In search of creative genius in Indian Cinema
(an essay by alok nandan)
'Will is the centre around which all the functions of life moves.'
The secret of genius lies in the clear and impartial perception of the object, the essential and the universal. On national theatre or better to say on the international theatre –Indian Film Industry is a place where different minds play with the different tools to produce most famous and popular arts, the film; the moving film; the motion picture. Here all the segments of art - photography, music, acting, dialogue, costume, lyric etc- are complied with the help of scientific discoveries, in field of science everyday new technology is being invented and implemented in order to make the film making process easy and effective. A film is the production of conjugation of science and art. So naturally this field-film making world- demands more and more genius.
A natural question arises here, who is genius or what is the criteria of genius? It is universal question and related with many fields, better to say with every walk of life. But with question we move only under the circle of Indian cinema as it is the laboratory where we will investigate the universal question-what is the definition of genius?
The basic line of this investigation will be the words of Schopenhauer, the German philosophers who have worked hard to find out the definition of a genius. This is the reason the opening sentence of the article starts with the word of Schopenhauer. Let us go with them in search of genius in Indian cinema.
Genius is simply the completest objectivity, -i.e. the objective tendency of mind. Is Amitabh Bachchan a genius? Does he has the objective tendency of mind to his different characters? To him what is the criteria of selecting a character and how he co-relate himself with the character?
Do the audience ever forget Amitabh Bachchan and co-relate themselves to the particular character played by him? Or his own personality stands between audience and the character? He has played and still playing different types of characters, and some of them are still fresh in the public memory while others have been vanished with the course of time. Why?
The answer is very simple. The roles that are still fresh in the public mind have been played by a genius mind, with the objective tendency of mind. The minds of characters have been penetrated by the objective tendency of a genius mind who is not influenced by his own popular personality. Having demolished himself completely he has entered and occupied the other brain objectively and then automatically his body language and behavior have changed and completely a new and different person emerged from him. And people are still fascinated with those characters like Vijay in Deewar and Trishul, Jay in Sholey, and Anthony in Amar Akabar Anthony.When he lacked the tendency of objectivity his own has personality reflected in the characters, that have not stimulated the public mind and all of them have been forgotten. The long journey of Amitabh Bachchan as an actor must be seen in this perspective. It means genius is not a permanent phenomena, it is a state of mind. When a person has an objective tendency of mind he is genius, when he sees the world subjectively his state of mind represents his personality.All actors or their works must be judged according to this way, from V.Shanta Ram to Ajay Devgan.
Again we continue with Schopenhauer, 'Genius is mostly knowledge and little will while the man in general is mostly will and little knowledge.' Is Ram Gopal Verma a genius? Is he a man of mostly knowledge and little will? He has given a new test in Indian Cinema and is considered as a genius by critic and masses. He has touched the zenith in his field, direction. In some extents whatever he has done, he has done with clear sight so why he can be said the man of knowledge. He has gone ahead, leaving his will aside, and understood all the functions of human mind, without involving himself in the affairs. To him, love, anger, satisfaction and dissatisfaction and all the human psychology are just matters of brain. He can be better understood by more and more knowledge. To him, human's reactions are related with will but can be understood only through knowledge, through mind. And only through knowledge they can be perceived and demonstrated on the silver screen.
Schopenhauer says, ''Read the creator rather than the expositors and the critics.'' In the same way Anurag
kashyap says,''Better to discuss the film maker than the films.' It can be changed little as 'Better to discuss the mind of a film maker than his films.'' The work produced by a genius mind has value for the masses, but a genius, a man of knowledge, is always ready to jump into the mind of a creator; not its creation; because his hunger for more and more knowledge is infinite.
Without knowledge or objectivity was Raj kapoor able to make films like Awara, Jis Desh mein Ganga Hahati Hai,Prem Rog, Mera Nam Joker, Ram Teri Ganga Maili, etc.? He was a man of wide knowledge. He observed and perceived everything related human being very keenly and represented them on the silver screen, using the latest film technology of his time. Knowledge makes a man more objective. In other words the degree of knowledge increase the spectrum of brain and it is a special phenomena of a genius. Guru Dutt, Dev Anand, Rishikesh Mukharji, Gulzar can be interpreted as men of knowledge. Impartial perception of the object comes through knowledge.
