Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 5 (Oct-Dec 1983) p. 27.


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COLOUR, SOUND, MOVEMENT:

Introduction

Arun Khopkar

he papers in the following secton are crucial to this issue. We may add, with them, Neela Khopkar's paper on the khayal form (already published, JAI 4) and Dr Ayappa Paniker's Kathakali: Narrative As Performance which we shall publish in a subsequent issue.

Barring one, by Kumar Shahani, these papers are not written by film people and. do not, apparently, even deal with the cinema. But, as the first two essays emphasise, they are essential contributions to the positions being sought to be taken within certain streams of the Indian cinema.

The search for new forms has led further to the other problem of apparent culture-specificity and universality. It would seem, superficially, that colour, sound and movement are aspects of the human senses that possess a genuine universality. But, to take only one example to the contrary—Kenji Mizoguchi's—his remarkable dissolves in editing seems to come from a very specific source, the Japanese scroll, and may make sense perhaps to only those acquainted with the traditions drawn upon.

As a matter of fact, the following papers demonstrate that neither position can be autonomously maintained. And if one has to make sense of certain juxtapositions in their cinematic use, we would have to also recognise the nature of their use in larger contexts of which cinema is for us simply the defining one.

OfJ. P. S Uberoi's remarkable paper on Goethe, one can recall Louis Althusser's comment on Freud and his scientific antecedents:

"... Freud had to think his discovery and his practice in imported concepts . . . with no legal inheritance behind him—except for a parcel of philosophical concepts (conscionsness, pre-consciousness, unconsciousness etc.) which were probably more than a hindrance than a help as they were marked by a problematic of consciousness present even in its reservations—his only forerunners were writers, Sophocles, Shakespeare, Moliere, Goethe, or proverbs."

Apart from demonstrating the ideological attitudes embedded within certain defined conventions of responding to nature, Uberoi also opens out new and vital fields for the 'art-critic by demonstrating their utmost relevance to his own work, something that our conventional critical circles have been loth to admit.

This paper converges remarkably with that of Kumar Shahani on sound. Demonstrating the scientific specificity of the allophone, the most minute element of speech, as of the note, the single element that in configuration with others becomes musical, Shahani shows how even so specific a system suddenly yields, becomes flexibile. Once again the mechanics of a significant universal system open out.

The other paper, by Gulam mohammed Sheikh, deals with a specific art-form and its narrative structure. Here the dialectic emerges from different concerns—the attempts of the individual artist to reconcile his contemporary, modern concerns with those of ancient art-forms. Significantly Sheikh, as well as Neela Khopkar and Dr Ayappa Paniker in the seminar, focussed on narrative patterns. Narrative then seems to provide a key solution to cross generic, and even formal, distinctions, and certain extemely significant material structures.

We would like to develop these ideas. There are likely to be some disagreements as well, perhaps even between the writers of the above-mentioned papers for this is an almost completely undeveloped aspect of art in our context today.

Journal of Arts and Ideas 27


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