Showing posts with label movie screening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label movie screening. Show all posts

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Postcolonial Studies: Film Screening: Midnight's Children and The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Screening films related to the themes of Postcolonial studies with a task to review these films

1) Midnight's Children: 

From one of the most acclaimed novel Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie, emerges this drama Midnight's Children 2013 film highlighting the lives of two individuals born at the stroke of midnight when India achieved its independence from the British. The legendary yet dramatic Midnight's Children movie features a great story that marks it as an epic saga of the decade. This movie takes us through all the ages beginning from the grandparents to the grandchildren. Switched at the time of birth by a nurse at a Bombay hospital, the lives of the two individuals are mysteriously intertwined. As fate would have it, one (Saleem) is a son of a beggar woman whereas the other child (Shiva) becomes the destined son of a wealthy couple. Over a period of time, their fate makes them face each other on the field of rivalry, politics, romance and class.
The Midnight Children film is a controversial potboiler that has tragedy, romance and comedy. A journey of two individuals through the tragic disasters, trials and triumphs gives you an incomparable experience of watching India in the early years of Independence. It offers an astute view of the divide when the rich become poor and poor rise to power. Brilliantly directed and compiled by Oscar nominated director Deepa Mehta, the movie features some unforgettable moments that make your heart bleed and then there are those that bring a smile to your face. Midnight's Children English movie has a dramatic and mysterious touch that gets you an entire picture of India's journey through all its trials. Offering some fodder for thought and complete visual delight, this Midnight's Children DVD is a story that touches your soul. (This blurb is taken from Amazon product details)

The problem is that some - in fact a good many - of the events of Midnight's Children actually happened. it is not a historical novel in the conventional sense, but what Timothy Brennan has called "patches of straight history" are woven into the extravagant, nonlinear, fictional narrative of the novel's hero, Saleem Sinai. This "baggy monster of a book", as Rushdie has described it using Henry James's phrase, contains a detailed, chronological survey of the major events in India from the Amritsar massacre of 1919 to the end of the Emergency in 1977. In fact, Rushdie himself has said on several occasions that the novel is actually 'about' history and the way in which memory recovers and recreates the past. Not many critics, however, have chosen to pursue this approach to the book.

Rather than explore the novel's relation to history, the Academy has discussed it as a 'postmodern epic', a work of magic realism (or not), and a hybrid text that crosses elements of the Indian oral tradition with a critique of earlier British writers such as E. M. Forster and Paul Scott. 
From - Katherine Frank's  'Mr. Rushdie and Mrs. Gandhi' (


2) The Reluctant Fundamentalist: 

A young Pakistani man is chasing corporate success on Wall Street where he finds himself embroiled in a conflict between his American Dream, a hostage crisis, and the enduring call of his family s homeland.  It is a 2012 political thriller drama film based on the 2007 novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist byMohsin Hamid, directed by Mira Nair, starring Riz Ahmed and Kate Hudson in lead.[4] The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a post-9/11film, a movie about the impact on one man of the Al Qaida attacks and the American reaction to them. (Wikipedia)

3) The Black Prince:

The last King of Punjab, Maharajah Duleep Singh's kingdom was one of the most powerful and prosperous kingdoms of the 19th century before it was annexed by Britain. Placed on the throne at the age of five, he was robbed of his legacy by treason at the hands of trusted courtiers. He was then torn away from his mother and taken to England by the British at the age of fifteen. While in England, he was introduced to Queen Victoria, who took an immediate liking to him, calling him The Black Prince. Meeting his mother again after thirteen years, the Maharajah is awakened to the realities of his former life in Punjab. He then begins the arduous journey to regain all that was lost, and re-embrace the faith of his birth, Sikhism. As the character of Maharajah Duleep Singh evolves, is torn between two contrasting cultures - his royal ancestry from the Kingdom of Punjab as its last King, set against his upbringing in the UK as he embarks in a new journey of exile, away from his mother. Duleep Singh's lifelong journey to regain his identity, dignity, and Kingdom took him across the world but his struggle was not met with success. He never won the chance to set foot again in his own land of Punjab.(CBFC/DIL/2/62/2017-MUM)

How to Analyze a Film:

Points to remember while reviewing a film:

  • A film review should have a number of purposes:
  • To inform. The review needs to tell people who is in the film, who it is by and where or when readers can see it.
  • To describe. The review should describe the story, characters and some of the action - without spoiling the plot or giving too much away!
  • To analyse. A good review gives an opinion on whether the film is good or not and why.
  • To advise. Finally, the review should tell the reader whether or not to go and see the film.. .  Read BBC link from the below given links for further study.
  • A good movie review should entertain, persuade and inform, providing an original opinion without giving away too much of the plot. A great movie review can be a work of art in its own right. Read on to learn how to analyze a movie, come up with an interesting thesis and write a review as entertaining as your source material.
  • Method 1 of 3: Studying Your Source Material
  • 1. Gather basic facts about the movie
2. Take notes on the movie as you watch it.
3. Analyze the mechanics of the movie
Method 2 of 3: Composing Your Review

1. Create an original thesis based on your analysis.
2. Follow your thesis paragraph with a short plot summary.
3. Move into your analysis of the movie.
4. Use plenty of examples to back up your points.
5. Give it some personality.
6. Wrap up your review with a conclusion
Method 3 of 3: Polishing Your Piece
1. Edit your review.
2. Proofread your review.
3. Publish or share your review (in form of COMMENT under this blog and also on your personal blog) . . . read more on wikihow link given below.

Some examples of reviews:

  1. To do cinematic justice to Salman Rushdie’s novel “Midnight’s Children,” it would take a razzle-dazzle entertainer with Bollywood flair and a literary bent, someone equally at home with comedy and allegory, ghosts and little snot-nosed boys, Indian history and Indian myth. (
  2. Though a bit literal for a film that traffics in magical realism, Deepa Mehta'sMidnight's Children is both dreamy and dramatic, a fascinating view of Indian history seen through the prism of a personal -- and occasionally twinned -- story. (
  3. The film, directed by Deepa Mehta (“Water”), is stunning to watch. Between the colorful textiles and the lush landscapes, the elephants on parade and the stilt walkers, “Midnight’s Children” is a visual treat. (
  4. As a result, Midnight’s Children has neither the magic nor the realism of the magic realist narrative it regurgitates into soft, digestible pablum for a Western audience it clearly expects little but cooing approval from. (

Some examples of reviews of 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist':

  1. Relations between east and west, and the experience of the subcontinent diaspora in Britain and North America, have been the predominant concern ofMira Nair. Her perceptive, generous, inquiring films have pursued issues that the older, more reserved, less politically engaged Merchant-Ivory-Jhabvala team held back from. Based on a well-regarded novel by Mohsin Hamid, this schematic film interweaves two narratives in 2011 Lahore. (
  2. In his slim 2007 novel, “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” the Pakistan-born writer Mohsin Hamid takes these two words and rubs them together until they throw off intellectual sparks. Written as a monologue, it is a somewhat claustrophobic blurt of a book that, given world events, continues to feel eerily timely. (
  3. The story is recounted in flashback by Changez, now an academic back in Lahore, to an American journalist (Liev Schreiber) on the trail of a kidnapped professor. How deeply is this reluctant fundamentalist implicated in anti-American insurgency? Nair, adapting from the 2007 novel by Mohsin Hamid, draws a terrific performance from Ahmed as the divided hero, mild-mannered then warier by degrees. (
  4. But Khan's challenge comes less from without and more from within. He questions his identity, while his conscience struggles with his ethical choices. He is a Third World man rising to the heights of an imperialist nation. As an American, he benefits from our foreign interventions exploiting his "own people." Further, he contributes to the problem: In arranging mergers and acquisitions, he himself drives thousands of people into unemployment. (

A few Reviews of The Black Prince:


Reading resources on 'How to review film?'

