Lost In Translation

So the first month in the organization went while sitting in front of a computer screen making presentations and weekly reports. Every day I wake up at seven, have the pg breakfast, ride an e-rickshaw to office and sit in front of my new best friend i.e is my HP computer (whose battery falls as soon as I lift it) for the next nine hours. In the evening when I reach my pg, the first thing I do is dab my eyes with a lot of cold water. After that I talk to my mom for a while and fall asleep after having dinner. This is the routine that I follow monotonously everyday. In the first few days, I terribly missed  my green fields and orchards back home. I missed the sound of rustling leaves early in the dawn when a single koel croons perched on the tallest tree. Early in the morning, there is always this smell of the leaves and flowers that hits you, I miss that too. When all the nostalgia got unbearable I packed my backpack and went to the Dhauladhar mountains for a trek. I came back as an invigorated person and after that it became easy for me to adjust to the new routine. I decided to utilize all the weekends. So the last weekend was spend attending the 1st BRICS film festival in Siri Fort Auditorium, Delhi.


So as we all know BRICS countries have been proactive at the international arena from the last few years and their partnership is instrumental in shifting the monopoly that US and Europe employs when it comes to the global affairs. So the BRICS countries have been aggressively pushing their agenda of multilateral cooperation among various areas among which culture has been a crucial issue. In 2015 the culture ministers of all the five BRICS signed an agreement to “develop and promote cooperation and exchanges in the field of culture, including the art of music and dancing, choreography, theater, circus” and in other creative activities. So India hosted the inaugural film festival from 2nd -6 September 2016 in which films  of various BRICS filmmakers were exhibited.

I attended the film festival on the 2nd day which incidentally was  Saturday so naturally the place was jam packed. Nearly every auditorium was full and even people were sitting on the floor in a few. Finally I found an auditorium where a film panchayat was going to be organized was intrigued by the idea of the film panchayat because honestly I have  never seen a village panchayat and neither my work would give me any opportunity to do the same, so I decided to go to Audi 4. The topic of the discussion was cinema and nation building. As soon as I entered the room, the five panchs of the BRICS countries were seated and a lady moderator had started to introduce them.


The discussion was started by the Brazilian director who spoke Spanish in such a fierce manner that all of the people started looking at the young interpreter standing behind him. When the Indian interpreter started to speak, I realized he could speak Spanish better that English.The translation that the young chap offered didn’t satisfy the Brazilian director and both of them started jabbering in Spanish again.The audience became restless and finally the Russian filmmaker came to our rescue. The Russian director has a round pink face and looked like Uncle Vernon from Harry Potter without the moustache. He translated everything perfectly and finally we understood that the Brazilian meant that films are a bridge and BRICS  is an important platform to build bridges in people. This was the lost in translation moment for me.

As the moderator started to ask a question to the chinese filmaker, the overexcited Brazilian director got up and jumped from the platform chanting Fora Temere! Governa Galpista NAO! He even displayed a banner with the same word and after a few minutes settled peacefully in his seat. Honestly I was shocked for a couple of minutes and the moderator explained about the current political crisis in Brazil and how an illegitimate government had come to power. So anyways, when the Chinese began to answer I was mentally prepared for another lost in translation moment but Viola!, he spoke everything in fluent English (call it Jack Ma effect ). So basically he explained how cinema became privatized in 2002 and it has become a booming industry now. Ironically he was a member of the Chinese censor board and when asked about the censorship in Chinese movies,he carefully dodged the question and began talking about how businessmen were ready to fund movies these days.

When the Russian filmmaker was asked about what nationalism means in Russian cinema ,he went off in a completely different direction and lamented how a Russian documentary “I am Cuba” was not well  received in Russia but was a massive hit when an American director released it in Hollywood.He talked about communism (of course) and propaganda and naturally history for the next few minutes. He also mentioned Bajirao Mastani (I was secretly pleased at this moment) when he was reiterating that history shouldn’t be fictionalized. The South African director talked about crime against women in his country and how little impact films have in today’s world. He was promptly countered by the Indian filmmaker who gave an example of a rural village in Karnataka (his home state) that kept the liquor lobby out due to the impact of a single film only. Among the five people he was the only one who talked about nationalism and how cinema affects it.

So if I reflect on the whole experience I observed  a few things:

  1. Language is definitely a barrier: Many crucial things are lost while communication due to different languages and dialects. This made me wonder should there have been a single language in this country?
  2. In our country people fight and kill on a daily basis in the name if nationalism whereas other countries don’t even take cognizance of this term.
  3. Due to the diverse nature of our country it becomes difficult to put our views from a single lens and it often leads to conflicts and disagreements.

On the whole the term nationalism is almost absent in other countries or in other words it takes different forms in different countries. The Chinese say its communism whereas the Russians translates it to the fight against American propaganda. So why are we fighting among ourselves for the sake of nationalism?

Why everyday people are questioned about their allegiance to the nation by recitation of a single line or verse. It seems absurd to me and the quote of Albert Einstein echoes in my mind “Nationalism is an infantile thing. It is the measles of the mankind.”


2 thoughts on “Lost In Translation

  1. It is interesting to see how you express discontent at being in a city set-up as well as how it is the same city set-up that is helping you explore and hence learn and grow. Interesting isnt it? :-). I am a bit confused though, are you happy or are you upset. Cause in life we cannot get both … do think about it and will look forward to discuss this with you when we talk/meet next!


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