The Epic Cinema of Kumar Shahani

The Epic Cinema of Kumar Shahani

Laleen Jayamanne
Distribution: World
Publication date: 10/15/2014
ISBN: 978-0-253-01414-6
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Description

Laleen Jayamanne examines the major works of leading Indian film director, Kumar Shahani, and explores the reaches of modernist film aesthetics in its international form. More than an auteur study, Jayamanne approaches Shahani's films conceptually, as those that reveal cinema's synaesthetic capabilities, or "cinaesthesia." As the author shows, Shahani's cinematic project entails a modern reformulation of the ancient oral tradition of epic narration and performance in order to address the contemporary world, establishing a new cinematic expression, "an epic idiom." As evidenced by his films, constructing cinematic history becomes more than an archival project of retrieval, and is instead a living history of the present which can intervene in the current moment through sensory experiences, propelling thought.

Author Bio

Laleen Jayamanne teaches Cinema Studies in the Department of Art History and Film Studies at the University of Sydney. She is the author of Toward Cinema and Its Double: Cross-Cultural Mimesis (IUP, 2001).

Reviews

"It is a rare gift of intuition and understanding for a scholar to bestow on the artist who is her object of study the same beauty and elegance of expression that attracted her to the artist’s work in the first place. Such is the gift that Laleen Jayamanne has bestowed on the oeuvre of Indian filmmaker, Kumar Shahani." —Sumita Chakravarty, author of National Identity in Indian Popular Cinema, 1947-1987

"What would cinematic thought be like refracted through the master filmmakers of Asia? As dazzling in performance as it is daring in conception, this breathtaking book weaves a response by working through the very fabric of Shahani’s cinema and his affinities with other visionaries such as Baz Luhrmann. Giving us epic as living tradition and cinema as heritage for the future, Jayamanne is a rare, primary critic at the top of her creative powers. A landmark work for 21st century cinema studies." —Meaghan Morris, University of Sydney

"Laleen Jayamanne allows herself to be (as she says) ‘led astray’ by one of cinema’s most challenging contemporary practitioners to produce an entirely original interpretative frame for Kumar Shahani. She sees Shahani’s work through material practices drawn from the South Asian subcontinent, even as she places him in a cinema peopled by such unlikely compatriots as Rocha and Pasolini, Kubrick and Paradyanov, and even Baz Luhrmann. Throwing light on this practice are concepts drawn as much from Eugenio Barba and Suely Rolnik as from D.D. Kosambi. Jayamanne’s ‘epic cinema’ is revealed as deeply paradoxical, but capable of astonishing connections, relays of meaning and associations of ideas." —Ashish Rajadhyaksha, Senior Fellow, Centre for the Study of Culture and Society

"This very personal book, rich in cinematographic crossreferences, will hopefully awaken the American film public to the unique experimental work of Kumar Shahani, scarcely known here, which opens film to some of its unexplored possibilities." —Fredric R. Jameson, Duke University

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Table of Contents

Preface
1. To Arrive at the Station: trains of thought
2. To Leave the Factory: with cloth & film
3. To Derail Thought: of infinity as motif or walking
4. In the Beginning was Sound
Nad: Tarang (Wave)
5. Lapidary Dynamisms: river, stone, icon
6. A Second Nervous system: Acting and Thinking
7. Shahani and others
8. Modulating Avatars: Shahani’s Unit
9. Memory of the World: Archive Fever
Notes
Filmography
Bibliography
Index