The Film Appreciation Course 2007 (FA) - Part 3: The Lectures

by meeta | 2 comments | 4,542 views | Add comment

This is the third post in a series about about the film appreciation course I did last summer. The first post was about the overall experience. The second one discussed the selection of movies and what I liked and the very little I did not. This one is about the lectures’ section of the course.

Exactly an year ago, this day, we stood in a line to complete the registration process and get introduced to the faculty and organizers of the course. Here’s to the wonderful relationships that I made there. For one reason or the other this series of posts kept making the “things that can be postponed list”. Anyhow, here it is - out of foggy memory from a year ago, and scribbled notes that don’t make complete sense anymore. Nevertheless, I’m sure you will get a gist of what we were lectured on.General discussion on films
Like any fairly structured course, this one too built up slowly. The course started with general discussions on films, the different kinds of films, and comparison of this medium to other forms of art, like theater and the written word. Discussions in these lectures ranged from the obvious ‘different genres of films’ to how the viewing experience is different when you watch the same content on film versus on television. Basic concepts used by film-makers to get their message across like motifs and more generally, metaphors were talked about too.The flow of topics touched upon by Prof. Chabbaria was smooth, hence logical and thought-provoking - loads of fascinating theories! But, the open session with the then-director of FTII, Tripurari Sharan was one of the most unproductive lectures - in my life, friends, not just this course. The only thing that I was sure of when the 3.5 hours were done was that Mr. Sharan had attended the Cannes Festival and that he had an extremely condescending attitude towards the students.

(Click here for session details)

Technicalities! Technicalities!!
Going into the course, I was anticipating a cursory introduction to the process of film-making. Again while I was not completely satisfied, there were some lectures that made the entire course worth sitting through the ones the unstructured ones. Prof. Yogesh Mathur’s lecture on editing was easily the most lucid description of the cutting and chopping that happens at the end of every movie. The other technical departments discussed were camera techniques, screenplay writing, theory of melodrama, film economics, film criticism, mise-en-scène, visual composition, narrative techniques, film and music, documentaries, and sound - and they were interesting in that order.

Prof. Hariharan is one of those rare teachers who knew both his subject and how to teach it well. He was the only one who kept his students engaged in the ‘theory of melodrama’ and ‘film economics’ by make his lectures fun.

I hoped for the lecture on sound being a revelation, but it ended up being a presentation of how the software Prof. Satish Kumar uses worked.

The departments glaringly missing were acting and direction. While it can be argued that everything discussed falls under direction, I was looking forward to knowing the techniques actors use to please and displease us.

(Click here for session details)

Where would we be without our history?
There was this whole series of lectures on history right from the inception of the concept of moving image to the more contemporary subjects like ‘Popular Indian cinema’. A lot of these discussions also involved lengthy discourses on the history of paintings, the eras, and the transition between these areas. The point being to draw a sort-of parallel between these eras and the phases that cinema has gone through in different parts of the world.

(Click here for session details)

Movies - The abstract art
I had no clue that this would be a part of this course. Film ‘appreciation’ course…duh!? Well, I’m glad it was. I must admit that I started off thinking it was all fluff. Thanks to the flaky ’style/body language’ of Prof. Gayatri Chatterjee and her choice of one flowery/go-look-in-the-dictionary word strung after the other forming a sentence that made no sense to me. Exactly! Just like this one!! But, much like a meditation course, I felt the impact after the course was over and began noticing changes in the way I looked at movies.

So, Madam Chatterjee, though your words definitely passed right through one ear to the other, they seem to yet have affected whatever lies in between. Yet, what I sorely missed was a detailed discussion on these movies. There was no time set aside for that and how I wish there was time to discuss different interpretations. How? Well, I wouldn’t mind a cut down on the history?

(Click here for session details)

Discussions with directors
After Prof. Mathur’s lecture on Editing, these were the most exciting sessions. At most times, the outcome of such a discussion would be an appreciation of the effort that went into making the movie, regardless of whether or not you liked it. I enjoyed the discussion on “Khosla ka Ghosla” with Dibakar Banerjee the most. After all, I got to talk about what I didn’t like about the movie. He was adorably receptive to criticism.

Easily the most amusing moment of the course was when all of us saw 3 hours dedicated to discussing Mr. Sharan’s movie. An unspoken, unanimous decision was taken to skip lectures that morning. So, while there were a few takers for the second half of that session, the first session, I am told, didn’t have a single student. Such was the effect of the 3 hours we spent with him in an open session earlier in the course.

(Click here for session details)

Of course, we skipped many more lectures and nicknamed a few professors. And of course, I won’t tell you which ones those were; go create your own memories. The warmth the memory of that one month brings is anyway, because of the time spent outside the classroom. Time spent making new friends who, as it turns out are here to stay.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Comments (2)

Click here for new comment

A review of FTII's film appreciation course...

A review of FTII's film appreciation course...


Hi Vrushalee,

Here you go -


Good luck!

Leave a new comment