. Trivedi’s dynamic, filmography-sensitive approach allows the book to resonate differently with each reader. For example, in his analysis of "Light Apparel," Trivedi examines the film scene by scene, transitioning from initial political observations to deeper psychic interpretations as the film progresses. This method mirrors the film's own structure, offering insights that a regular viewer might miss.  

The author indulges in multiple philosophical topics while maintaining the logical framework established at the beginning of the book. This approach allows for an analysis of the filmmaker that is uniquely comprehensive. In hindsight, it becomes clear that attempting to analyse Mani Kaul's entire filmography through a singular lens, such as psychoanalysis or gender studies, would be problematic. Kaul's work inherently defies such narrow boundaries of philosophical discourse. By avoiding these clichés, common among mainstream film writers in India, Trivedi proves to be the ideal mind to decrypt his enigmatic subject by the book's conclusion.

The author of "Cine-Interiors" manages to both listen to and respond to Mani Kaul's films, creating a lively and engaging reading experience. For students like myself who are beginning our filmmaking journeys, the practical insights on filming specific contexts are invaluable, demonstrating how style can address the broader philosophical challenges of using the camera.

For instance, connecting the exploration of the mind’s mutability with the context of a museum in "Mati Maanas" (1985) shows how Kaul weaves multiple considerations into a cohesive yet abstract unit.

In this way, "Cine-Interiors" becomes an essential addition to the limited serious analysis available on Mani Kaul. By the end of the book, it becomes clear that Trivedi's painstaking effort to decrypt the larger-than-life films of this director is an admirable act of genuine cinephilia, especially in a country that often prefers more formulaic masala blockbusters.

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