From PhalkeFactory

Phase 1 – Finding the text: phalke narratives


PHALKE STORIES--by Kamal Swaroop --- ( Hindi / English)

Each work shop begins with an audio-visual presentation of the brief history of Indian cinema which also includes films about pre-cinema industrial arts and crafts related to the later development in motion-picture industry.

After acquainting writer participants from the work shop with printing, photography and early cinema they will be introduced to some philosophical historical texts relevant to our subject matter.

Suggested reading would be text like, Arts and nationalism in colonial India, Words of light, Technology of seeing, Illumination, Camera Indica, Photos of gods and few biographies of few characters relevant to Phalke stories

Then we start tracing the life and times of Phalke based on my scrap book on the same subject. This will identify all the characters, location, technologies themes related to our subject. After having an over all view we will start focusing on the individual cities. For example, in Baroda, we will only deal with Phalke in Baroda and that particular period in his growing up and related developments. Also for example ,at Trymbakeshwar\Nasik we will be working on Phalke’s childhood, his father and family, mythological stories that shaped his mind, early toys dealing with persistence of vision or say beginning of Nationalism. Since this period belongs to childhood, it would naturally expect different texture shading from the stories and writings.

Moving ahead to Baroda, he is a young man lost in learning photography, printing, music, theatre, intrigues in princely state, meeting his mentor Raja Ravi Verma. The story text would be inspired and sourced and drawn from local memories, legends, languages, paintings and unearthed unconscious of the city itself.

This exercise will be recorded on D.V camera as a visual reference in future for drawing of the story board.

The participants are ready to write a Phalke story. They come with an idea, conceptualise, plot, add characters and write a story using Phalke as the protagonist. Stories could be about a toy, a box camera, lithography, his relationship with Ravi Varma, phonograph, arrival of sound, blindness, loss of memory, a theatrical performance-depending on the city and the specific period in his biographic.

This is the time when we enter into the phenomenology of typewriters, phones, electric bulbs, relics of early technology. And writers are free to choose its genre, style but trying to invoke the times through shades and color of their text. Since no word and image remains unaffected by history

This exorcize emphasizes on historicity of the words themselves , inventing a new text for the nineteenth and twentieth century…since we don’t have much literature about how we were being shaped by arrival of new technologies I hope most of the stories will be written in vernacular and later translated for the screen play workshops.

Phase 2 – Writing the screenplay: film school: time image

After translating the Phalke stories to English, conceived in vernacular and arranged in a chronological order, we approach a film school.

We presume that most of the direction and screenplay students are familiar with the archeology and history of cinema, they are also aware of printed image and political struggle in India.

We start with acquainting the students to our journey through Phalke cities recorded on D V tapes. It also contains our discussions during writing of the stories. Students get a feel of the cities and characters who populate them.

They start going through the each story and start plotting for the big screen play. At this point of time we introduce Voglers text book on screenplay writing, Hero’s Journey, based on the writings of Joseph Campbell, but keeping in mind that an object can play a characters part or represent an archetype.

Based on patterns suggested by Vogler we arrive at a rough five act structure collectively, still keeping the linearity of the story intact

Next step includes a break down into sequences, scenes, bits and bytes. Now, each student takes different sequences and works individually, keeping others informed of his thoughts. All of them have to maintain a unbroken emotional graph.

After arriving at a linear structure we would be introducing the screen play on Proust by Harold Pinter to give an idea to the students about free association and a different way of looking at history and memory

Freeing linear structure to a new meaning, we will try and build the screen play into a multiplayer construction densely coded and representing a more contemporary notion of time and space, written in a language giving exact clues to the multi layered story board.

Phase 3 – Story Board

When we reach a design institute or an art school we have with us a detailed shot break down text, a massive d. v recording earlier two stages containing ideas and all the visual references collected during our pilgrimages to Phalke cities necessary for the final multi layered story board. By multi layered I mean that they are not only photographic representation but Tran formative imagination forcing a densely coded pictorial constructions. Before beginning to draw and paint first and the last frame for each shot we will be introducing a brief history of visual arts…from folk to the contemporary narrative paintings. Today it is not impossible to make cinema that is relative of say Chagal or say Gulam sheikh.

As you can see a d. v camera is playing an important role in terms of exchanging the information between different groups, and in collecting various visual references. It would be interesting to see how a written text gives way to a visual representation when two activities are brought together in an editing process.

The workshop locations are as follows—

1. Trymbakeshwar – 1870 – 80

ChildhoodThe fifth head of Brahma - Temple - Scriptures - Shadow puppetsMagic Lantern - Kath dacha - Early mechanical toys -CavesMythDescent of Ganga

2. Bombay – 1881 - 86

Sir JJ School of Arts - Tracing, Drawing & MouldingIntroduction to Raja Ravi VermaGalaxy of musiciansMarathi stage musicals – Myth & Play ‘Shakuntala’

3. Baroda1887 - 95

Kala Bhavan - Photography - PrintingLithigraphy-MusicMagic - First marriage – Myth & Play ‘Urvashi Purva’

4. Godhra – 1896 - 98

Professional photographer – Backdrop paintings for stage – Introduction to Raja Deen DayalPlague – Death of first wife – Madness & Magic – Myth & Play ‘Nala Damayanti’

5. Pune & other cities – 1899 - 1902

Second marriage – Draftsman in Dept. of Archeology – Myth of Sati

6. Lonavala – 1903 - 08

LithographyCalendar art – Advertising – Obscenity case against Ravi Verma - Death of Ravi Verma

7. Bombay – 1908 - 13

Returns from Germany after studying tri-color printing processes – Illustrated magazines – Press Act – Swaraj & SwadeshiBlindnessLife of ChristMaking of ‘Raja Harischandra’

8. Nasik1913 - 20

History of Nasik, Phalke’s studio‘Mohini Bhasmasur’, ‘Sati Savitri’, ‘Lanka Dahan’, - Paisa Fund - Hindustan Film Company - ‘Shri Krishna Janam’, ‘Kalia Mardan’Birth of Indian film industryfilm in indiaResigns from Hindustan Film Company

9. Varanasi – 1920 - 22

Exile - Writes ‘Rangabhoomi’, a play about the world of theatre – Declared dead – The Harischandra myth backfires in life

10. Nasik – 1923 - 36

Returns to Hindustan Film Company as production overseer – Cinematography Act – Arrival of Sound Cinema – Tries to add sound to his silent film ‘Setu Bandhan’ – after failure in talkies, sets up small business in making enamel boards

11. Kolhapur – 1936 - 38

Making of ‘Gangavataran’ – Transporting the Himalayas to Kolhapur by whitewashing the Sahyadri mountain range

12. Pune - 1938

Poverty – Failure – Rise of Prabhat Studios

13. Bombay - 1938

Felicitated at the Silver Jubilee celebration of the Indian film industry – Given grant to build house in Nasik

14. Nasik - 1938 - 44

World War 2Film musicalsChildrenAmnesia – Retreat into childhood – Death