Jan 4, 2007

Cinema— from a different angle

THE FILM BUFFS (From left to right) Dhanalakshmi, Chandran, Thirunavukkarasu, Gopi, Mugil and M.Mohamed Abubacker.

It is no multiplex and it is certainly not the Kodak theatre. A board outside says: Ramu Swadeshi Angadi. It is a small home-outlet selling dairy products. Througthe open door you glimpse an elderly gentleman reading. From his pristine white cap and outfit, he appears a Gandhian. (You are right, he is one). His home is the unlikely venue for a screening of a Bosnian film, No man's land.

But you soon discover that Konangal is pretty unorthodox. It is made up of an advocate, a visual communications student, a human rights activist, a research scholar, a theatre personality and so on. What bonds them is a love for cinema and a commitment to human rights. And all they want to do is enjoy films and enable everyone in Coimbatore to do the same. And with this in mind they have started their film club that they call Konangal, meaning angles. The president of Konangal, Pon Chandran, says it is an effort, "To get people united in one forum to view the diversity of the world."

Polanski, Kurosawa, Fassbinder, Bergman... the names roll effortlessly off the tongues of these film enthusiasts. But they are quick to point out that the idea is not to alienate people by showing alternative cinema, but to give them an opportunity to view some works of art. So Modern Times and Bicycle Thieves and the films of Ritwik Ghatak and Satyajit Ray have been taken to the people.

In 2003 Konangal organised a film festival of short films and documentaries at the Coimbatore Malayali Samajam. These films were screened in ten other places across Tamil Nadu in small towns and villages and it led to the formation of many small groups of film enthusiasts.

Konangal wants to take good films to schools and colleges and any other institutions that will let it screen movies on their premises. Recently, the students of Sri Dharmashastha watched the internationally acclaimed children's film, Children of Heaven. And on the occasion of Dr Ambedkar's birthday, a short film was screened for a group of sanitary workers.

The film society is working on making the film movement more active in Coimbatore. It is however constrained by the fact that it does not have the required infrastructure to do it in a sustainable way. Even now the projector and other equipment is on loan from a well-wisher and fellow film enthusiast and the members have financed all the screenings. The films are sourced from individuals and groups that have a collection of alternative cinema.

Still the society screens at least one film a month and is planning to turn that into twice a month with one contemporary film, and the other a classic. And every two months or so, it wants to hold a retrospective of some of the great masters. Film appreciation workshops are also in the pipeline.

Konangal is hoping corporates, educational institutions and cultural organisations come forward to help its cause. All it needs is a venue where films can be screened and film festivals held. Some tentative efforts to enlist the help of cinema halls in the city have drawn a blank. But the members hope the tide will turn in their favour and their movement will gather momentum. They say they owe a great deal to their precursor, the Coimbatore Film Society and look forward to working alongside other film buffs and film appreciation movements like Nai Vaal to make Coimbatoreans a party to their endeavour. If you are interested to know more about Konangal, call, 9443039630/9443523715/ 9443913805

Art imitates life

No Man's Land. The film is about two soldiers — one a Bosnian and the other a Serbian. They are stranded in no man's land. There is a third injured soldier who is lying on a landmine that will blow up if he moves. They await help from the neutral United Nations' forces and the whole drama is being watched with great interest by the media. The movie deals with the interaction between the soldiers and their notion of the war they are fighting.

About 30 people in an asbestos-roofed barsaati in 7th street Tatabad watched the film. A short introduction was given about Konangal. There was deliberately no introduction to the film, except that it was an Oscar nominated one and made by a Bosnian. A post-film discussion was initiated by the members. They urged the viewers to come forward with their views and opinions and interpretation of the film. Once they broke the ice, the audience warmed up to the discussion of the film, its visuals, the ideas it projected, the rights and wrongs of the situation, etc. From the film, the discussion veered to how the Serbian-Bosnian conflict was but a reflection of the world, society and individual lives. Enthusiastic participation from the viewers concluded the evening.

Courtesy : The Hindu



Konangal - Phone: 9443039630 said...


We are pleased to announce the launching of Konangal's Blog as a New Year memento to all our members.

We would like to place on record the wonderful work done by Mr. Anand, one of our committed and active members, in getting this done.

We request all the film enthusiasts to make good use of the site in dissiminating the vision and mission of Konangal.

We also look forward to your comments and suggestions which will enrich the site further.

Best Regards to all

peabrane said...

This work is laudable. At a time when India is passing through a cultural asphyxiation of sorts, this effort comes in like a breath of fresh air. Catching them young is perhaps the best way of ensuring a discerning audience in the years to come. This would provide a good market for quality cinema and hence the patronage of the industry in future. I do not know how big a cultural or social revolution this is going to cause, but every step counts. As some wise man said, “The biggest journey begins with the first (little) step.” This is a Giant Leap for the people of Kovai.

Konangal - Phone: 9443039630 said...

This comment/appreciation of peabrane is indeed very much encouraging.

Tamil subtitling has indeed attracted many new viewers who had earlier hesitated to peep into our shows. Consequently, the quality of our post screening discussions is also enhanced considerably.

We shall certainly take these Tamil subtitled films widely through our outreach programmes.

This, we hope, would further facilitate formation of small groups of film enthusiasts in smaller towns and even in villages to view world class cinema in Tamil!

We invite active participation of all concerned in this endeavour.

Let us see how it unfolds.