Wednesday, February 02, 2011

A sneak preview: The Popcorn Essayists

What happens when you gather a line-up of established authors who don't write professionally about cinema and ask them for personal essays about a cherished film or film-related experience?

This happens:

[Click to enlarge]

The anthology will be out in a month or so, but here's a quick summary of what the pieces are about:

- How do you "read" a film, how do actors recapture the immediacy of their feelings when they dub for a scene months after the original shoot ...and other questions that movie buffs ask themselves ("Jellyfish" - Manjula Padmanabhan)

- A tongue-in-cheek analysis of a cult Punjabi film as a Bible for foot-fetishists ("The Foot-Worshipper's Guide to Watching Maula Jatt" - Musharraf Ali Farooqi)

- On dreamlike vistas, from Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill Jr to a surreal chase scene featuring Kader Khan and Vinod Mehra ("Perchance to Dream" -
Rajorshi Chakraborti)

- How the Bihari actor Manoj Bajpai passed himself off as a native in an archetypal Mumbai movie ("Writing my own Satya" - Amitava Kumar)

- From watching Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire to reading Michael Cunningham’s ‘White Angel’ - how does the language of film differ from the language of prose? ("Two Languages in Conversation" - Kamila Shamsie)

- On the tumultuous romance between a man and his car in Ritwik Ghatak's Ajantrik ("Gaadi Bula Rahi Hai" - Sumana Roy)

- Why a middle-aged male author performed a Helen dance in drag after a public reading in Brooklyn (Manil Suri's "My Life as a Cabaret Dancer", which you can read here)

- Secret agents, suave detectives, fake ghosts ... on Hindi film noir and thrillers from the 1950s and 60s ("Villains and Vamps and All Things Camp" - Madhulika Liddle)

- What the silences in the Kaurismaki brothers' movies reveal about Finland and its people, and why an Indian writer should be so interested ("Going Kaurismaki" - Anjum Hasan)

- When you're starved for moviegoing experience, a Charlie Sheen thriller can be "the greatest movie ever made by man" ("Terminal Case" - Sidin Vadukut)

- On why being scared is a good thing ("Monsters I Have Known", by yours truly)

- A novelist recalls her time publishing a gossip-driven film magazine in the 1970s, steeped in "a Film Lok parallel to Indra Lok" ("Super Days" - Namita Gokhale)

- A writer who worked for the British Board of Film Classification on the occasional need for - and her ambivalence about - censorship ("The Final Cut" - Jaishree Misra)

And here's the video of the Popcorn Essays session at the Jaipur lit-fest, where four of these writers read from their pieces.

Updates to follow as the release date draws near.


  1. Really looking forward!

    Will it have 'subtextual analysis'?


  3. Diptakirti: of course - as you know very well, I insist on it. Just wait till you read Rajorshi on the surreal undertones of the "Pre-Credit Backstory-Compression" that was often to be found in Hindi movies of the 1980s!

  4. what is the price and who is publishing it?

  5. Amit: Tranquebar - you can see it on the cover. The price written there is Rs 350, but not sure if that's been finalised.

  6. Great to see more books on cinema. :)

  7. "Pre-Credit Backstory-Compression" - this is luscious!
    BTW, have already bought the book!

  8. The price is 312, as it says on Flipkart.

    Looking forward to the book :)

    ---Neha Malude

  9. How about a kindle version?

  10. Any chance of a Kindle version?