Friday 17 January 2014

Worksheet: Screening Movie The Da Vinci Code based on novel by Dan Brown

Worksheet: 'The Da Vinci Code'

The Da Vinci Code, Columbia Pictures (2006), directed by Ron Howard from a script by Akiva Goldsman (based on the novel by Dan Brown); producers Brian Grazer and John Calley. Cinematography by Salvatore Totino; score by Hans Zimmer. With Tom Hanks (Robert Langston), Audrey Tautou (Sophie Neveu), Ian McKellen (Leigh Teabing), Jean Reno (Bezu Fache), Paul Bettany (Silas), Alfred Molina (Bishop Aringarosa). 148 minutes. (Goldsman and Brown)
Pre-viewing Task:

·      Genre:

o   What is suspense thriller?
o   Have you come across any novels by Sidney Sheldon?
o   Have you watched any film by Alfred Hitchcock?
·        Central Theme:
o   What is conspiracy theory?
o   What is conspiracy fiction?
o   What is Mary Magdalene's role in the history of Christianity.
§  “The power of the female and her ability to produce life was once very sacred, but it posed a threat to the rise of the predominantly male Church, and so the sacred feminine was demonized and called unclean.
§  It was man, not God, who created the concept of 'original sin,' whereby Eve tasted of the apple and caused the downfall of the human race. Woman, once the sacred giver of life, was now the enemy."
§  “This concept of woman as life-bringer was the foundation of ancient religion.”
§  “Sadly, Christian philosophy decided to embezzle the female's creative power by ignoring biological truth and making man the Creator.”
§  “Genesis tells us that Eve was created from Adam's rib. Woman became an offshoot of man. And a sinful one at that. Genesis was the beginning of the end for the goddess."
* "It's important to remember that the ancients' view of sex was entirely opposite from ours today. Sex begot new life - the ultimate miracle - and miracles could be performed only by a god. The ability of the woman to produce life from her womb made her sacred. A god... It's a deeply sacrosanct ceremony".

While-viewing Task:

While watching the movie The Da Vinci Code, keep an eye on following questions:
1.     Compare the beginning of the Novel (Brown) and that of the movie. What difference do you notice? Which narrative seems to be more effective? Give your reasons.
2.     How is Christianity challenged in novel? What sort of religious controversy is discussed?
3.     Which truth from the life of Jesus Christ was buried and constant attempts were made to hide some facts? WHY?
4.     Da Vinci’s painting is symbolically observed by symbologists like Leigh Teabing and Robert Langdon. How do they read symbols? What do they deconstruct in the process of re-reading Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting?
5.     Explain the symbolism in ‘Holy Grail’? How is this symbol re-interpreted in the novel by Dan Brown?
6.     Concept clarification: Watch carefully to understand following terms:
a. Symbology (Iconography)
b.     Sarcophagus (Mary Magdalene's Sarcophagus in 'The Da Vinci Code')
c.      Merovingian Dynasty
d.     Opus Dei
e.      Priory of Scion
o. Sangreal = (Sang (blood) + Real (royal) / San (Holy) + Greal (Grail)
p. Pantacle (Up and Down Triangle) = Male + Female = Creation of Life  

7. How does the portrayal of Sophie's character in the movie observe the sanctity of 'Feminine Sacredness'?

Film Review - Da Vinci Code

Post-viewing Task: 

