Friday, October 31, 2003

tehzeeb update {previous post in thread}

The official site of the film is Flash-y. "Love. Affection. Murder. The Perfect Family". The words/phrases drop down one by one in the opening animation. Murder??? Other taglines in the pathetically low-res video clips include "a daughter breaks the rules". And yes, aapako mujhase is a Shabana Azmi song.

And now, the interesting part. Hidden in that predictable Flash show is a note from Khalid Mohamed (for those interested in the navigation, follow this link, click on 'filmmakers' in the bottom bar of the Flash pane, and then get the mouse pointer to hover over 'Director') about the story of the film (titled "Director's Note"). Reproduced here (verbatim with unfortunate typos and grammatical slips, with occasional corrective hints for readability):

The story of Tehzeeb has emerged as much from conversations and interviews with friends and psycho analysts, as from a continuing self probe about one's imagined relationship with a mother whom I cannot remember. She passed away in an air crash when I was two.

Said to be beautiful and larger than life, the absence of a mother's memory, caused me to wonder how I would have reacted to her persona. What is [if] she had become a successful public personality? Would I have been overawed by her? Or would I have challenged her about her responsibilities to the home and the hearth?

Towards the aim, initially I believed an acknowledged remake of Ingmar Bergman's Autumn Sonata would be in order. But as I wrote the screenplay, it became apparent that the story had to arise from me and from the Indian condition. In this task, the inputs of my friend Dr Udayan Patel were invaluable. While working in the idiom of popular cinema, I had to reach my reality of what-could or what-would have been vis-à-vis a son's relationship with his mother.

I have fed also on the lives of several close friends and their relationships, placid or turbulent, with their parents. The result is Tehzeeb.

Dr Udayan Patel is a Bombay psychotherapist, who is also quoted in Nasreen Munni Kabir's Bollywood: The Indian Cinema Story, for example, explaining the wet-sari dance: "The gyrations are repeated and the use of the eyes and lips are suggest overt sexuality. In family entertainment there is no kiss, there is no sex. So sexuality is expressed through dance and the movement of the body drenched by water. The dance movements remind you of sexual intercourse without touching or kissing, The more vulgar movements create erotic fantasies. All heroines have a way of arousing in the audience active sexual fantasises and the more the fantasies, the greater the heroine's success". Swapan Dasgupta's article on "the ugly and dirty Indian" also quotes Dr Patel: Under foreign rule we learnt inhibition, now we "have failed to create a framework for managing desires".

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