Psychoanalysing Films With Vinit Masram - The Founder Of Cinema Beyond Entertainment
Posted on 29 January, 2017 by Team Wishberry
A couple of weeks ago I spotted this insanely brilliant video that psychoanalysed Dil Chahta Hai, and damn, it wasn’t just spot-on it was eye-opening. Not only did the video explain how the film’s camera angles had us glued to the trio's conversations, but also revealed the Freudian backbone of the film.
After a few clicks, I found Vinit Masram’s (a Film Design and Animation grad from IIT Bombay) Youtube channel that is loaded with many such interesting clips that analyse some of the most interesting films we’ve all loved.
Cinema Beyond Entertainment is a video essay series that takes a closer look at cinema around the globe. It talks about the technical and theoretical aspects of cinema, filming aesthetics, touches base with the different camera angles, filmmaking terminology, and more.
I got in touch with Vinit and we had an interesting conversation about his video building process, films that inspire him and the big dream.
There is no doubt that you truly love cinema. It’s visible in the efforts you take to make such an insightful YouTube Channel.
Which was the first film that made you empathise with a character that had numerous flaws?
Vinit: If I have to name one film then it has to be Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator (2004). I was 16 when it came out, and till then I was consumed with Bollywood films where the heroes would save the day or get the girl at the end, no matter what. Even in Hollywood movies, my primary viewing genres were sci-fi, action or adventure, but The Aviator fell in a completely different bracket.
It wasn’t an action film although it was about airplanes; it wasn’t a psychological thriller although psychological dysfunction played a major role in the film. There was a mysterious intrigue in the way the events unfolded with a breath-taking pace. And at the heart of it was the character Howard Hughes, brilliantly played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Here’s a character that is flirting with the extremes of human personality - an obsessive, ambitious, no-nonsense businessman and a womanizer who believes in getting what he wants, a kind of a person who is constantly asking for trouble.
But despite his numerous flaws, his obsession somehow resonated with me to the point I started to root and feel concerned for him till the very end. I didn’t know why…but eventually, I started to understand it as I watched the film over and over again.
The Aviator changed the way I saw films. I became aware of ‘the Director’ and their role with the authorial intent in films i.e. the structural side of storytelling. I started to discover different kinds of cinema, got myself introduced to European cinema – which in my opinion is head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to visual storytelling – and that entertainment can come from unusual subjects as well.
Your videos have a mix of shots from various Indian and International films. The process must be tedious. How do you go about making each video?
Vinit: Mixing various Indian and international films is done consciously so that people get introduced to new films with similar subject matter and themes. One of the many reasons I created this channel is to introduce people to movies and subjects they generally won’t explore.
As per the process of making each video, it is more or less the same for each one.
Once I narrow down on a film to analyse or a topic I want to discuss, the first step is list down my points regarding the topic/film. Then comes the research part where I study and tally my own ideas and thoughts with academic writings. The best part of the research is spent to sort out the intertextuality in each topic, which is quite a big part of my videos. Then, writing, a bane of my existence to be honest, in all honesty I’m not really great with words.
Once the writing is done, I make a scratch recording to start editing the video. This is the time when the video begins to take shape, here I might add or even remove material based on how the video shapes up. Once I am happy with the edit, a final voice recording is done and added to the video to get it ready for upload. The entire process takes around 2 weeks for each video. However, I am trying to improve that.
What sort of obstacles did you have to overcome while working on this?
Vinit: My biggest challenge has to be tackling rejection. If you notice the upload dates of my first two videos, you’ll see the gap is 10 months long. The only reason for the delay was my fear that nobody would watch it or be interested in what I had to say. It took a lot of time to get over that fear and after numerous iterations in the writing; I eventually started to produce the videos. Now I am not saying that people have accepted the channel with overwhelming numbers, but I’ve overcome that fear.
Do you have a team or do you do all of this alone?
Vinit: It’s all a one-man show. I do take help from my professor and friends. Mostly for proofreading the script, but apart from that, it’s all me.
Being a movie buff myself, I’ve watched Dil Chahta Hai endlessly. And, watching your analysis of the film blew me away.
Are there any other films out there that use the Freudian theory of Personality?
Vinit: A lot of them. Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971), Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), Fincher’s Fight Club (1999) – to name a few – are filled with similar ideas. This generally lies in the subtext of the film that elevates the narrative to a point where it gains a kind of palpability that can transcend the boundaries of human consciousness. Isn’t that why some films, or ideas seems to be stuck in the head forever?
With the passion and knowledge that you possess on filmmaking and content generation, do you plan to make a film yourself some day? If yes, what genre would you first explore?
Vinit: That’s the ultimate goal, to direct my own film. But it’s not going to be easy, considering how volatile the business is and how resistant the executives are towards risky and innovative ideas. But all I can do is try.
Besides, I don’t think I am in any position to say I possess immense knowledge of filmmaking, and I am saying this without any sense of false modesty. Every single film I watch, good or bad, it teaches me a lesson. I feel I still have a long way to go in understanding cinema.
As per exploring a genre is concerned, I am not a big fan of genres. Because for me with genres, come restrictions in storytelling and narrative structure that are specific for each genre. And once you understand the genre, it is harder to be surprised by a movie within it. The same goes for a movie that revolves around big plots and twists within those plots. I have always been in love with movies, which don’t have a plot or follow a traditional narrative. I constantly have been drawn to films that I revisit not for their plot, but for the character and the mood and the different approach of storytelling the film flows with.
For example, The Matrix – which is a brilliant film – when Neo first stops the bullets, we realise he’s ‘the one’ and you’re elevated in your seat watching this scene, but when your re-watch the film, this moment isn’t as interesting anymore, at least for me. But what never fails to amaze me is the scene from Taxi Driver, when Travis adjusts his rear-view mirror to see the face of the murderous cuckolded husband sitting in the back seat.
I am not saying that this is a universal truth, but it is something that I personally prefer.
Cinema Beyond Entertainment is a blessing for all film buffs who enjoy learning about the psychology behind art. Also, it makes one wonder what Vinit’s film would be like. In the meantime, you can check out his latest video analysing the epic Gangs of Wasseypur.