  1. Brown states on his website that his books are not anti-Christian, though he is on a 'constant spiritual journey' himself, and says that his book The Da Vinci Code is simply "an entertaining story that promotes spiritual discussion and debate" and suggests that the book may be used "as a positive catalyst for introspection and exploration of our faith."
  2.  “Although it is obvious that much of what Brown presented in his novel as absolutely true and accurate is neither of those, some of that material is of course essential to the intrigue, and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman has retained the novel's core, the Grail-related material: the sacred feminine, Mary Magdalene's marriage, the Priory of Sion, certain aspects of Leonardo's art, and so on[1].” How far do you agree with this observation of Norris J. Lacy?
  3. (If)You have studied ‘Genesis’ (The Bible), ‘The Paradise Lost’ (John Milton) and ‘The Da Vinci Code’ (Dan Brown). Which of the narrative/s seem/s to be truthful? Whose narrative is convincing to the contemporary young mind?
  4. What harm has been done to humanity by the biblical narration or that of Milton’s in The Paradise Lose? What sort of damage does narrative like ‘The Vinci Code’ do to humanity?
  5. What difference do you see in the portrayal of 'Ophelia' (Kate Winslet) in Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet, 'Elizabeth' (Helena Bonham Carter) in Kenneth Branagh's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein or 'Hester Prynne' (Demi Moore) in Roland JoffĂ©'s The Scarlet Letter' or David Yates's 'Harmione Granger' (Emma Watson) in last four Harry Potter films - and 'Sophie Neuve' (Audrey Tautau) in Ron Howard's The Da Vinci Code? How would justify your answer?
  6. Do novel / film lead us into critical (deconstructive) thinking about your religion? Can we think of such conspiracy theory about Hindu religious symbols / myths?
  7. Have you come across any similar book/movie, which tries to deconstruct accepted notions about Hindu religion or culture and by dismantling it, attempts to reconstruct another possible interpretation of truth?
  8. When we do traditional reading of the novel ‘The Da Vinci Code’, Robert Langdon, Professor of Religious Symbology, Harvard University emerges as protagonist and Sir Leigh Teabing, a British Historian as antagonist. Who will claim the position of protagonist if we do atheist reading of the novel?
  9. Explain Ann Gray’s three propositions on ‘knowability’ with illustrations from the novel ‘The Da Vinci Code’.
a.       1) Identifying what is knowable 
b.      2) identifying and acknowledging the relationship of the knower and the known
c.      3) What is the procedure for ‘knowing’?


    Brown, Dan. The Da Vinci Code. Great Britain: Transworld Publisher, 2003.
    The Da Vinci Code. By Akiva Goldsman and Dan Brown. Dir. Ron Howard. Perf. Tom Hanks. Prods. Brian Grazer and John Calley. 2006.

    [1] From: Arthuriana, Vol. 16, No. 4, SARACENS IN MALORY (WINTER 2006), pp. 83-85Published by: Scriptorium PressStable URL:

    Monday 23 September 2013

    Worksheet: Film Screening - Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party

    Worksheet: Film Screening 

    Film Screening: ‘The Birthday Party - a British drama film (1968)- directed by 
    William Friedkin (The Birthday Party) -  based on an unpublished screenplay by 2005 Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter, which he adapted from his own play The Birthday Party (Pinter, The Birthday Party).

    Online Quiz on 'The Birthday Party'

    Pre-Viewing Tasks:

    • ·         Harold Pinter – the man and his works (Pinter, The Birthday Party)
    • ·         Comedy of Menace: Whose plays are known so? Who termed it? What are its peculiar characteristics? How is it different from Absurd Theatre?
    • ·         Explain ‘Pinteresque’ – Pinter pause and use of ‘Silence’ in the play: a particular atmosphere and environment in drama.
    • ·         ‘The Birthday Party’ – an allegory of ‘artist in exile and other interpretations
    • ·         ‘The Birthday Party’ as a Political Play with reference to Harold Pinter’s Noble Speech: ‘Art, Truth & Politics[1]’. (Pinter, Art, Truth & Politics: Excerpts from the 2005 Nobel Lecture)

    While – Viewing Tasks:

    • ·         Harriet Deer and Irving Deer’s article[2] on Pinter's "The Birthday Party": The Film and the Play. (Deer and Deer)
    • ·         A comparison of the film and play versions of ‘The Birthday Party’ affords us a rare opportunity to gain insight into how a reconception of a play into film may affect the dramatic experience it communicates. Mark the way Pinter treats the texture of the play.
    • ·         Observe how Pinter gives us the texture-the sounds and sights of a world without structure, which is the heart and soul of the play also.
    • ·         How many times the ‘knocking at the door’ happens in the play? Is it creating menacing effect while viewing the movie?
    • ·         How are ‘silences’ and ‘pauses’ used in the movie to give effect of lurking danger – how it helps in building the texture of comedy of menace.
    • ·         Comment upon the use of things like mirror, toy drum, newspapers, breakfast, chairs, window-hatch etc in the movie. What sort of symbolic reading can you give to these objects?
    • ·         How effective are scenes like ‘Interrogation scene’ (Act 1), ‘Birthday Party scene’ (Act 2) and ‘Faltering Goldberg & Petey’s timid resistance scene’ (Act 3) captured in the movie?
    • Post-Viewing Tasks:
    • ·         Why are two scenes of Lulu omitted from the movie?
    • ·         Is movie successful in giving us the effect of menace? Where you able to feel it while reading the text?
    • ·         Do you feel the effect of lurking danger while viewing the movie? Where you able to feel the same while reading the text
    • What do you read in 'newspaper' in the movie? Petey is reading newspaper to Meg, it torn into pieces by McCain, pieces are hidden by Petey in last scene.
    • Camera is positioned over the head of McCain when he is playing Blind Man's Buff and is positioned at the top with a view of room like a cage (trap) when Stanley is playing it. What interpretations can you give to these positioning of camera? 
    • "Pinter restored theater to its basic elements: an enclosed space and unpredictable dialogue, where people are at the mercy of one another and pretense crumbles." (Pinter, Art, Truth & Politics: Excerpts from the 2005 Nobel Lecture). Does this happen in the movie?
    • ·         How does viewing movie help in better understanding of the play ‘The Birthday Party’ with its typical characteristics (like painteresque, pause, silence, menace, lurking danger)?
    • ·         With which of the following observations you agree:

    o   “It probably wasn't possible to make a satisfactory film of "The Birthday Party."
    o    “It's impossible to imagine a better film of Pinter's play than this sensitive, disturbing version directed by William Friedkin”[3]. (Ebert)

    • ·        If you were director or screenplay writer, what sort of difference would you make in the making of movie?
    • ·         Who would be your choice of actors to play the role of characters?
    •      Do you see any similarities among Kafka's Joseph K. (in 'The Trial'), Orwell's Winston Smith (in 'Nineteen Eighty-Four') and Pinter's Victor (in 'One for the Road')?  

    The famous interrogation scene from the movie 'The Birthday Party':

    The film version of the play can be viewed here:

    Want to listen amazing video-speech by Harold Pinter on the occasion of his being awarded Nobel Prize in 2005? 



    Ebert, Roger. Movie Review: The Birthday Party. Ed. Roger Ebert. 23 Sept. 2013 <>.
    Pinter, Harold. "Art, Truth & Politics: Excerpts from the 2005 Nobel Lecture." World Literature Today May-Jun 2006: 21-27.
    —. The Birthday Party. New Delhi: Faber And Faber (penguin India), 1960, 1991.
    The Birthday Party. By Harold Pinter. Dir. William Friedkin. Perf. Robert Shaw, et al. Prods. Max Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky. Continental Motion Pictures Corporation, 1968.
    The film can be viewed online here:

    [1] Art Truth &Politics: Excerpts from the 2005 Nobel Lecture Author(s): Harold Pinter. Source: World Literature Today, Vol. 80, No. 3 (May - Jun., 2006), pp. 21-27Published by: Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma. Stable URL:
    [2] Pinter's "The Birthday Party": The Film and the Play. Author(s): Harriet Deer and Irving Deer. Source: South Atlantic Bulletin, Vol. 45, No. 2 (May, 1980), pp. 26-30Published by: South Atlantic Modern Language Association. Stable URL: