Arghya Basu graduated from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata and studied at the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), specializing in editing. He had taught films in various academic organizations for several years and designed courses for Mass Communication and Film Studies. He had been conducting, resourcing interdisciplinary workshops with several academic institutions including SRFTI, NID, Vishvabharati University, KRIVA etc. His films including Listener’s Tale, Mt. Witness and Death, Life, etc. have been screened and acclaimed across the globe.
Rajula Shah is one of the most important contemporary artistes working with cinema, poetry and visual arts. Following her Master’s Degree in English, she went to study direction in FTII in 1997. She has been actively working for more than a decade now exploring fiction, nonfiction, photography, digital arts and video installations in her pursuit. Her films include DO HAFTE GUZARTE DO HAFTE NAHIN LAGTE and SABAD NIRANTAR.
Discussions on the digital shift bring out different responses from the pair of them. Arghya Basu feels it has become largely about responsibilities, choices and their abuse on various levels. It is an irony and paradox of empowerment and banality. Rajula Shah interjects that it is more about the notion of speed, which comes along with digital that in turn leads to further choices and decisions. The discussion dwell on the idea of power, which apparently has shifted to the audience in terms of viewing practices but Arghya Basu, is keener about its ramification in the larger context of the overall power structure of the nation/society. As practitioners working in the public domain, as filmmakers and digital artistes is what should be driving them.
Rajula Shah raises an interesting point about aurality, not just as a cinematic aspect but an almost philosophical endeavor. There is a continuous fluid quality, which unlike the images cannot be ‘scanned’ if it is to be perceived. This makes it the deciding factor when it comes to a film’s duration on timeline. Furthermore, the very movement of ears is inward an opposed to the eyes which is outward. They both discuss and cite examples of different cinemas in terms of their aural approach.
Continuing with the discussion on the audience control in viewing practices, Arghya Basu points out Rajula Shah’s current project titled Nomad’s Land. It is an interactive cinema, as she explains which meticulously reconstructs a historical pilgrimage using various forms and media such as sound, images, still photography, etc. This kind of endeavor takes the idea of editing out of the equation, as the experience of time becomes a choice of the viewer.
Coming back to the discussion on the physical process of film editing, Arghya refers Walter Murch, the famous American film editor and sound designer, who always tried to go beyond the conventional process of logging rushes and scnning it in a typical linear script driven path. He rather suggested many subjective, organic ways of delving into the huge amount of images and sound and that might lead to some new exciting shades in telling the story in films. This approach makes the whole mamoth process of film editing more creative and enjoyable.