The Black Book
A man is born and dies.
He lives 70 years. Grows, in the womb and out of it, changes, responds to the world around him.
Unusually, this particular man, a colonial subject, lays the foundations for a cinema that gazes out of the screen with the straightforward gaze of the Indian gods. His own eye, grown from a particular culture, informs the way he wields the camera. He does it in a spirit of nationalistic pride.
His characters, often gods, often played by his family members, are shaped by the cultural and aesthetic influences of his early youth.
How does a book approach this subject?
Maps of time are drawn.
One map is of the biography of the man: a charting of the time of the growing child, of the young man, of the old man regressing to the silence of the womb.
The charting of a nationalistic time.. its leaders, its figures, its moments
The charting of the history of technology, of contemporary astronomy, of Indian art under colonialism, of the history of proscenium theatre in India, the history of modern business in India.
Hearing other echoes- of puppetry, of ventroloquism, magic, circus, the dalliances of the gods with the everyday, the circus of the princely states, the puppetry of the Raj.
The book lays out multiple grids.
Words are not just ciphers for meanings. Words are also marks on white from which must grow new life. The book lets chrysales moult in the cocoons of these words and slowly become images.
Images have their own life, they must breed and grow and like butterflies, pull life for themselves out of dead flesh.
Like its subject, which is the movement of life, the book must keep growing and changing.
The images return to language again, and learn to compress those reams of words, those diverse drawings, into the compressed language of screenplay that in its turn, prepares to open up in the presence of actors and technology: to become flickering shadows on a white screen.
notes- advertisement for the black book
there is a book that could give you back your imagination
an imagination that is also yours, that can make you comfortable with a head on whose ledges troves of people sit, talking all at once, like flocks of birds on a swinging wire.
Trishanku's shadow on the sun dial in your garden