Rain in Indian Cinema (Part 1)

Film types go to the Cannes Film Festival for different agendas.  Others attend because they have a chance of sitting in one room with foreign film directors, and hear about how, when and why made their films.

The disadvantage of not living in countries where films are shot is that we miss out on interviews with directors about production logistics.  Sure, you can get it on line but nothing beats being there.

That is where platforms such as the Berlin Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Montreal and many others come in handy, because that is where foreigners like me hear directors and producers speak.

I’m interested in what goes on in pre-production.  Do Indian directors have weather men and women?  I don’t mean those on television who say it will partly cloudy in Goa, and sunny in Agra but people in the crew who must find out when it will be raining so that the director can get the shot he wants. 

I always wonder about how Indian directors shoot nature, the rain in particular.  Some of it is done in the studio, but I’ve seen some real rain in the few movies I’ve seen. 

In Monsoon Wedding, Mira Nair gave us various scenes to show us what happens in Delhi during a monsoon, but what made me wonder even more is the last scene, where everyone is dancing and frolicking in the rain. 

Much as I enjoyed the film, with more than 60 speaking parts, I could not find the answer to my question, where are the cameras and lights in such a situation?

My interest in how Directors of Photography set up a scene sometimes gets in the way.  Instead of wondering about Aditi (Vasundhara Das) being caught with Vikram, her married lover at night just a few days of her wedding in the film Monsoon wedding, I was thinking about the rain beating the car while they smooched fervently.  How did Mira Nair set up such a scene?

As a thoroughly British-educated person, I know everything about England but very little about the former British Empire which includes India, a huge land mass colonised by a country as big as a single pearl.  History teachers didn’t teach me much about India, except its rivers, the population figures and the monsoon. 

Now that I’m doing my own education, I find weather conditions in books such as Shoba Narayan’s Monsoon Diary, Kamala Markandaya’s Nectar in a Sieve and Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy fascinating. 


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