There are film directors I have known about, for years, mainly because of the blockbuster movies they have directed. Then, there are directors that I have heard of in the passing, but whose films I have never explored.
There also exist films that I have seen, but possibly cannot recall who directed them. And lastly, there are directors whose names or filmographies are entirely alien to me.
Director’s Cut covers each of the above scenarios making for a brilliant, informative, and entertaining read.
World Cinema is an acquired taste. For me, it has long been a way to judge the love a person has towards films. Any true cinephile should somewhat be knowledgeable about films being made outside of their own country.
Director’s Cut by M. K. Raghavendra is a crash course in World Cinema. His introduction, wherein he explains his criteria for selecting the directors, seems a bit academic, but his essays on the 50 directors from around the world are anything but that.
Raghavendra covers directors whose body of work has been prominent from the 1960s onwards. That’s his cut off year. What we get as a result is a combination of film-makers that have been responsible for bringing a revolution, with their unique characteristics, in the art of filmmaking, over the last half a century.
Director’s Cut is an easy read. Because each of the 50 international directors gets an equal share of space in the book, it’s easy to jump around from one to another. This allows the reader to explore cinema’s prominence in developing the ethos of society around the world.
Raghavendra doesn’t let the reader get bored. He informs, but also leaves enough space for the avid movie goer to discover more about the directors on their own.
His essays, which comprise of a small biography, followed by discussions about the director’s premier works, last around six to seven pages each. As a result, the reader gets to be on a whirlwind tour of cinema across decades, genres, and physical boundaries.
The author carefully looks at the movies and the characters that have defined these directors and then discusses the effects each one has had over the years, primarily focusing on how the director has progressed from one body of work to another, never shying away from stating his real opinion about the films.
The book, in my eyes, only falters on one occasion. In the process of discussing the works of the directors, at times Raghavendra has to divulge in the ending or explain some of the critical moments of their movies. While he tries his best to avoid spoilers, it’s not an easy task when making a point about the thought process of the director.
Herein lies a dilemma for the reader. It’s not hard to skip specific paragraphs and come back to them later, once you have watched the film, but it does break the flow. Nevertheless, since Raghavendra doesn’t talk about every movie of the director, it’s also not a problem that should stop you from experiencing the vastness of the information that forms the crux of the book.
Director’s Cut shines because Raghavendra, who seems to possess a door leading straight into the psyche of a modern cine-buff, picks directors like Satyajit Ray, Akira Kurosawa, and Francois Truffaut who would satisfy the purists. But, then goes on to write about Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Woody Allen, individuals that would interest your everyday moviegoer who is content with popular or blockbuster cinema.
Raghavendra doesn’t just stop there as he goes on to write about Wong Kar-Wai, Bong Joon-Ho, Raj Kapoor, and Zhang Yimou to feature Asian cinema. This follows directors such as Abbas Kiarostami, Krzysztof Kieslowski, and Pedro Almodovar, who without a doubt are responsible for the ever disappearing boundaries that have separated cinema all these years.
In fact, so in tune is Raghavendra with today’s cinema-going public, that he doesn’t forget Quentin Tarantino and Takeshi Kitano whose “pulp cinema” has been both controversial and entertaining.
50 directors, 50 essays on those very souls who have made modern cinema a marvel; Director’s Cut is a beautiful addition to any film fan’s library. It is a necessity for anyone who has even the remotest interest in cinema, but essential for the one who is yet to discover the magic that is World Cinema.
I know you are wondering how a book on Indian Cinema ended up here, in the middle of a travel blog. Last year, around this time, I went off on a tangent and decided to focus on films, via reviews, which captured different aspects of life from across the world.
Similarly, I feel that Indian Cinema is an integral part of who we are here in this country. Most of us breathe movies, love them, and hate them, with equal passion.
Going to the cinema is second nature to Indians. It is a chance for the family to enjoy a “masala blockbuster” together. A way for lovers to hide in the darkness of the theatre for some intimate time. And of course, an opportunity to forget about real life and lose ourselves in the stories on the silver screen for a few hours.
So, this time I decided to feature books based on Indian Cinema (and on a couple of occations World Cinema) that should hopefully give you an insight into what films mean to the people in India and also highlight some individuals who made “Bollywood” what it is – the largest film industry of the world.
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