Is genius has characteristics of abnormality? According to Schopenhauer, ''the fundamental condition of genius is an abnormal predominance of sensibility and irritability over reproductive power.'' What does mean by abnormal predominance of sensibility? What is sensibility? By nature all men are sensible, but the degree of sensibility plays greater role in genius, as Schopenhauer believes, and it leads to genius to abnormality. The best example of this statement is Nana Patekar, a man full of sensibility. By the masses he is considered as a fanatic man. On the silver screen he has acted many fanatic characters and all the characters of this nature have been admired because whatever he has in side or in his conscious, he has acted on the screen. On the silver screen he seems like a real fanatic character.The wall between acting and real life disappeared and audience automatically enjoy the work of an abnormal pre-dominance of sensibility. We must not forget that extreme anger is also a part of abnormality. Nana Patekar, in his acting, creates his real anger and touches the hearts of audience-from ankush to apaharan.
In ankush he is a loud violent character but in apaharan he is a cold violent character. But the degree of the violent nature is same in both the characters. No any other actor has touched this abnormal predominance of sensibility as Nana Patekar has touched. The reason is very simple. What he is in his personal life he reflects before the camera and creates wonder on the screen. And he knows his strength. At the same times he is found of rifle shooting. He has won many meddles in shooting. His shooting tendency also indicates his innermost anger and concentration. Anger is a negative force or passion if it has no objective. Or it can be said any abnormal pre-dominance of sensibility leads a man to disaster if it is without objective and insight. Nana patekar is very clear to his objective so he plays with his anger in a very systematic way, through concentration. Dramatically he changes his negative energy to positive one. He is not a multi-dimensional actor but with only one dominating passion, anger.
His irritability over reproductive or enmity with woman can also be seen in his personal life.
Is Amol Palekar a genius? He has an abnormal predominance of sensibility and irritability over reproductive power? He has tender and delicate approach to society; specially the middle class. He is very simple and lucid in his acting and all the characters played by him on the silver screen were admired specially by the middle class. Why? Again the answer is very simple. By nature he has all the qualities-passion and temperament-of a middle class youth who had his own specific pain and pleasure in day-today life affairs. So here, without temperament of abnormality he has established himself as a natural actor and it is his great achievement. He touches the heart of the middle class family in a very lucid manner. And he is a very perfect performer. Through more and more observation and practice a man can be perfect like any computer operator or a cricket player. His acting is simple as a flow of sleeping river in which anyone can enter without a fear of danger. But Nana Patekar is like a live volcano, full of anger. In the theatre he kidnaps your mind. Even after existing from the theatre many more think and behave like him unconsciously. With Amol Palekar one shares with his won life but Nana Patekar does not give this opportunity. He breaks the threads of the audience's mind through his genius work that has an abnormal predominance of sensibility. Both Nana Patekar and Amol Palekar are performers but with different and opposite temperaments.
Now what about woman, from Madubala to Madhuri Dixit and so many other female beauties who are playing different roles on silver screen ? Feminist thinkers have their right to react against Schopenhauer's words about woman , '' Women may have many great talent, but no genius for them everything is personal and is viewed as means to end.''
The unsociability of a genius is emphasized loudly by Schopenhauer. He says, ''A genius is thinking of the fundamental, the universal, the eternal, others are thinking of the temporary, the specific, the immediate; his mind and there ones' have no common ground and never meets. Amir khan is up to mark of this statement of Schopenhauer. He thinks of fundamental, the universal and the eternal and, of course, he is a kind of unsocial animal. Sharukh Khan may be a brilliant performer but not genius.
In conclusion, it can be said that Schopenhauer is not ultimate truth. It just provides a base to think about something deeply. Here an honest attempt has been taken to find out genius from Indian cinema according to the given formula of Schopenhauer. one is free to think according to his own way.