neutral perspective in cinema
best perspective is the neutral perspective. Only
an outsider can have a clear and impartial view
of things. Cricket for a long time had umpires
from the home countries. Having neutral umpires
for all international matches was made mandatory
after it was observed that home umpires kept getting
the feeling that whichever ball hit the pad of
a batsman of the visiting team, it was definitely
going on to hit the stumps. Now, what has neutral
umpiring in cricket got to do with movies? Nothing
really, the connection is only tangential at best.
There are movies that are made on great historic
events, personalities or movies based on the culture
and heritage of a place or people. Tamil Nadu
has a long and eventful history full of great
warriors, poets and saints. The early years of
Tamil cinema fed greatly off this rich and varied
heritage of Tamil. Indian history too has been
extensively documented and portrayed in cinema.
The observation made here is that the best and
and perhaps the most
representations of a history has always been made by
someone who is not an inheritor of the legacy. To make
things simpler, it can be said that it is an outsider
who can best portray the history of a place.
The best view of Mount Everest is not got from its apex.
The one at the top of a mountain cannot describe it,
that can be done only by a man atop a neighboring mountain.
We can never describe our facial features to anyone
else; it takes a third person to do the job. The point
is that one can never get a complete view of anything
while remaining within it. That is why, the most beautiful
view of earth is from the moon and vice versa.
Cinema based on history or culture is something similar.
It takes someone who does not belong to that culture
to be able to understand it fully, to highlight the
positives and analyze the negatives. Anyone who has
grown up with the culture or is an inheritor of the
history will either end up making a glorified version
or a satire; the balanced view will go missing. This
is not a rule, there are lots of creations that have
defied this observation. But, there is definitely some
element of substance in what has been said above.
Mahatma Gandhi has always been a huge favorite of film
makers. Tracing his life on celluloid can amount to
documenting a major portion of the Indian freedom struggle.
Many film makers over the decades have made accounts
of the Mahatma’s life. But, the best is undisputedly
the one made by Richard Attenborough- Gandhi. It was
one of the first and it is definitely the most complete
and engaging account of the Mahatma’s life. This
is not to say that the films made by Indian film makers
are not up to the mark, in fact, The Making of the Mahatma
by Shyam Benegal also ranks as one quality product.
But, Gandhi was the perfect depiction of the stature
that Mahatma Gandhi had in the minds of all those who
were influenced by him. While Rajat Kapoor’s performance
as Gandhi cannot be faulted in any way, it is also true
that Ben Kingsley’s portrayal is the enduring
image of ‘The Father of the nation’.
Even in Tamil. Some of the earliest films borrowing
generously from Tamil culture and history have been
made by film makers from other parts of the country.
Veerapandiya Kattabomman, an account of one of Tamil
history’s greatest heroes was made by a film maker
originally from the Kannada industry, B. Ramakrishnaiah
Panthulu. Haridass was directed by a man from the north
of India, Sundarrao Nadkarni.
The Patriot, an account of the American war for independence
was made by Roland Emmerich, a German. Lawrence of Arabia
was made by David Lean. The story of Queen Elizabeth
was brought alive on celluloid by the Indian director
As said earlier, this is no rule. There are instances
to prove that the neutral perspective is the best. But,
there can be other opinions too.
Behindwoods is not responsible for the views of columnists.