An Interview with Aneek Chaudhuri by Barbora Sajmovicova, Ethnologist, Czech Republic
- Hello Aneek, I know about you, that you are progressive artist, writer and photographer who is interested in film making from India. In which city do you live? (Is it your hometown? Do you live there all your life? Describe the city and area where do you live.)
I live in New Delhi, India which is not really the city which I was born in. I was born in Kolkata, and comparing to my native city, my current city, New Delhi is quite contrasting. I have been living here since the last 11 years and people in Delhi is quite mundane to the aspects of culture and hence, I must say that the city is mechanical and natives here value money over life.
- Do you think it is a good city for living and for artist like you? Are there many opportunities for artists like you?
This is not really conducive for liberal artists or artists who are more inclined toward alternative thinking. The people living here possess slightly plain thinking and hence, money generation might be good but there are lesser creative outputs. However, I must appreciate the city for appreciating artists from different regions of the country even when the appreciation does not come from proper or accurate decoding.
- What do you think about Indian culture? What are the main characteristic features of India and Indian culture?
Indian culture is hypocritical. On one hand, when feminists (as they claim to be one) create pieces for the sake of promoting feminism, on the other hand, they might be found to be lacking the etiquette to behave with feminine gender. This does not apply to all, but yes to the majority.
- What are the main characteristic features of Indian people who surround you in everyday life?
As I already outlined the nature of Delhi-ites, I am surrounded by people who lack the basic inclination toward liberal or alternative culture that I have working upon. Hence, it is preferable to be secluded than interacting with them. But mind one, not everyone can be characterized by this.
- What do you think that there are the main disadvantages of living in your city?
Um! There are many to claim. The first and foremost would be the hassle to interact with people that are contrasting to an artist’s mindset. The other would be the consequence of the same, when I find most of the cultural festivals going unnoticed in the city.
- Do you have many friends from another countries (from which countries)? Are they important for you, for sharing artist ideas?
A few from Europe! Yes, they have been quite elemental in exchanging ideologies than ideas. And more importantly, this is due to the fact that I have grown watching European Cinema, following Truffaut, Forman, Goddard, Bazin, De Sica and a lot others to name.
- Do you have any inspirited artist figure? Who is it and can you describe why do you like him/her?
Well, they have to be two, Ritwik Ghatak and Krzysztof Kieslowski. The former one is liked for his excellence in ideologies and the urge to serve Indian Cinema on his own, rather than depending upon the European style of Filmmaking (that was prevalent those days). His inconsistency is quite normal, as brilliance can only be determined by subtracting the inconsistencies in a person that equates one to the derivative of excellence. Kieslowski, on other hand, is admired for his sense of Color that I am trying to absorb in Bengali Cinema.
- Now I would like to ask you about Indian women and their social status. How is it look like life in India for Indian woman?
Status? You mean the duplicitous demeanour, I believe. See, this is a country where Goddesses are worshiped and at the same time, menstruation is treated as unholy. Women during the periods are treated as persons who are condemned to be secluded from worshiping the God. But, I believe that indeed is a stage of nurturing the earth when SHE is termed to have nurtured the land (in books). Apart from this, women are left to live at the mercy of many in this country.
- Do you think that the Indian women are disadvantages compare to the Indian men? Why and in what way? (Please describe)
There are many and I can easily say that it is tougher to be born as a woman in our country. Here, the feminine gender are treated as objects of creations, to say an art piece, poem; however, when it comes to appreciating them in the real world, Indians fail to do so. I mean not all of them.
- Do you think is it a real idea that women in India will have the same social status in the future? Do you think it will be good social development (equal status of men and women) in India?
Ideas are good to be ideated, but speaking of the country, this is not possible. However, if done so, the country will also withdraw the incrementing crime rates.
- There is also big poverty in India, how Indians deal it?
More than poverty, the concern is of unequal development of cities. Poor people have grown a hereditary habit of adjusting to the shortcomings of basic facilities in life. Therefore, dealing with poverty is not that big an issue as we are entitled to this from long. This is not an overnight affair. The class that suffers is the middle class stratum.
- On the other hand, many economic analytics predicted big progress in India, for example in IT? Do you agree with these analytics, do you think that India is on way to the so-called economic boom?
