Wednesday, June 5
*Introduced by Naeem Mohaiemen.
(1971, Mrinal Sen) Colonial monuments come down as desperate-for-a-job Ranjit Mallick searches the city for a Western-style suit in time for his interview with a multinational corporation. The first in the Marxist enfant terrible of Indian Cinema’s “Calcutta Trilogy,” a turn to more political and formally radical work, inspired in part by Sen’s exposure to Solanas, Rocha, and others. In Bengali, with live English subtitles. 16mm print courtesy Arsenal, Berlin. Approx. 101 min.
“A mordant attack both on the notions of bourgeois respectability inherited from the colonial past and on an entirely new threat to India’s sense of identity.”
– John Wakeman
“Freeze-frames are weaponised by Sen in Interview, as shots of Mallick’s handsome urbane lead are jarringly interspersed with scenes of impoverished children. In using images of poverty, Sen never stopped interrogating his own position and privilege as an urban filmmaker. The Calcutta trilogy in particular underscores his absolute rejection of representations of poverty as somehow dignified, and his refusal to let the Indian middle classes off the hook for benefiting from a colonial legacy of social inequality.”
– Shruti Narayanswamy, Sight & Sound
“The distinction between political and aesthetic audacity is obliterated.”
– Richard Brody, The New Yorker
“Neorealist in conception... There’s no De Sica–like pathos here, though: instead Sen heaps on the absurdist comedy, has Mallick address the camera out of character, and by the end has phase-shifted the film into a series of performance-art pieces.”
– Sukhdev Sandhu, 4 Columns