Cinema has been an inseparable part of modern urban imaginaries. Some were fictional while others documentary. Early cinema had scenes of urban life and melodrama, then came films on gangsters, crime – noir cinema – and now, recent films often imagine dystopic, post-urban settings. Siegfried Kracauer, a German sociologist and film theorist, had given crucial insights into the relationship between the city and cinema and urbanism – claiming in particular that “the street is the quintessential cinematic subject”.
Horror in the Bylanes: A Series of Urban Horror Films being screened in the capital, identifies the city as an ‘alive, vital, shape-shifting beast’ that constantly changes its form. The selected films, not limited to the horror genre, are set in the city and project the perspective of an outsider – a traveller, a visitor, an immigrant.
“We mean horror as a feeling for someone who comes from outside. For example, in Jagte Raho, there is this villager who has come to the city and that is horrifying for him. So we mean horror in the broader genre definition,” says Anuj Malhotra of Lightcube, a film society based in the city.
“The whole series is structured around different experiences of an outsider in a large city. There is fear, there is horror, as well as a sense of losing your identity,” adds Malhotra.
The selection of films rose from the idea of bringing a range of global experiences of the city, so you have films from America, Japan, Europe, and of course, India. Two Indian films made it to their final selection – the 1956 Raj Kapoor starrer Jagte Raho and a more recent Bengali production, Sthaniya Sambaad, that is set in a settlement of refugees on the southern fringes of Calcutta.
From the international circuit, there is Eyes Without a Face, a 1960 French-Italian horror story of a surgeon who conducts experiments on young girls to help restore his daughter’s face that gets disfigured. From the Japanese avant-garde filmmaker Hiroshi Teshigahara is the film called The Face of Another, released in 1966. The film is a disturbing story of a burn victim who develops a dark personality after procuring a mask. Why are they part of the series? Identity is malleable in the city, believes Malhotra, where the outsider makes himself anonymous and invisible to survive; and engineers a masquerade at the cost of his own identity.
To be shown once a week, the films series will continue till September 7. Apart from the films, there will be film discussions and poetry or book readings. The first session will have readings of Kōbō Abe’s work. The Face of Another, based on a novel by Abe.
What: Horror in the Bylanes: A Series of Urban Horror Films
Where: Greenr Cafe, Dada Jungi House, Shahpur Jat
When: 7 pm, till September 7
Entry fee: Rs.350. Call: 9910161947
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/855661107872514/