The 1960s were a wonderful time for Indian cinema. The government set up the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) to impart cinema education and FFC (Film Finance Corporation) to fund creative cinema. The result - beginning 1969 India saw what is today called 'The New Indian Cinema' that resulted in some of the greatest films ever made in the nation.
Recently, with the advent of digital filmmaking, little droplets of creative cinema have been foreshadowing another cloud-burst of creativity. However, it needs patronage. Perhaps NFDC (National Film Development Corporation), transformed from FFC, would provide that shot in the arm to extremely talented, but unfinanced filmmakers in India. And "The Girl In Yellow Boots" (TGIYB), co-funded by NFDC, could be that game changer.
A British national of Indian origin, Ruth (Kalki), is in India looking for her dad who had left her when she was young. To fund her trip, she works in a shady massage parlour charging Rs.1000 to give 'happy endings' to her customers. She is caught up in her druggie boyfriend's mess but a greater mess awaits her in the discovery of her father.
TGIYB is good news for Indian cinema for many reasons. Firstly, it is perhaps India's first commercially released film to be not just entirely shot in digital (LSD was the first) but also shot on cameras that are usually used to shoot stills. Seeing what digital can do on big screen, like LSD, is an experience and lesson in filmmaking.
Secondly, it will perhaps become the second innings of NFDC. The brilliant films produced by its precursor FFC in the 1970s and 1980s will vouch for the veracity of how much creative cinema needs and deserves governmental patronage. In a few months' time NFDC will also release Dibakar Banerjee's "Shanghai".
Shot in 13 days, TGIYB is spot on in almost all departments. It is carried forward by a stellar performance from its cast, especially Kalki Kochelin, who's also the co-writer.
TGIYB is a statement on modern life and society. The character of Ruth, despite her seeming loss of innocence and purity, is the purest character in the film. Yet, like a beautiful flower in full bloom, she is trampled upon by a ruthless society that ceaselessly uses her. Her yellow boots becomes a metaphor for the beauty and cheer that is stolen from her.
Violence, though rarely physical, is inflicted upon her till she becomes insensitive to the innocence of another like her. Her trampling seems complete, till in the end she redeems himself, by refusing to act as per her impulse.
This is a typical Anurag Kashyap film as it returns us to the themes that form the backdrop in many of his films - sex, drugs and violence. The quirky characterization and the pun of language is all there. Who else can pun a name 'Chittiappa Gowda' and pull it off or juxtapose the banal telephonic conversation of a chatty woman and serious confrontation on phone between mother and daughter at the same time?
Yet, the film is also atypical of Anurag for unlike his other film he exercises great restraint. And it is in this control, of not ending the film in violence, lies its greatest power.
The time is ripe for another cinematic revolution in the country, where filmmakers are not shackled by nepotistic and uncreative production houses and corporate houses married only to profits. Hopefully, TGIYB will prove to be the first, in the many to follow.