Saturday, 18 September 2010

A cut-out case

This report thrilled me. Not only did the eight Congress workers get themselves photographed with a cardboard cut-out of Rahul Gandhi, they also “apprised him of the problems of Agra, particularly of those dealing in leather business”. I think this is a giant step for mankind, even though it must've been a small one for the concerned eight. As the ad-line goes, let me show you how!

How often do we hear complaints from film reviewers that characters seem like cardboard cut-outs with the sole intention of mouthing a few lines, shaking a few legs and populating the frame? Often, very often. I propose future directors to take the criticism literally. Think about this: won't a well-designed cutout of Aishwarya Rai be enough for her part? One, the beauty is there. Two, so is the wooden acting. Three, the deadpan dialogue delivery is "naturalistic" (I mean, get the voice dubbed or something - learn something from Rituparno!). And it's cheap. This could well be the next big step in low-budget film-making after the invention of digital photography. What more, the director can take a cue from the Egregious Eight, and release the following statement in his press conference:

It was a very challenging role for Ash. Her role required restraint. A lack of emotion was the very key of her character. During the shoots, she'd often consult with me if she should underplay her expressions even more. For example, in the climactic showdown, we required seven takes to get her passive expression right.

At the preview screening, there may a few doubts regarding why there were no profile shots of Aishwarya, but the director can dispel them with his explanation.

The role demanded that we see only one 'side' of her character. With my extra-ordinary ability to be literal-minded, I formulated a plan to do this. I would take shots only from the front.

Once some behind-the-scenes footage is accidentally released, the media will go into a tizzy reporting this latest development in the world of entertainment. There will possibly be several critics of this extreme step, but noted film-academician Roger Abhert will defend it. In his words:

At one point in Godard's History of Cinema, he anticipates the death of cinema (He apparently asked Henri Langlois to burn the archives). Death, so that it can rise again from the ashes. “Art is like fire. Born from what it burns.” says Godard and that is precisely what he desires – Cinema to go down with all its exploitations and restrictions and rise in its purest form. Back to infancy, so that it can learn everything out of free will, without rules and without vanity.”

In a world of boring 3D cinema like Avatar, it is worth considering going back to basics. From 2D to 1D. I congratulate whoever thought of using cutouts as actors.

And why only films? Soap serials can also consider taking the step. In fact, they can have several cutouts having different stock expressions - angry, sad, shocked, evil-smiling, sweet-baby-like-smiling, thoughtfully romantic, etc. And all the budget saved from actor salaries can go to more grandiose sets and designer apparel (for the cutouts, of course).

Consider also the tremendous impact this may have on politics. Mamata Banerjee calls a hunger strike - you do or I die - opposing an industrial project and sends a cutout to her dharna. A careful angle of exposure to mediapersons along with an army of aam-janata guarding the cutout can keep her tummy filled; and the project stalled forever.

I think this may also prevent a lot of warfare. Countries can keep their borders lined with cutouts of soldiers. On both sides of the divide. No one fires a shell (since it is difficult to figure out if it's a real soldier or a fake from great distances). Both countries stay "on the alert for enemy-action". Forever.

A last proposition: the Egregious Eight must be given the Idea Cellular "What an idea, sirjee!" award for excellence in brainstorming. Also, I wait for the day when a Dalit feeds a humble Rahul Gandhi cutout in his house.

(NB: Part of the Roger Abhert quote taken from this excellent review of Inglourious Basterds.)

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