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February 1994


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"P.J. O'Connell (PA)" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 7 Feb 1994 22:01:19 -0500
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A while back, there were postings regarding films depicting filmaking.  This
is a related item.
  One of the better records of filmaking, IMHO, is THE PHOTOGRAPHS OF
CHACHAJI, which appeared in the NEW YORKER 21 and 28 July, 1980; it later
was published as a book of the same name.  Ved Mehta, a well-known Indian
author, was content expert, contact person, writer and narrator of a
documentary film titled "Chachaji, My Poor Relation," produced as part of
the WORLD series in 1978, with David Fanning as executive producer and
William Cran as producer.  The book is Mehta's record of the production
  Mehta had no documentary experience and was sought out by Fanning on the
basis of his reputation as a writer about India.  His observations on the
filmmaking process -- technical, political, and human -- are perceptive, to
say the least.  He ends the process by finding the finished film "a
remarkable accomplishment," a somewhat surprising conclusion given the many
compromises of his vision of India that the process has entailed.  It's a
remarkably insightful record.
  The film strikes me as a minor piece; the effort, the intentions, the
intrigues, the compromises of filmmaking seem lost in a rather thin view of
an extremely complex and difficult subject.  Perhaps it shows only that film
has enormous limitations in such circumstances, or perhaps it's just not a
very good film.  But Mehta's recording is excellent, and with the film as a
companion, it makes an fine illustration.
  Both the book and the film are available.
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