Amrit Gangar explains the concept ‘Cinema of Prayoga’

The concept ‘Cinema of Prayoga’ was invented by film critic Amrit Ganger. ‘Prayoga’ refers to the Indian movies that try to invent a new visual world. In fact, ‘Pra’ means forward, and the Sanskrit word ‘yoga’ indicates ‘to join’, ‘to unite’, or ‘to attach’. As such, the definition refers to the eternal quest, a continuing research process in time and space.

Amrit Gangar is a film historian, writer and curator. During his career, he has met and has collaborated with Danish film directors such as Lars Von Trier and Jørgen Leth, helping them to understand and grasp Indian culture.

Amrit Gangar was first invited to share his new concept of Cinema of Prayoga at Experimenta 2005 in Mumbai, and subsequently to present it at the Tate Modern, programme in London in 2006. Since then he has curated the ‘Cinema of Prayoga’ programmes with practicing filmmakers, and presented them at various venues, including Santiniketan, West Bengal. He had been the curator of film programmes for the Kalaghoda Artfest in its initial period.

For over two decades, he had headed the Mumbai-based film club Screen Unit and was responsible for a number of curated programmes and publication of books. His writings on cinema have been part of several books and anthologies. His latest book ‘Cinema. Culture. Capital. Context: India’ was released during the Kolkata Film Festival in 2010.

The nuances
In order to understand the nuances of ‘Cinema of Prayoga’ definition, it is essential to bear in mind that time and space concepts in India are different from a Western perspective. Many things in nature occur in recurring cycles. Days, tides, seasons, and years are all cyclic in nature. So, the time in India is symbolised by a wheel, that regards it as cyclical and quantic.

In the Western society, time is a line. Time moves in only one direction. For a Westener, the individual and personal actions shape the world and craft the destiny.

Indian mentality is rooted in the concept of living and enjoying the present moment. The eternal repetition – of ages, seasons and human events – highlights the importance of the present moment. The ritual of making tea is just one example among many. In India, everyone is underwired to everyone else. Every singular action affects the community, and everyone feels part of this community.

Amrit Gangar feels part of this community and at the same time he thinks that a stronger cultural exchange,between Western and Indian culture, would be fruitful for both part. In particular, he thinks that Indian philosophy; prayoga’s approach, could be used as a constructive tool to improve the European and American experimental Cinema.

By Riccardi Inanna

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