Thursday, November 11, 2010

In Her Eyes...

There’s an interesting scene in that awful piece of yarn-spinning we were subjected to in the name of Anjaana Anjaani. Yes, believe me. There IS one interesting scene.

At the seedy motel where they stay in Las Vegas, the film observes Priyanka Chopra applying kaajal in front of a mirror before going to a party. While this is happening, she- and we- watch Ranbir Kapoor step out of the bathroom, wearing only his jeans, hair still wet. She pauses, and turns around to stare at him. At this point, the camera slowly, lovingly explores his bare chest, as she clearly admires what she sees: a shirtless, smouldering Ranbir, enveloped in steam emanating from the shower, a bit of shaving cream on his lip.


Before you start thinking of witty comments, let me clarify why I find this scene interesting.

I find this scene interesting because Priyanka Chopra doesn’t get a counter-part scene. When was the last time you saw the man in the film exposing his body while the woman ogled, and not the other way around? (I can think of a small scene in Jodha Akbar, but, in all fairness, that film was stuck in period film constraints). Another scene set in a night club early on in the film has Ranbir showing his spiel in trying to seduce her, while she, charmed and willing, just enjoys it. And, contrary to all Hindi film trends, she never tries to seduce him. In fact, we don’t even have a similar opportunity to heave a cold sigh about her. It is almost a role-reversal, with Ranbir doing the skin-show as well as the seduction numbers, and Priyanka- and all the women watching the film- being the appreciative spectators.

In her seminal 1975 essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”, Laura Mulvey introduced a term that seems obvious today, yet is as much a part of popular art as heroes and villains: “Male gaze”. Mulvey states that in film women are typically the objects, rather than the possessors, of gaze because the control of the camera (and thus the gaze) comes from factors such as the as the assumption of heterosexual men as the default target audience for most film genres. While this was more true in the time it was written, when Hollywood protagonists were overwhelmingly male, the base concept of men as watchers and women as watched still applies today, despite the growing number of movies targeted toward women and that feature female protagonists. In Hindi cinema, where ‘chick flicks’ are still an alien and unprofitable term, films are almost entirely male-driven: be it the film-makers, the crew or the audience. Hence, the term ‘male gaze’ is even more applicable here today.

This is where the above scenes become matters of interest. Ranbir is also famous (notorious, perhaps)for his startlingly candid towel-dance in his debut, Saawariya. What is truly remarkable in that film, as well as in the scenes outlined above, is that the while they represent a break from the norm of ‘male gaze’, they don’t try and level the playing field, in the way a Dostana did, by equally showcasing the bodies of both Priyanka Chopra as well as John Abraham. With Ranbir, we aren’t just ogling him as an object, we are ogling ONLY him as an object. The women (Sonam Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra respectively) are shown in relatively conservative mode vis-à-vis the man. Sure, Priyanka Chopra is dolled up in the film, and looks adequately sexy with the shorts and mini-skirts, but even she is not given the slow-motion ogle-fest that Ranbir provides us.

Could it be that Ranbir Kapoor represents, in Indian cinema, the advent of the ‘female gaze’? We can discount any efforts on the film-makers parts: both Bhansali and Siddharth Anand are heterosexual men who have, in the past, objectified beautiful women beautifully; successful female directors who would ordinarily be expected to lead such feminist waves are busy making Katrina Kaif look sexier than ever.

Certainly, the growing voice of women in every sphere of life today, as well as their increasing independence, plays a part in this. Women today aren’t particularly coy about what they like, and desire their opinion to be counted. Yet, it is strange that only Ranbir kapoor’s films reflect this trend. Sure, women ogled at Hrithik Roshan too, who regularly plays to all the female galleries, yet every Dhoom 2 contains a Crazy Kiya Re, every Kites has a Barbara Mori in a bikini. The first Indian superstar, Rajesh Khanna, too had his share of female admirers, yet not only were his films equally devoted to showcasing female beauty, the female gaze wasn’t as pervasive or vehement.

The female gaze only becomes noteworthy in cases where the women in the films are not reciprocating the gaze. As I mentioned, while films like Dhoom 2, Om Shanti Om and Dostana objectify the male, they do not qualify since the women here too are objects- these are simply films attempting to appeal to both the genders, and in the process reduce all their characters to lust-worthy objects.

The female gaze is not an unheard of trend in Hollywood, with a sharper dissection of audiences and female-centric films being profitable. Films like Sex and the City focus so heavily on a female audience that the heroines of the female can happily be active possessors of the gaze, making- or reducing- men to objects to be had.

