Daniel Radcliffe said something about films that will stay with me forever, ‘Movies can be anything. They can be escape or they can be confrontation.’
Cinema is essentially story-telling in the visual form and stories are essentially therapeutic. I am addicted to stories. As a child I made up stories, adorned mundane days with colourful additions to make them entertaining, so much so, that a favourite teacher gave me a nickname, ‘the long story teller of the class.’
Even now, when I am struggling to fall asleep, distracted by my chaotic adult mind, trying to cope with reality, I start a story in my head, transporting me far away from my world, and inevitably, half way through a chapter, I am snoring. (You can all try this. Really, it works.)
I am also a singer. When I sing a particular piece, I am constantly looking for a situation or a character that fits into the lyrics before I am presenting it (Thanks to Tagore’s genius, it’s never difficult).
So, I guess this tremendous medium of visual story telling is what essentially draws me to cinema. Its power to make me live someone else’s life, share a stranger’s grief, celebrate unknown festivals and yet at the end feel that there was no difference between me and a Mongolian mother or a shepherd musician from Timbuktu.
Cinema gives extraordinary power to words, like ‘metaphor’ in the Italian masterpiece ‘Il Postino’, or ‘Fight Koni, Fight’, the super hit Bengali film that transformed my adolescence or even ‘Chak de India’ that gives goose pimples as any National Anthem does when sung before a match.
Then again, cinema is not words or dialogue, it is visual story telling. It says so much without language. It uses visuals, music, and sound, make up, costumes, sets, and numerous other tools to convey what it wants to, more profoundly and powerfully than words. Can anyone forget what Spielberg did in the opening scene of ‘Jaws?’ Let alone rivers and seas, he created in me, a phobia for wells and even water stored in bathrooms of water deprived Kolkata.
Making films are missions, missions of stories to be told, characters to be uncovered, ideas to be spread, strangers to be brought together on set in order to play ‘family’ during exhausting and exciting days of shoot. The process is enriching, educating and addictive.
‘Bridge’ happened because of all these complex phenomenon coming together is an apparently simple canvas, it happened because contradictions such as ‘escape’ and ‘confrontation’ needed to be resolved, because we did not want to die without making it happen.
Saying that, we all have stories to tell and not all of us, (me included) always, have to tell them through the medium of cinema.
It is told by millions of parents and grandparents in thousands of languages coaxing their children to eat, it is told by farmers tilling the land and toddlers learning to paint. It is told by poets, writers, musicians, architects, carpenters, gardeners, chefs, photographers and hundreds of others all over the world from time immemorial. It is told in kitchens, office blocks, schools, on the roads, in boats, on spaceships, on paper, through marble, wood, plastic, rocks and with clay. It is told through fiction and reality. In fact, we are all story tellers and unknowingly go on telling and creating stories, everyday.
Telling stories is as therapeutic as being the recipient of one. So, may ‘The Force be With You,’ while you search mediums to create your stories and find recipients for your narratives.
Paramita Banerjee wears multiple hats: a financial analyst, a singer, a storyteller. Now she is the producer of Bridge. HBFF is proud to premier the film.