Movie Mahal

An online film journal for Indian Cinema

KANDAHAR / THE RUINS (Dir. Mrinal Sen, 1983, India)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gaze of the photographer Subhash (Naseeruddin Shah) is one that shows little compassion for the predicament of those imprisoned in the past. Whilst the initial reaction to marry Jamini (Shabana Azmi) is motivated by sentiment, it holds no actual validity or merit when the decisive moment arises. Subhash sees reality through the lens of his camera – it is a critical distance that stops him from becoming emotionally involved with the subject. The image of Jamini he captures frozen in the milieu of the feudal ruins transforms her plea for escape into a ghostly memory akin to the photos hanging grotesquely in the photo studio of Subhash. He is strictly an observer and preserver of reality which is an aspect of his flawed and troubling personality that Jamini is unable to comprehend. Additionally, Subhash views the feudal past through a tourist like perspective. Jamini is rendered a prisoner of the past by simplifying reality through his photographic lens which essentially cannibalizes rural India and re-presents it as a collection of palatable and stereotypical images. If Subhash is a likely authorial expression of Sen the film maker then he directly implicates himself in the criticism that films allow audiences to pass through historical narratives as casual tourists – such is the guilt free journey taken by Subhash. Subhash feels the disassociating gaze of the camera empowers him and lets him unassumingly think he sees everything but Sen juxtaposes the urban gaze of Subhash with the ancient and truthful gaze of the bed ridden blind widow/mother of Jamini. The mother, a symbol of feudal decay, may represent the past but her failed attempt to construct a link between the past and present cannot transpire given the distance between the urban and rural is simply too extreme. A number of films come to mind that offer interesting formal links including Kamal Amrohi’s gothic noir Mahal (The Mansion, 1949), Antonioni’s L’Avventura (The Adventure, 1960) and The Passenger (1975). Kandahar is one of Sen’s most ideologically and stylistically complex works whilst the final image of the helpless Jamini (Shabana Azmi) reduced to a photographic memory is a haunting one.

Advertisements

3 comments on “KANDAHAR / THE RUINS (Dir. Mrinal Sen, 1983, India)

  1. Gokul R
    May 28, 2011

    Is this released as a DVD ?
    Have been looking for this movie for a long time.

    Like

  2. Omar Ahmed
    May 30, 2011

    Hi Gokul. The film was recently restored through a digital process and actually premiered at Cannes in 2010. I saw Kandahar on a VCD copy – you can order it from Induna.com – the picture and sound are both good.

    Like

  3. Gokul R
    May 30, 2011

    Thanks for the information Omar.
    But, VCD means no subs and that was a block for me …

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on May 28, 2011 by in Auteur, Gothic, Mrinal Sen, Naseeruddin Shah, New Indian Cinema, Parallel Cinema, Shabana Azmi.

OMAR AHMED

PhD Researcher (Indian Parallel Cinema), The University of Manchester (AHRC 2015).

Teacher of Film & Media.
Freelance Writer & Cinephile.

Contact:
oahmed5@gmail.com

STUDYING INDIAN CINEMA (Auteur, 2015)

DIRECTORY OF WORLD CINEMA: INDIA (2015)

Archives

%d bloggers like this: