Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 19 (May 1990) p. 21.


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The Case of Sergei Eisenstein

[3 Arun Khopkar

Arun Khopkir (born 1945) did his graduation with a mathematics major and then went on to specialize in film direction from the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. He started learning Russian in order to be able to read the writings of Sergei Eisenstein (many of which are untranslated in English) and continued during the 1980s to study German, French and Italian.

Khopkar has taught and lectured extensively on cinema, including lectures for the yearly Film Appreciation Course conducted by the National Film Archives, as also for the Film and Television Institute, Pune where he also served as a member of the Academic Council during 1979-83.

He has kctured at the School for Higher Studies in Film Direction and the Union ofFilmmakers, Moscow. Eisenstein remains his continued subject of research. In 1988 he read a paper in the conference 'Eisenstein at Ninety' co-sponsored &y the British Film Institute and Museum of Modem Art, Oxford.

In the area of Indian cinema, Khopkar's book Guru

Dutt—Teen Anki Shokantika (Granthali, Bombay, 1985), translated as Guru Dutt—Tragedy in Three Acts, won the Silver Lotus, national award for the Best Book on Indian Cinema in 1986.

Asfilmmaker Khopkar has specialized in documentary films. During 1974-76 he worked as aTV producer in Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad, where he produced science education programmes for primary school children in rural areas, telecast to 2400 villages during the SITE operation. Of the many short films on educational, technical, and social welfare themes he has made, 'Tobacco Habits and Oral Cancer' has been awarded in national and international film forums.

During 1985-87 he undertook research, as Homi Bhabha Fellow, on the related aesthetics of film and other art forms. A recently completed 30 min. film, Figures of Thought, attempts to explore the work of three artists, Bhupen Khakhar, Vivan Sundaram.Nalini Malini, through cinematic means that further the semantics of the plastic image.

This year is Sergei Eisenstein's ninetieth birth anniversary. He died in 1948. He made six major films and a number of unfinished films, some shot but never edited, like Que Viva Mexico, some shot and then destroyed, like Bezhin Meadow. His published writings are in six volumes in Russian of about 600 pages each, and a proposed 12-volume edition, which will be completed in about six years, will include about 800 pages per volume. So it's a massive quantity of work published. Unfortunately English is the only major European language in which the least translation has been done. We have the books Jay Leyda had translated—Film Form, The Film Sense, Notes of A Film Director—and there have been a series of publications by Seagull, Calcutta. The British Film Institute starts a series of three volume editions, of which the first has come out last month.

Yesterday Kumar brought up this question of internationalism, and I think this is one of the first points I would like to touch upon vis ^ vis Eisenstein. Quite early on in his career he was a student of Japanese (his basic background was engineering). The influence of Japanese


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