Cinema Between Video and Film by Lalitha Gopalan


One close-up shot follows another in Babu Easwar Prasad’s Kannada language film Gallibeeja/Windseed (2014): a cover of the DVD copy of Abbas Kiarostami’s Close-Up (1990). The homage to Kiarostami is obvious in this film, from the shuffle of DVDs that a hitchhiker initiates to additional mentions and quotations to this director’s oeuvre punctuating subsequently in the film. Kiarostami’s films, however, are not the only ones pointedly referenced in Windseed, rather the film’s cinephile familiarity with driving, hitchhiking, speeding, and crashing as signal tropes provokes its consideration as an archaeology of the road movie genre. As surefooted as the film is with world cinema — its circulation as a film festival film a further testimony to extant thematic preoccupations— its limited release in India and its small budget provokes a consideration of the fate of such independent productions within a national cinema culture, a framework pursued in this presentation. In this regard, Lalitha Gopalan offers a complementary archaeology by placing this work alongside Malay Bhattacharya’s Bengali language film Kahini ‘Fiction’ (1997), another road movie whose film festival recognition did little for its release in India. By mapping the trajectory from Kahini to Gallibeeja, the paper unpacks the relationship between art cinema and festival films that shape these nearly lost, independent films, and argues for an alternative genealogy of Indian narrative cinemas.

Lalitha Gopalan is an associate professor in the Department of Radio-Television-Film at University of Texas at Austin. Her research and teaching interests include Feminist Film Theory, Contemporary World Cinemas, Genre Films, and Experimental Film and Video. She has authored Cinema of Interruptions: Action Genres in Contemporary Indian Cinema (BFI, 2002), Bombay (BFI, 2005), and Cinemas Dark and Slow in Digital India (Palgrave, 2021), and edited Cinema of India (Wallflower, 2010).

Location: College of Art & Design, Punjab University

Date: February 27, 2020

To view the complete talk, please visit: Lalitha Gopalan on Cinema between Video & Film.