December 18, 2009

Le fabuleux destin de Satyanshu Singh

-->The first foreign-language films that I watched, three years ago, were No Man’s Land and Amelie. The reason, obviously, was to know what was in them that they scored above Lagaan at the 2002 Academy Awards. No Man’s Land left me stunned and I remarked, hypnotized and in a hasty overstatement, that this was possibly the best film of my life. And Amelie was merely a new cinematic experience, interesting rather than impressive. Since then, I have re-watched Amelie whenever I could, and now consider it as possibly the best film of the decade. While the Bosnian war drama was an example of the political statement cinema can make, the sweet little story of this crazy French girl threw open for me the numerous possibilities of aesthetic innovations. Things were never the same any more. Foreign language cinema became the oxygen for my life. Within three years, I was distinguishing between Japanese and Cantonese, and French and Italian by the way they talked. I learnt that the French for ‘yes’ is ‘oui’ and the Italian is ‘si’, and that a Chinese name has monosyllabic parts like Wong Kar Wai while Japanese have longer names : Yasuziro Ozu or Kenji Mizoguchi. Foreign cinema became my window for the cultures of the world and the stories these masters said made cinema the passion of my life. I should avoid the word ‘sorry’ but this is what I feel for those who are blissfully ignorant towards cinema from out of India. They just don’t know what they are missing. There is so much to know and appreciate in this small life of ours. I thank God that I got rid of my prejudice sooner than later and how much more beautiful life has become. Kurosawa’s Japan, Fellini’s Rome and Kieslowski’s Poland look so much familiar to me. And I don’t yet have a passport!

By the way, for all those who love Amelie, here is a short film, Foutaises, by the same director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet. It was made twelve years before the 2001 film and clearly shows Jeunet preparing himself for the fabulous feature-length beauty that shaped my destiny.


  1. I agree...foreign films are a wonderfully, different experience. I'm surprised you left Majidi and Panahi's Iran out of your list.They are a class apart.

  2. Thanks for adding Majidi.
    I'm surprised myself that I missed him.

    Although I haven't yet seen Panahi...
    There is so much more to learn and experience...

  3. I have seen "No Man's Land".
    Ha !
    Ek aur paap dhul gaya !