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OM: Old Man

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Geetha Jayaraman, Dr Ian McDonald



OM:OldMan explores the enclosed world of VU2JN, an elderly Ham from South India, set against the sights and sounds of the 2014 Indian general election campaign. This cinema-verite documentary draws on research from sociology and philosophy to critique cinema verite and to push the boundary of practice towards a more ‘expressivist’ direction that problematizes modernist notions of truth inherent in the concept of ‘verite’. The film itself is informed by the form and aesthetics of ‘cinema verite’, a mode of documentary practice that foregrounds the subject–filmmaker relationship as the foundational basis for its’ ‘truth-claims’. An expressivist cinematography (extreme close-up, oblique framing, creative soundscaping) is used to explore the significance of the aural and the haptic alongside the visual, and a dialectical editing strategy (creative montage) is employed to produce meaning and evoke suggestion through rhythm and repetition. The documentary also draws on CW Mills notion of the ‘sociological imagination’, as biography, science and politics intersect the private and public as also the world within and world beyond as post cards and airwaves go to distant lands, long before the Internet. In a more philosophical vein, OM:OldMan is a filmic experiment that attempts to evoke the Heideggerian notion of Being and Time, in particular the problematic of 'being-in-the-world' in the later stages of life. ‘Verite’ shots of the everyday activities of the male protagonist and his wife are mixed with moments of recollection and remembrance. These are cut with (in)distinct soundscapes: CQs - coded call outs, call signs, high frequencies, interferences, Morse code, hums and crackling voices in the band alongside election sloganeering and political songs. Here, a hint of the drama of the man’s life and the country’s life behind the memories, behind the technology, behind the rhetoric of utopian slogans is evoked. The result is a documentary that extends the sociological and anthropological framing of truth in cinema verite towards the ‘cinematic’ (a space of ambiguity, suggestion, open-endedness). The world premiere of OM:OldMan was screened in international competition at the prestigious Jean Roach International Film Festival in Paris in November 2016, where it was one of 25 films chosen from 750 submissions.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jayaraman G, McDonald I

Publication type: Digital or Visual Media

Publication status: Published

Year: 2016

Extent of Work: 30 mins

Publisher: AkamPuram

Place Published: India

Type: Documentary short



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