Darker Side Of Colors

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 PMNov (Cinema, Media, Musings)

More fruits the tree bears, more she bows?- i asked myself as i saw the photo of the legendary cinematographer V.K. Murthy receiving the Dada Phalke Award. Running short of better expressions one must say that he “redefined” the art of cinematography in India. And when we say that he is the first film technician to win the Phalke award we know that it comes very lately to him. Any way, better late than never.

For me, the happiness regarding the honor for Murthy sahab was drowned in the pain triggered by the damage being done to his art. Yes, damage to his art. Son of Guru Dutt’ son Arun has announced that the film Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam is being colored and the color version will be released soon. Possibly, Pyaasa and Kaagaz Ke Phool are also lined up for coloring.

Picasso’s painting being torn apart, Rodin’s thinker being damaged, a man climbing on the PIETA of Michelangelo and like many such things, to me, the coloring of the films of Guru Dutt is yet another attack on a piece of art.

There is absolutely no need to explain the relationship between Guru Dutt and Murthy sahab. For any lover of cinema these two names go together. One cannot exist without the other. It was Guru Dutt who introduced Murthy sahab as a cinematographer and it was Murthy sahab who wrote poetry on screen for the films of Guru Dutt, with light and shadow.

The journal Arts And Ideas once had carried an article on the films of Guru Dutt. I cant remember as to who the author was. But the title remains within me. It remains within me, still, because it defined the films of Guru Dutt. The title read REALM OF SHADOWS. During the interval in the preview of Kaagaz Ke Phool, it is said, Shammi Kapoor came out screaming “Where is the hero of the film?” and someone pointed out where Guru Dutt was, Shammi Kapoor said, “Nahi Murthy kahaan hai wohi hai iss film ka hero.” (No where is Murthy? He is the hero of the film) That is how beautifully the images of Murthy sahab spoke in the films of Guru Dutt. And it is these images which are being tampered now. In a way the hero of the film (the visuals) are being tampered with.

Murthy sahab has not been consulted for the coloring project. Why will he be asked? He is just an artist not the owner of the film. If G.S. Bhaskar says, “ownership of the image lies with the cinematographer,” it sounds good and politically correct, but not legally correct. Murthy sahab says he doesn’t approve of coloring. As M.S. Sathyu rightly said, “Coloring Mughal-E-Azam is different from coloring any of Murthy and Guru Dutt’s films.”

Many criticized the famous Christ image of Pyaasa , then, saying there was no light on Guru Dutt’s face. Murthy sahab reacted to the criticisms saying, “How can there be light on his face in that given situation?” Emoting through image, an idea Indian cinematographers hadn’t thought of. Probably Murthy sahab today must be asking, “How can there be color in the films of Guru Dutt?” But who will listen?

When Guru Dutt committed suicide Murthy sahab cried not for Guru Dutt but for himself. Because he knew that no one would let him work the way Guru Dutt did. No one would understand his art the way Guru Dutt did. No one. Not even the man who carries Guru Dutt’s DNA.

21 March 2010

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