It seems, then, that Ranbir Kapoor has brought about films where his body is the object, rather than the woman’s, consequently making women the active gazers. What this says for the future of Hindi films and popular art- if anything- is hard to say. It may just be a transient phase, it may just be odd occurrences my immature mind is forcing trends upon, or it may even be the advent of the appreciation of the woman’s point of view.

Whatever is the case, Ranbir Kapoor has gone beyond being simply a poster-boy to being a harbinger of an alien concept into Indian popular cinema. Coupled with a time of sky-rocketing sexual confidence in women, Ranbir Kapoor may actually manage, in the annals of Indian cinema, to become more than just the next superstar. He may just become the first public embrace of the female gaze.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I recently revisited Woody Allen's magnificently shot, moody, sympathetic dramedy "Manhattan". As I watched those spectacular images- drenched in Gershwin's music- wash over me, two scenes etched themselves into my mind with a force that can only come with fond familiarity. The first was the justly celebrated scene of Woody Allen and Diane Keaton walking among the planetarium on a rain-soaked New York afternoon. And the second was the equally effective- and deceptively simple- scene before the climax where Woody Allen, lying on his couch, depressed, contemplates a list of all the things that make life worth living.

I was inspired, and here, in random order, is mine.

1. Scorsese's films.

2. Gulzar's poetry.

3. Jazz.

4. A strong frappe- no ice cream, no chocolate sauce- with good writing to enjoy.

5. Unexpected, random e-mails from estranged friends.

6. A warm walnut brownie with hot chocolate sauce.

7. Her face.

8. Watching a child who has just learnt how to walk stumble around in a store to a beat no one else can hear while his parents are busy shopping.

9. The first rains.

10. The damp onset of spring.

11. Glorious, lazy sunday mornings which combine the possibility of a whole day of freedom lying in store with the urgency of only one whole day of freedom lying in store.

12. Her exclaiming "How did you know that I was just thinking about you?" as soon as she picks up my call.

13. The unending re-runs of F.R.I.E.N.D.S- each episode, with dialogues I know by heart and characters I love beyond belief, feels like a warm blanket I have been using for years.

14. Reading essays I have written eons ago, detachedly musing at the passionately discussed themes which seem irrelevant now, marveling at some ingenious choice of words, chuckling at a forgotten splash of acidic wit.

15. Watching her eyes sparkle as she figures out the murder mystery before the TV detectives.

16. "Indiana Jones", "Casablanca", "The Godfather", "Taxi Driver", "DDLJ", "Swades". Spending hours in front of the mirror after viewing any of these films once again; emulating the leading man and observing the physical similarities between them and me which unfortunately no one else has ever been able to see.

17. Walking, hand-in-hand; irrespective of whether it's around the shining lobbies of a mall on a Saturday afternoon, or across a jubilant park on an Autumn Sunday evening.

18. The arrival of the paycheck after the last few, agonisingly slow and miserly days of each month.

19. The electricity flying through my nerves- faster and faster as the third bell approaches- on the opening day of my plays.

20. The triumphant surge of pride when she laughs at one of my lame jokes.

Mr Allen, what else can a man possibly want? If life, along with all its pain, insanity and disappointments, also has the above around in any permutation-combination, then the ride will forever be worth it.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Hold your breath. Are you ready? Are you sure you want to know? Okay, here goes. These are the confessions of my petty soul, things I am afraid to admit even to myself. Don't complain later that I didn't warn you.

I have never seen a Kurosawa film. I am haunted by both that fact as well as my fear of boredom.

I thought "Dev.D" was a failure, and Anurag Kashyap is hugely over-rated.

I think Shahrukh Khan is a great actor.

My alter ego is a mix of SRK in "Swades" and SRK in "Mohabbatein", with a liberal dash of Holden Caulfield.

I am beyond dreadful at managing my money.

I cannot stand the self-seriousness with which people underline their opinions when discussing cinema. Let me enlighten you, my friend- no one could care less how you feel yesterday's film could have been improved!

I believe, from the bottom of my heart, that- give or take a couple of people- everyone one I know is an idiot.

I have overpowering urges to slap people who believe themselves to be cinephiles, and happily distribute their opinions on what they believe is 'Cinema' without knowing anything about Scorsese, Guru Dutt or Buster Keaton. If you liked "Kites" and/or "Singh is King", I am talking to you.

I am a hopeless romantic, and proudly (albeit discreetly) possess a firm, unshakeable belief in love. I love both "Casablanca" and "When Harry Met Sally". I also love "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai".

I love watching all the mundane chick flicks with my girlfriend, because I love the way her face lights up when she laughs at a stupid joke.

I love shopping. Yup. I truly enjoy the high of holding my girlfriend's hand, walking around a mall, peering into windows, waiting outside trial rooms, nodding at her in approval, and handing over my cards to the tellers.

In line with all those who get money suddenly after a lifetime of poverty, I truly relish the rush the power of money brings to me.

I have huge pangs of insecurity when I read something written in such a fluid manner that I know I could never match it.

I have huge pangs of insecurity when I meet someone taller than me.

I have huge pangs of insecurity when I feel people won't get my weird, off-the-wall humour.

I truly wish more people understood my unfortunate neither-here-nor-there accent.

I am never too bothered by people richer, better looking or smarter than me. But bring me someone who has more films in his/her collection, and watch me panic!

I try very hard to pretend that I know what is going on in the world of sports- in truth, most of it comes from catching sports results on rediff.

I don't know how to hold a cricket bat. I invariably hold it like Aamir Khan did in "Lagaan"- that comes naturally to me.

I would rather have coffee with my girlfriend than beer with the guys.

I have never seen a single episode of "LOST", and don't feel that I have missed anything. I am proud to say that I feel no pressure to watch it, nor any feelings of being an outcast. I also don't feel any need to watch a show in order to be a part of a larger collective.

I don't feel tense or anxious at all for things -like money, careers and success- that give the rest of the world tension and anxiety attack; and that worries me. A little bit.

I am extremely paranoid that one day people will catch up to me and realise that everything I do, everything I say, everything about me is a facade- that I know nothing about directing plays, writing scripts, making films, or anything else for that matter, and my entire life is a process 0f very intricately masking that fact.

There. I said it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Raat Bhar Bujhte Huye Rishte Ko Taapa Humnein...

On one of my aimless wanderings through the blogosphere, I came across the following poem by (his holiness) Gulzar. It is less commonly known than, say, "Dastak", but it has to be read to be believed- unforgettable imagery, almost unbearable pain and loss, and universal feelings expressed with a stunning intensity.

"ALAAV" by Gulzar

Raat bhar sard hawa chalti rahi
Raat bhar humnein alaav taapa
Maine maazi se kai khushk si shaakhein kaati
Tumne bhi guzre huye lamhon ke patte tode
Maine jebon se nikali sabhi sukhi nazmein
Tumne bhi haathon se murjhaaye huye khat khole
Apni in aankhon se maine kai maanze tode
Aur haathon se kai baasi lakeerein phenki
Tumne palkon pe nami sookh gayi thi, so gira di

Raat bhar jo bhi mila ugte badan par humko
Kaat ke daal diya jalte alaavon main use
Raat bhar phoonkon se har lau ko jagaye rakha
Aur do jismon ke indhan ko jalaye rakha
Raat bhar bujhte huye rishte ko taapa humnein...


Where would the world of poetry- and this poor, inarticulate society- be without people like Gulzar who can bring such velvety expressions to pain and loss?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I went to my college yesterday.

I happened to be in the neighbourhood, and, after the customary meal of a kathi roll at Nazim’s and a strawberry shake at Keventer’s, I found myself gazing in the general direction of my college.

What the hell, I figured. It had been a long time- and who knew when I would be here again? The last time I was here was three years ago, to collect my marksheet, when I had met a couple of my teachers.

Would I meet someone again, I wondered? Even at this late afternoon hour? And if I did, what would I say? Should I be bothered that I haven’t shaved? I digress, but why is it that we feel compelled to leave a good impression on near-strangers simply because we meet them again after a long time? I hardly cared what they thought of me when I used to see them every day- and I would perhaps never meet them again.

I crossed the street and started shuffling towards my college. It was a familiar stretch, and yet, curiously new. There was a new bus stop there now, proudly displaying the college’s name. All we had in our time was a crowd of people that the bus drivers instinctively knew to stop in front of. Strange, how much pride a mundane little thing like having your college’s name on a bus stop can bring about.

The little lane leading up to the South Campus canteen (one that the guard never let anyone through) had been opened. I just marveled at the convenience the students would have now, and how much shorter their walk would be. I distinctly remember pleading with the guard there on a daily basis to let us through. Of course, now with a Barista, a Café Coffee Day and other such joints in the Satya Niketan market, the students may no longer understand the importance of the warm Gulab Jamuns, tangy Bunta and Dal-filled Tikkis of the South Campus canteen.

And then, the building came into view. The letters constituting the name of the college had been re-painted recently in a shiny red, and greeted me in a magnificent gesture of false bravado. I walked in, half expecting the guard to stop me and ask what business I had there. However, the guard never did care in the three years I was here, and he did not care now either. Like always, I walked up the small path to the tree which formed a fork in the way- one way to the entrance, the other to the library. And like always, I took the former.

I want to say that the corridors greeted me like a long lost friend. The walls smiled down at me and asked how I have been. The big blackboard which announced the names of the teachers on leave was empty- probably in preparation for the next day. I remember the eagerness with which I would check that board out every morning, hoping with bated breath to find the name of at least one of our teachers there. The canteen ignited evocative memories of great times and samosas, and the classrooms leapt up in joy at the sight of me- which, for them, had always been an admittedly rare sight.

I want to say all that very badly indeed- but if I did, I would be lying.

No such thing happened. The corridors were empty, cold and dark. The stark walls seemed foreboding and aloof, and the classrooms were still strangers- even more so now. I had no awkward meetings with any teachers- even if I had met them, I would nothing to say to them, I realised. The plant pots lining up the bottom step of each staircase seemed new, as did a new cane building in the middle of the grounds. I glimpsed no familiar faces, and no waves of nostalgia swept over me.

This was my college building, for God’s sake!

I stood in the middle of the corridor and tried to figure out why I had none of the romanticized, nostalgic feelings I expected. I have spent the greatest days of my life here, and my head spins with the memories accumulated in this building. Some of the best friends I ever made- or will make- I found here; and it was here, in these very corridors, that I understood the meaning of friendship, love and life, in the process leaving the boy behind and became a man. I should, ideally, feel immense loss, nostalgia and longing for this place.

Why, then, could I not find any such feelings within me?

I spent a long time thinking about this then, and I spent a long time thinking about it afterwards, long after leaving that concrete maze. It slowly dawned upon me then.

This was just my college building.

My memories are not of this place, but of my experiences here. I often feel loss, nostalgia and longing within me, but it is for my friends and the time I have spent with them here, not for these walls and corridors.

I was standing in an empty vessel, rummaging within myself for some semblance of emotion for it, when all my emotions were in fact already with me, because my memories- and more importantly, my friends- were still with me. No soulless concrete structure, no vapid grand institution is going to make me long for days gone by- only my friends can do that; and they will always be with me. And just like my friends, I will forever carry in my heart the memories of the innocent and incredible days gone by.

And when you finally become conscious of being so full with the warmth of your memories, and so saturated with the affection of friends near and far, what space is there within you for anything else?

Nivedita, Abhinav, Kanika and Urvashi- as far as I am concerned, College is You.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Whatever happened to good, exciting, imaginative titles?

My English teacher in high school, whenever she wanted us to write anything good, used to tell us that a story is like a really good burger- a good beginning, an exciting end, with a really meaty middle. Since food analogies have an inexplicably successful way of succeeding with me, I believed that to be a really acute analogy. Imagine, though, if inspite of having the perfect burger in front of you, it was not called a “Whopper” or “Zinger”, but instead something as banal as “The Burger”- or “Bread with Meat in Between”. Who would order that?

You could, of course, argue that no matter what the name, once you discovered its quality, you would order it anyway. It’s a valid argument. However, there is a reason the fast food joints go for zippy names, rather than the aforementioned banalities. A good name, with due respect to that inimitable fellow from Stratford-Upon-Avon, can totally change your outlook and anticipation for its possessor.

I distinctly remember a time when, just because of the sheer strength of the title, a film could make me look forward to it. Imagine the days of “Hero Hiralal”. What a name! Even now, that title can draw out a smile, overpowering the sour after-taste of that film. Imagine the arrival of a film with such a name- who could possibly control their excitement and anticipation? Who would NOT want to see a film like that? The promise a good title brings forth is almost unquantifiably gigantic.

The 70s era art films were particularly rich in fantastic titles. With no stars nor any publicity, all they could hope was that a god title would bring in the crowds. Mr Saeed Mirza, God bless his soul, was a particularly inventive genius with his strange, off-the-wall titles incorporating the leading characters’ names. After all, once a man makes films called “Arvind Desai Ki Ajeeb Dastaan”, “Mohan Joshi Haazir Ho” and “Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro”, you have to take your hat off to him. Without even knowing that he also gave us perhaps the greatest title of all time: “Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai?”

The 80s, the unanimously heralded as the garbage bag of Bollywood, also had their peculiar trend- a title had to SOUND like it promised lots of action. Ergo, “Golimaar”, “Hatya”, “Qayamat”, “Mawaali”, “Ilzaam”, et al. These titles too, if you were the target audience - i.e. male, and between the ages of 10 (too young to remember a better time) and 70 (too old to remember a better time)- could send you into tizzies of excitement, what with the certainty of a plot with plenty of drama and action, spear-headed by the usual multi-star cast (almost every film had a pick-and-mix system of at least three stars amongst Jeetendra, Dharmendra, Shatrughan Sinha, Mithun, Sanjay Dutt, Anil Kapoor and Govinda).

The 90s had their own problem to deal with. I have come to believe that it was an unwritten rule that if a title had fewer than four words in it, financing was near impossible. If the title was a line from an old song, e.g. “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge” or “Hum Hai Rahi Pyaar Ke”, then lo and behold, the world was your oyster. This was a competition intensely fought, and the old war-horse, Anil Kapoor, was an unexpectedly strong candidate, having starred in both “Hum Aap Ke Dil Mein Rehte Hain” as well as “Humara Dil Aap Ke Paas Hai”.

Back when Ram Gopal Verma used to make cinema and RGV was not a leading contender to the throne of ‘the combination of three letters to fear most’ (others being HIV, STD and LeT), even his failures were entertaining. His funny but flawed yarn set in Bollywood, “Mast”, allowed him to make a comment on such titles: Urmila mentions that the film she is working on is called “Hum Aap Ke Dil Mein Reh Kar Hum Aapse Pyaar karne Lage”. At that point of time, RGV was fresh off “Satya”, and held as much promise as Raj Kumar Hirani- hence we laughed. We now realize, of course, that he was the prime force behind the advent of what I refer to as a ‘step-motherly’ treatment of titles.

His films titles, never more than one word long, started off inventively, with examples like “Rangeela”, “Kaun” and “Company”. Then, however, almost imperceptibly, yet harmoniously in sync with the quality of their possessors, the titles too began to sink: “Darling”, “Agyaat”, “James”, “Contract”, “Jungle”, “Naach” and- sacrilege!- “Aag”.

Just when his titles were getting too much too bear, along came a man who has, by the sheer success of his settings-masquerading-as-films, made a mockery out of both the Box Office as well as the National Awards. Madhur Bhandarkar, also known as the ticket to national awards (if you are either female or Atul Kulkarni), believes titles to be the greatest nuisance since tax planning. You can almost taste his disinterest and irritation when he names his films: “Page 3”, for a film based on Page 3; “Traffic Signal” for a film based around a traffic signal; “Fashion” for a film set in the world of… You guessed it. Hmmm… I wonder what he would title a film set in a jail?

These are not titles, Mr Bhandarkar, they are labels. I know it must have physically pained you to call you film on policemen “Aan”, as opposed to your trademark “Police”, but I will forever be highly grateful for small mercies.

Giving a film a title is as much an art as giving it music. However, this is an industry which is yet to understand it. Apart from the rare “Dev.D” or the magnificently titled “Kaminey”, when was the last time a film made you sit up and take notice simply by virtue of its title?

How I weep when I think of the amazing titles films could have had! Why favour the faithful-yet-bland “Omkara” over Bhardwaj’s original and far more evocative choice “Issak”? Why let ridiculous polls name your heroine-dominated rom-com “Jab We Met” instead of the spunky “Bhatinda Express”, or “Punjab Mail” as originally envisaged? I am glad that “My Name Is Khan” won out over “Khan”, but even that’s only slightly better. And “3 Idiots”? Come on- even Chetan Bhagat managed a better title!

Yet, I am relieved to say, there is hope. Just like in the 70s, the off-beat films come your rescue. Dibakar Bannerjee is particularly ingenious, what with “Khosla Ka Ghosla”, “Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye” and the forthcoming “Love, Sex aur Dhokha (LSD)”. Shimit Amin too holds a lot of promise: “Ab Tak Chhappan”, “Chak De India” and “Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year” are all fantastic titles, making the products seem twice as intriguing.

In an age when the news of a just announced film can reach the entire world within seconds, a smart title can make all the difference with respect to both the promotions, as well as the curiosity factor. With “Kaminey”, a film that intrigued its audience for months before its release with both its excellent title as well as the secrecy of its plot, Vishal Bhardwaj proved a very simple fact to his favourite source: A rose will indeed smell as sweet by any other name. But would a Juliet covet it were it called a Cauliflower?

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I am truly exasperated of those “the-book-was-better-no-the-film-is-better” discussions. I have gone through so many of those- and strangely, many in the past few days- that I am compelled to write this. I plan to refer whoever has an issue in this regard to this entry.

I have often heard- usually prompting impatient sighs from me- about how books are always better than the films they inspire. With all due respect to all those who believe this- that’s not true. Don’t mistake my opinions for the ranting of a passionate cinezine: what I am saying is simply the result of a lot of thinking and almost-scholarly analysis.

It is true that great books almost never translate into decent films- the mind buzzes with examples, right from various horrifying Shakespeare adaptations to recent tragedies like ‘The Kite Runner’ and the Harry Potter films. Moreover, even when good books do spawn good films, the latter always pale away in comparison to their literary roots- be it ‘The Godfather’ or ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. Then there are some classics which are virtually unfilmable- ‘Catch-22’, for instance.

However, it is important to note that there are several great films that have been adapted from rather mediocre books. Be it ‘The Magnificent Ambersons’, ‘Masoom’, ‘Million Dollar Baby’ and even ‘L.A.Confidential’. This, then, just reinforces the question- which are better, books or films?

The answer, I’m afraid, isn’t as simple as all that. We can’t just tally up the number of film adaptations which were improvements on the book and compare it as a number to adaptations which were disasters. In order for us to arrive at the spectacular moment of truth where we all discover the hidden wisdom behind all this (perhaps accompanied by a collective “Ooohhhh”) we must take a slightly scholarly detour around this subject.

Let us take an example- say, Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ (TKAM), my all time favourite book. It was also turned into a surprisingly good 1962 Robert Mulligan film starring Gregory Peck (in his career best performance- but then, what a role!). Nevertheless, it was clearly not in the same league as the book- which, let’s face it, given Lee’s experiential, observatory, first hand narrative, it never could be. There are many who defend this film with the argument that there are certain basic differences in storytelling between a book and a film; and, in cinema, with its constrained framework of time and space, it is not possible to translate the story in a better fashion. While that may be true- and even I have difficulty imagining a better adaptation of the novel without using a TV serial format (which has lesser constraints and allows one to examine and depict finer details) - allow me to propose another theory.

Given the story and theme of TKAM, it is possible to relay it using various formats- for instance, as a short story, a poem, a drawing, etc, besides the novel and the film which it already is. These different formats are called ‘mediums of expression’, and, for every given message/story/idea that is to be conveyed, there are several such mediums of expression, of which one must be chosen such that it is the best suited for the material at hand. For instance, when Javed Akhtar was moved by the things he witnessed on a visit to Kargil in 1999, he felt a need to express his feelings- and, after a lot of thought, rejected his usual mode of poetry in favour of cinema- and ‘Lakshya’ was born.

Now, ideally, the medium chosen must be the one in which the material attains maximum effectiveness. So, while the story of TKAM may be effective in various mediums, it would clearly have the maximum impact as a novel, since that medium allows it the space to document each and every one of the fine details which make the story such a heart-warming, touching affair.

All this theory about mediums of expression- while scholarly and reasonable- still doesn’t explain the debate between books and films. Then, you are justified in asking, why have you been reading all this, listening to me going on and on? Well, friends, it is because it is this theory of mediums of expression on which the next segment is based.

Yes, there is another segment to go.

Once a piece of art achieves its ultimate form in a given medium of expression (say, the way TKAM does in novels, or Citizen Kane does as a film, or “If” does as a poem) then it cannot achieve the same level of quality in another medium. That is to say, every piece of art has a given medium of expression in which its form and impact is maximized- the ideal medium for that piece, if you will; once that content has been put in that ideal medium of expression, it will not achieve the same effect in any other medium.

Therefore, a general debate on “books vs films” is rather naïve. The question is, has the piece of art achieved its utmost form? If so, then no other medium will equal it. That is why, a great book like TKAM will lead to a good, albeit disappointing film adaptation, while a mediocre book like “The Bridges of Madison County” will lead to a great film.