Economic boom is an extension to unequal development. However, the current government is taking steps to the inequality. But taking in consideration the previous years’ analytics (to say five or 10 years from now), the country had presented a blur picture. Actually, IT is now growing intensively.
- Is there some big change that you noticed during his life in India in social development? Are there some significant changes in Indian in the last 20 years?
The biggest social development I have seen is the compulsion of educating girl child in India. This is assisted with monetary funds from the government and this has brought in a new mindset among the deprived parents of girl child; now, I don’t think the parents will take them as a burden, rather enlighten them with public funds.
- Do you also think that different kind of religion it is also key social factor in India?
India is a country of many religions and hence, it is quite obvious to satisfy the needs of each one of them. This forms a concrete pillar in the society; however, it depends more on the sensationalizing groups if any conflict has to happen in the country.
- Can you explain what traditional belief (religion) of your family is and what is your ethnic status?
I am a Hindu by birth, however I am an atheist. The reason lies on the fact that I am not a hypocrite.
- What are the others in your city, other ethnics and religions? (Give examples of another important religions and ethnics who are in your city and describe them).
In my current city, there are many religions such as Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Sikh. The major ones are Sikh, Hindu and Islam.
- Do you think there is bigger cooperation between the ethnics and different believers or not?
See, if you ask about my opinion, I have seen sound cooperation among them. Therefore, the cooperation factor is quite positive.
- Is it still important before marriage from what kind of cast you are?
Yes, unfortunately! Now, if you are a Kayastha, the lovers’ family members will at least hesitate more than once if they are Brahmins. This will continue as a perennial source of narrow mindedness.
- What do you think about the caste system of India?
If I comment, I must say that the purpose of such segregation must have been done for the benefit of many, if conducted by the pundits. However, killings or prejudice in name of caste should be condemned.
- From filmmaking point of view, what do you think is it typical for Indian movie, what are the differences between West movie production and Indian movie production?
Movie can’t be categorized into being Indian or Pakistani, however the maturity of audiences is the major reason of such classifications. Indian people sort of hesitate liberal arts at public places, hence, movies are preferred that are direct. However, Bengal has already broken shackles with its recent style of filmmaking. There, viewers are more receptive to culture, liberalism, and alternative thinking. Comparing Indian films with Hollywood, this can be termed as the imposition of the global conglomerate when Bollywood films (Hindi language) are trying to attract Western producers and the major reason to produce would be to gain profits. Hence, commercialism is the common factor between Hollywood and Bollywood. But European Cinema is more comparable to experimental Cinema of Bengal and Maharasthra. They depend upon aesthetics, but lesser money spending.
- Can you describe some important persons who influenced Indian filmmaking sphere? (Give example of some important Indian artists and describe them.)
The first one who brought it out of the borders is Dadasaheb Phalke, followed by Satyajit Ray, Guru Dutt, Ritwik Ghatak etc. Each of them has been refined artists and influenced the path of filmmaking for the younger generations.
- What do you think about audience successful movie called ´Slumdog Millionare´? Do you like this story? Why, do you think, it was so successful?
I can’t be diplomatic this time and would say a straight ‘NO’ to this film. The only reason that made it famous could be equated to the blurred mindset the viewers have about India. One should watch the film, River by Jean Renoir to get a fair idea of my answer.
- What do you think about term/word ´Bollywood´? What do you imagine first if you listen the word Bollywood?
This is straight and simple, imitating the term ‘Hollywood’ and achieve a sense of parallel equation. The ones who are not familiar of India might easily think of it as a city’s name.
- Your film was screened at European film festivals, can you explain on what theme do you focus in your films? What is your message in your films? (What it is name of your award winner film?)
I mainly focus on saying the unsaid in a way that is visually appealing and need lesser words to complement it. My films, I, OR YOU? And EMBRACE were screened at European Film Festivals and Indian Film Festival held at Melbourne. Apart from this, I have received honorary professorship in India for my excellence toward filmmaking theories.
- My last question will be, what is your dream and what do you want to do more to create?
I have an aim to take Bengali Cinema to the global level that too through creation of films that would need lesser words to complement the scenes. This is actually an element of World Cinema, creating pieces without linguistic barriers. Apart from this, I am trying hard to absorb Color Theory in Indian films and Theatre.