In a distant future, when you look back to refresh your memories, I hope you come across this letter because this is your love story. It’s about your love for cinema, to be precise.
When you were six years old, I remember that you had watched Jurassic Park in a cinema hall. You didn’t understand a word of English, but you were enthralled by the film. Maybe that’s when you fell in love with movies, although I suppose you didn’t realise this back then.
And slowly, you began watching so many films that it kind of shaped your conscience. In a bizarre way, it served as a reminder that movies have a mysterious power to transport you to a different realm where you submit yourself, unconditionally, to the vision of another person. It’s like the equation which a God and a devotee share. You can’t explain what or why you feel so, but it’s bliss.
Cut to 2017
This is the eighth year of your career as a writer and I hate to tell you this, but you have become a lot more cynical in the past few years. You no longer have the same awe and respect for cinema as when you were a kid. In an attempt to figure out the magic of movies, you became critical of your own emotions.
But guess what? You did rediscover your fascination for films and why you fell in love with films in the first place. And for that alone, 2017 should always be an important year in your life.
People think that film journalists have an easy job. You just watch movies, review them, interview celebrities, write about them, put your thoughts out there – as simple as that. It’s not. I don’t know how to put this across, but it’s one of the scariest jobs because every time you watch a film, it fills you with so many emotions, both positive and negative, that you change as a person.
If anyone tells you that they are impervious to such feelings, then I have a hunch that they may be lying to you. You feel naked and distraught when you put your thoughts across because that might not be the most appropriate way to describe your feelings. You’ll come across a lot people who might say, “Hey… no one cares, why bother?” Naah. You care. You care about all this even more when you watch films which need a voice. You care about all this when you a film breaks your heart because it’s that good.
Memories are tricky. You think you have the power to remember everything, but as you grow old, your memories begin to lose details. You could try all you want, but it’s hard to explain what you felt on that particular day when you watched a particular film.
And this year, that day for you, Hemanth, was April 27, 2017.
You were sitting in one of the screens at Prasads Multiplex in Hyderabad waiting for the premiere of SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali: The Conclusion. And the next three hours of your life were the best of the lot you had that year.
It wasn’t about whether the film was good or not (of course, you loved it), but in the run up to the film’s release and in the next few days, you learnt an invaluable lesson – Cinema is bigger than an individual.
You were so immersed in the film that you forgot to clap, whistle, scream. And for those three hours, you didn’t even think about what you were going to write about the film. It’s funny I say this, because you spoke and wrote so much about the film that a lot of your friends and well-wishers were concerned that you might have gone mad. They wouldn’t know what it felt like to watch that film through your eyes. You were like a kid who listened to stories of kings and battles from his grandmother. Few things are actually priceless.
There comes a point in a film journalist’s life when the people he comes across teach him/her something that he’s always wanted to know. In an interview, you look for lessons on how they made a film, how a certain scene was staged, how an action sequence was planned. If you haven’t worked on a film set, this is perhaps the second best thing to do. And I should thank the whole team of Baahubali 2 for their generosity and patience in spending time with me and sharing their insights about how the film was made.
There are a lot of people who think that they have seen better films. We all have. But it’s magical when you watch a film and feel instantly that you have a lot to learn from the people who worked on it. If watching Baahubali 2 was my biggest joy this year, I was also thrilled while watching two other films that were on the opposite ends of the spectrum – Arjun Reddy and Fidaa. And don’t forget PSV Garuda Vega. And Siddharth’s Gruham. And OMG… how can you forget Karthi’s Khakee, which was absolutely thrilling.
Some films urge you to run along with them and make you sweat hard to convey your emotions. It’s worth the effort when you see such a film. A lot of times, I get tired. But after watching so many well-made films in 2017, which reignited the flame of zeal once again, I’m ready to run again.
One of the biggest lessons that I learnt this year was that there will always be a few films that take you by surprise. Now, it’s my duty to pay attention to even those films whose trailers don’t blow your mind. You never know what might change you as a person. Because God is in the little details, which give soul to a film.
So, thank you for reminding me why I love movies. I can look back at 2017 and say that amidst all the mundane stuff, I found a few gems which filled my spirit with joy and instilled enthusiasm to keep moving forward. Tomorrow will be the dawn of a new year. Who knows what else is in store for you. Keep walking. And keep dreaming.
Wishing you a happy new year.
Views expressed are author's own.