Between 1998 and 2000 I worked on a film titled When four friends meet which was an intimate portrait of the coming of age of four young men from Jehangirpuri, a working class resettlement area of Delhi. Till we meet again picks up the story of the same four protagonists in 2012. They are now in their 30s, married and have children. The film juxtaposes three sets of images, one set created by the four protagonists through cameras provided to them, the second set filmed by the film maker and the third from material filmed in 1998-99. The film is an attempt to shuttle between these different sets of images in search of those moments and events that open up the theme of masculinities in the context of the everyday of the four protagonists.
Like most films this film too is an attempt to work with aspects of seeing, time and space to create a set of meanings. It is an experiment to work out a link between seeing and the creation of images that are not overburdened with narrative pressures. The protagonists therefore were given cameras but no instructions provided on what narratives they were to construct. They chose to turn into images their everyday. The narratives lie within the frame, in a passing look, the reaction of those on whom the camera is focused and the architecture of the city which they engage with on a daily basis. The images don’t attempt a grand narrative but choose to focus on those seemingly insignificant events that unfold in our lives everyday but remain outside the purview of dominant forms of meaning creation.
The challenge before me, my co-scriptwriter and the editor was to create meaning without taking away the autonomy of the seeing and image making of the protagonists. We were searching in this film for the irrational flight of imagination, sensory responses, impulses and the subjective world of emotions to find a place even while the film worked with the idea of engendering the protagonists.
The film also allowed me to work with the idea that the documentary form is an attempt to align found objects in relation to time. If time is the map of change imprinted onto our minds, if it provides the coordinates for change, for movement and, if it is the thoroughfare through which change traverses, then the documentary is that dynamic moment or a series of moments that maps out the found objects progress in time. The dynamism refers to not only the autonomy of being of the object but that what makes it possible through the presence of the film maker to become a dance in which both participate. The three sets of images become a rhythmic alignment of changing perceptions through the way we see, the way the images are created and how the object reveals itself.
Rahul Roy graduated from the Mass Communication Research Centre at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi in 1987 with a post graduate degree in film making. His films have travelled across the globe to various documentary film festivals and have won several prestigious awards. Rahul Roy’s films explore the themes of masculinity and gender relations against the larger background of communalism, labour, class identities and urban spaces. His work has focused primarily on masculinities. Besides film making he has been researching and writing on masculinities. His graphic book on masculinities titled ‘A Little Book on Men’ was recently published by Yoda Press.
Roy is the Director of Aakar, a Delhi based trust that works in the area of media, culture and research. Aakar has been engaged in several interventions on masculinities across the South Asian region for more than a decade now.
Roy is the co-ordinator of Let’s Talk Men 2.0.