Signature of an Artist

I saw a few films in this lifetime, and I will see more.

I liked some and and I didn’t some. I never, however, understood, how films are made. Then, along comes a spider. Well, not a spider, but Shaurya, really. But, underestimate not, his web of thought.

He talks of movies with such passion that it is impossible to ignore. I have usually loved movies for what they were. But when he and I get into “discussions” about movies, I see all the films in a different light.

Friends do that to you.

Friends do a lot of things to you. They change the way you look at life. They stand with and behind you when difficult questions come up. They sit in front of you, look into you eyes and speak their heart out.

I live my life with an artist and I am a reluctant artist myself. But, the mind — the mind of an artist is such a complex world — it needs a signature, a triplicate clearance, which includes a retina-scan, to permeate this world. I am the audience who is an artist himself. And, I have endlessly struggled to know if the art and the artist have a relationship that is true and consistent in thought and how art is peceived.

I saw, Before the Rains, e.g. And I thought, that here was an artist, showing off only one art form that he is capable of. Cinematography.

What is good storytelling? Ask the grandmother. She was the best storyteller, ever. And if I ever make films, I will tell stories that she would. She’d rapture you with her oration. You would enter a world that transcended time, geography and space. How did she achieve it? It was not technique, nor presentation.

She had the x that tele-ported us worlds apart. She never gave the details on backgrounds or the social composition of the characters in the story. She didn’t paint a picture with colours, lines and fills. She ignited the fire in imagination that we were willing as grandchildren.

Tate Modern - Wall Art - 4

Back to the artist.

Anant Mane, a director of yore, has recently captured my imagination. He has made quite a few Marathi films, so, if you haven’t seen some of his work, that’s fine. I haven’t seen all of his movies, either. Of the ones I have seen, he seems to use backgrounds to good effect, amazing effect, in fact, given the context of the story.


Is this a deliberate use of backgrounds to define the story or is it default? I am talking of co-incidences here. How far is a co-incidence a co-incidence? My friend Shaurya, says that it is always a deliberate act.

What does an artist’s deliberation mean? How does she define what she does — what is the signature that defines her? Subhash Ghai, for example, uses a very crude signature — he makes a minute appearance in all his films. Significantly so, how do you identify an artist’s “signature” in an artwork, unless he uses it consistently and without variation? Subhash Ghai signatures are so obvious, it is one thing.

Then, the question arises: is your signature obvious? What is the Clint Eastwood directorial signature, for example? If I didn’t tell you about it, would you be able to identify a Clint Eastwood film?

What basis?

I have come to love this almost sneaking quality of an artist. Sneaking in a way that they may never tell you the intent, yet present to you a story that touches your heart. It is a tease.

Make your own meaning, for you shall never know what I really meant.


10 thoughts on “Signature of an Artist

  1. A few of Clint’s signatures involve his closeups being shot at a lower POV angle than others (even more than his height might require)

    Clint prefers the first 1/3 of the frame (reading left to right) in multiple person shots.

    His is usually in an elevated and better lit position in scenes with mulitple actors, usually in front of the plainest portion of the background, or has most sky behind him.

    I’m sure there are others, but since it’s rare for a director to direct themselves, let alone do it so well, that’s usually what I notice.


      • Thanks, it’s a great discussion. I studied Clint’s “autership” style after going over all the Dirty Harry films (all but ‘Sudden Impact’ NOT directed by him) then was curious to see what he picked up from previous directors.

        Of course my film is a parody of Dirty Harry movies, and the short doesn’t get to explore much in detail, but should the feature get made I’ll be employing all my notes.

        Cool blog, keep up the good work.


  2. I can think of Wong Kar Wai as someone with a distinct filmmaker’s signature. The use of intense cramped spaces, cryptic and philosophical dialogue, the heavy feeling of loss and longing that permeate each frame, and his heightened use of light and colour. I can spot a Wong Kar Wai frame anywhere!


  3. Pingback: The Birth of the Reader « Gaizabonts

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