Cerebral vs Popular

Ambika Shaligram
Wednesday, 4 October 2017

An hour-long chat with Dr Mohan Agashe is stimulating as he talks about the grammar of cinema, how the subject needs to be included in school and college syllabus to create a discerning audience, and how important it is to understand ‘subtext and context’ in books

Dr Mohan Agashe explains how the National Award-winning film Kaasav is an ‘entertaining film with a purpose’

An hour-long chat with Dr Mohan Agashe is stimulating as he talks about the grammar of cinema, how the subject needs to be included in school and college syllabus to create a discerning audience, and how important it is to understand ‘subtext and context’ in books.

We caught up with the actor-producer of the National Award-winning film Kaasav, which releases on Friday, October 6, to know more about it. “It is a film which offers entertainment with a purpose,” says Agashe and goes on to add that he has always had an inclination for cerebral art and hence his association with GRIPS theatre, Theatre Academy and films like Astu. “Popular entertainment is about pure entertainment, which means to me, ‘pure purgative’ for emotions. I would rather opt for films that have something to say and appeal to my cognitive apparatus,” he says.

Kaasav does exactly that. “Cinema is a source of passive information and sometimes it might not present information accurately. But I think information credibility is a must. This is not to say that we have to bring a ‘research paper’, but the film should be presented in such a way that the curiosity and interest of the audience is piqued. The viewer should get interested enough to find out more about the subject,” he explains.

Directed by Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar, the Marathi film deals with depression amongst youth. Alok Rajwade plays Maanvendra/ Manav, who is in the grip of deep, dark thoughts. He is both depressed and repressed and his ‘coming out of the shell’ is the metaphorical title of the film. One aspect of the film also deals with the research of olive ridley turtles.

A subject like this isn’t ‘verbose’ to spoon-feed the audience, hence the veteran theatre and film actor says that our education —  print and audio-visual — has to be spontaneous, and should come from the heart and help the kids understand subtext and context of what they are reading or watching.

“If you have read textbooks all your life, then you won’t understand the subtext. At present, people talk a lot; they think they achieve a lot just by talking. At the same time, they don’t speak from the heart. They take into consideration too many pros and cons of what they say. Spontaneity has disappeared. The life of a thought lasts longer than emotion. But action lasts longer than emotion. Most of the things get arrested at thinking level and don’t get translated into action,” says the Ghashiram Kotwal fame actor.  

Agashe, who has acted in films like Gangaajal, Jait Re Jait, Vaalu, Jolly LLB, says, “To understand what you are ‘reading’, you attend school or college. Something similar also happens with cinema. Some people are born with an aesthetic sense, others need to be taught. So if you are watching good/ bad cinema, you are educating yourself.”  

As a course correction, Agashe wants to reach out to more people through small, private screenings of the movie. “I want to get school and college principals to watch Kaasav. That will perhaps give them an idea of what their students are suffering and how difficult it is to get out of the mire of dark thoughts pervading their minds,” he informs.

Films like Kaasav exercise your cognitive apparatus, allowing you to distinguish between ‘junk food and healthy food. Or popular cinema from films with purpose, points out the actor.

“Till Dr Sigmund Freud wrote about cognitive skills and mindspace, no one realised their importance. It’s the mindspace or subconscious thoughts that drives your creativity. Art comes from subconscious. And, conscious thoughts give it structure. Reading is done consciously and that’s why it’s more thought-provoking. We watch cinema without exercising our minds, cognitive skills. This should change. And, with Kaasav we are doing that,” he says before signing off.

 

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