Ketan Mehta on Bhavni Bhavai
Ketan Mehta\ Not being very comfortable with the verbal form of communication, I do not like to lecture ... I would like, however, to mention some of the things that went into the making of Bhavni Bhavai, certain directions that culminated in that film.
Looking back now at the entire experience of that film, which is already two years old, I think of its beginning in the time when I was doing theatre in Delhi. The initial contact with Brecht's theatre and his critical writing, along with examining Stanislavsky and the Aristotelian position—all this formed the background. We got disillusioned soon enough with the proscenium form that was catering primarily to the urban upper classes, and somewhere along the same time the search for a significant epic form started. At that time, and even later, the thing that really carried me along was the idea that the dominant class, the dominant tradition, not only appropriates the means of production and property relations but also somewhere controls the ideas being communicated, the myths that pre-date its takeover, the forms by which these ideas are communicated.
What I was clear about, therefore, was what I had to overcome— the kind of impact that was regressive in not leading either to thought or to action: This identification with, in the Aristotelian sense with the destiny of the hero-protagonist, the purging of emotions to create a moment satisfying by itself, and thus the neutralising of social processes of change. I was searching for a kind of form, which was not completely geared towards providing catharisis, one that left scope for putting forth ideas and triggering off more ideas, and placing questions before the spectators, instead of satisfying them with a given 'destiny5 that
Journal of Arts and Ideas 53