Solidity of “Is But Is Not”

Shri Shrikant Gautam has presented a wonderful concept of “Is But Is Not” in the Hindi Films, in his article, the title of which is roughly translated as “Solidity of Is  But Is Not”, in his weekly column “Rang Raag” in Madhuvan supplement of Janamabhoomi Pravasi, Mumbai in its issue of 19th August,2012.

The concept that he has picked up for discussion is absolutely novel. The subject of the discussion is that character, which has significant impact on the story of the movie, but the character itself is, physically, not to be “seen” in the entire film, but is to be “felt” only –through the dialogues which refers to that character or the actions that protagonists take [or do not take, as the case may be] under the ‘unseen’ guiding influence of that character.

To explain the concept, he uses a very simple, by highly effective, hypothetical story: Shekhar boasts with his friend circle that he has played a role in the latest Hritik Roshan starrer. So, naturally, the whole team visits the cinema hall, on the first day, first show, to see that movie. They fail to locate Shekhar. Thinking that he must be under some form of disguise for that role, they repeat seeing the film in the successive shows, but with no positive result. When they ask Shekhar , Shekhar says” Did you not listen  Hrithik’s mother telling him of a letter received by his younger brother, from Kochi. I am that younger brother.”

Shri Gauatm has picked up five case studies.

In Shakti Samanta film, Amar Prem, (1972)  [Eternal Love] starring Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore, the hero, Anandbabu is wealthy, but dejected and lonely. The reason is his wife, who is ‘shown’ to be busy in her own world, so much so that Anandbabu hardly seems to exist in her world. This is the fundamental undercurrent that fashions the whole films.

Similarly, Sunil Dutt’s mono-character film, Yaadein,  (1964)[Memories] would be rated as one of the most experimental films ever on Hindi Film arena. The film moves through the “eyes’ of the chief protagonist, through his monologues. He talks to his wife, his children, he remembers the moments he has lived with them, but these characters are to be felt only – by their dialogues, their images, two songs which run in the background. The storyline of this movie which revolved around fights between a husband-wife, her leaving the house and then her return was appreciated all over.

The [virtual] Trivedi is the root-cause for a  growing, close friendship between two chief protagonists –Anand (Rajesh Khanna) and Dr. Bhaskar (Amitabh Bachchan) in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s epochal film ‘Anand’ (1971). It was that Delhi-based Trivedi’s note which introduces Anand , and his terminal disease, to Dr. Bhaskar in Mumbai.

Govind Nihalani’s ‘Rukamavati Ki Haveli’ (1991) [Rukamavati’s Mansiom] was an all-female cast film. The story is about friction among advanced- middle-age women, the daughters and their maid on account of that ‘presence’ of the man whom one of the daughters courts love.

Basu Chatterjee’s ‘Ek Ruka Hua Faisla (1986)  [A Stalled Judgement] is the story of 12 male Jurors, assembled to arrive at a verdict on a case against a juvenile boy, who is alleged to have committed murder of his father. The story is about prejudices of the individuals, their right or not-so-right beliefs and their emotional, many a a times quite heated, discussions to reach a unanimous decision about that in-absentia boy. Incidentally, the story is considered to be based on a English film –“Twelve Angry Men” (1957), which in turn was adapted from a 1954 play by the same name.. A Gujarati stage play ‘Maanas Naame Kaaraagar’ [A Man Named as Prison] is also a quite creative adaptation from this film.

Shri Shrikant Gauatam’s column is known to pick up quite a different points-of-view-hypothesis, and then build equally interesting case studies to validate that hypothesis. But the present article has surpassed own high standards of the column in picking up the topic of “Be [always there] by not Being’ characters and /or “ Is Not by Being [virtually]Is” cinematic personalities.

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Author: ASHOK M VAISHNAV

In July 2011, I opted to retire from my active career as a practicing management professional. In the 38 years that I pursued this career, I had opportunity to work in diverse capacities, in small-to-medium-to-large engineering companies. Whether I was setting up Greenfield projects or Brownfield projects, nurturing the new start-ups or accelerating the stabilized unit to a next phase growth, I had many more occasions to take the paths uncharted. The life then was so challenging! One of the biggest casualty in that phase was my disregards towards my hobbies - Be with The Family, Enjoy Music form Films of 1940s to mid-1970s period, write on whatever I liked to read, pursue amateur photography and indulge in solving the chess problems. So I commenced my Second Innings to focus on this area of my life as the primary occupation. At the end of four years, I am now quite a regular blogger. I have been able to build a few very strong pen-relationships. I maintain contact with 38-years of my First Innings as freelance trainer and process facilitator. And yet, The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.

5 thoughts on “Solidity of “Is But Is Not””

  1. This is a most interesting topic. There must be many more such instances in Hindi films / other films. You have to be an avid movie-watcher to remember such instances, though.

  2. Really very interesting post. I remember “Party” was such film. The protagonist is a Naxalite and an urban intellectual too. All of his friends gather for a party but he does not come. His absence is so overpowering that everyone speaks of him and by their dialogue he becomes the central character. He enters the scene grievously injured and without a dialogue the film ends.His absence is much more powerful than the absence of the young man in ‘Ek Ruka hua Faisla’.

    Another film by Mrinal Sen ‘Ek Din Achanak’ also is very interesting. One day suddenly the Father does not turn up after his office hours. They worry all night and express their love, anger, everything for father. The next morning begins and father turns up. No dialogue, nothing…

    You know, Dr. Trivedi of Anand is just a hanger which you use to hang your coat. The boy in Ek Ruka hua Faisla too is a hanger but we do get involved with his fate. But the Party and Ek Din make characters talk about the one who is not present and make the absentee characters much more powerful.

    But the most celebrated stage play cannot be forgotten. It is ‘Waiting for Godot’ Clearly, they only wait and Godot never turns up. The characters on stage themselves become ‘small’ by expecting Godot to come. It is an absurd play and the endless, futile waiting leaves emptiness in your mind.

    In this connection I suggest you read ‘Waiting for the Mahatma’ by K. R.. Narayan.

    1. Indeed, very useful and interesting inputs. Particularly use of metaphor of “hanger”.
      Unfortunately, I have yet not seen Ek Din Achanak or Waiting for Godot nor have read Waiting for Mahatma. Obviously, they are now in my top to-do list.
      I have also forwarded your response to the original writer of the article, Shri Shrikant Gautam.
      In case yo may like to read the original article, here is the link: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B_GJ0xhT0LUuZGNhNTY1R0RySVE

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