My rendezvous with ‘Walking over Water’ created a fresh gush of energy outpouring inside. Here Joshy unfolds a tale about something which has no story in the conventional sense. He weaves the tapestry in the frame of a fictional game of visual discourse. The vivacity of his film and its internal design of image and sound stimulate a sense of bewilderment. When I watch Joshy Joseph films intimately, I put aside all my yardsticks and prepare myself to oscillate between spectacle and enigma.

As a contemporary art practitioner, I could relate emotionally to the experimental filmmaker who is set against a society that does not truly welcome him. He deliberately tries to lift his art practice to a different platform, refusing to follow the pattern-matching path and risk his creative churning above artifice. He cultivates a unique creative language which runs out to impress his kinsmen as well as the non-responsive mass. His primary struggle is to fight off for a comprehensive footing in his surroundings. Though, the real struggle begins when he faces off himself and his own creation.

All his films are rooted in native soil, drenched in artlessness. ‘Walking over Water’ includes me into its realm and negotiates to delve into a meticulous seeking of the purest form of cinema. I get convinced to join the quest, though voyaging through this torrent amidst this lockdown situation was not easy initially and I was completely baffled in the midway. I took a short break, gathered myself and settled on watching afresh. Joshy masterfully encoded his contemporary world view into his latest. The film demanded a sincere attention and I submitted. Then the film unbosoms its kernels of personal and psychological core.

Virtually from the beginning Joshy focused his handheld camera on me and to the recycle bin of the trials and tribulations of life to restore notable moments, then we toasted in a twisted bar and a strong fluid initiate a run through my veins. The soft-focus Pope’s concern about the homeless, wound and droplets on the windowpane, tears rolling down the windscreen, Mahasweta Devi wiping rivulets from the cheeks of the land losers set the journey deeper. A grave isolation of the wife, wonderfully portrayed by Anumol, silently negotiating a stressed wedlock, tormented and perplexed Ozu is seeking a profound existence being provoked by his creative father, and Joshy’s spectral presence altogether embodied me in the journey. Both in painting and cinema, we view the world, inner or outer, through a rectangular image, be it a self-reflection or a worldview. The included portion is not obvious; moreover the excluded part vigorously thrashes the rectangular chassis, the interplay manifests the required tension within the physical body. Here neither Joshy mended the glitches nor choreographed the sequences; rather ingeniously dissolves the worn frame. Ozu dribbled along the asleep footpath to reach the floodlit floating field having two goal posts Rabindra Setu and Vidyasagar Setu facing each other, in between two youngsters kept the ball rolling. The empty spools revolving, film scrolls flying in the space, a black frame hanging tilted on the blank, real images mutating to abstract and inflaming indulgence. An arras whether cinema is a sin loomed over the reality. Monotony has woven all around showing the self-perpetuating conditioning by the global authoritarian system. A resonance that we’re living an Orwellian nightmare now filled my awareness and I foresee my intelligence turning into something strange. An emotional vortex blended in with visceral sensation whirled up within, I splashed it on canvas. The first painting was born.

Joshy has an intrinsic sense of creative mischief; his subtle power to uncover the unguarded psyche at the heart of events and penetrate the depth with unblinking gaze followed by the eerie quiet singulars his films. The sweetness of a Joshy film is that it will not leave one perplexed, but will hold his hand and include in the expedition. Spontaneity is time-sensitive. With repeated viewing of the film understanding gets firm, the initial fragrance tends to fade away. Still, I was tempted to fondle my canvas, but the external situation kept me waiting as I was short of my painting materials. Eventually, with the interplay of intellectual mode and controlled emotion I scheme an idea for my second painting and gradually progressed to access that projection. I lean on the metaphors of the film to stretch my perception. The fluidity between verbal and visual metaphors churns up the internal substance of the film into a new synthesis and Joshy is keen to cast it in an experimental matrix to create another self and impression, outstripping the perennial image making. There is a brooding quality in ‘Walking over Water’, distilling a serene depth. But the logical decoding of the radical inferences hardly uplifted my imagination. To my feeling, the second canvas bears a restraint and poised image.

Cinema by nature is multi-disciplinary; but a ‘cinema’ is born only when the streams of other art forms merge, dissolve and reincarnate as a discrete art form. Words can recreate the memory of the birth of ‘cinema’ elaborating different stages of fertilization. Painting can attempt to reinvent the aesthetic potentials of ‘cinema’ through lines, tones, textures, colours, forms and space. When I venture to capture in words that emotions, consciousness and sensations which surfaced while painting, the moment I try to catch hold of it, it slips and changes form. The painting reveals the non-verbal segments of my existence; WOW’s impact on me is too personal. The spins, twists and turns elevate me to some other realm and flee in the wink of an eye, my words are inadequate to apprehend those empathy. Let the mystery prevail. Let’s keep it open to interpretation than caging it to something definite. Painting provides the power to synthesize the emotional content of cinema; the image is an expression in itself, traversing encoded vocabulary.

Caesar Das is a Visual Artist and Filmmaker, made films for Films Division, making a series of documentaries on painters, already made on Jogen Chowdhury, Paritosh Sen, Wasim Kapoor, Atin Basak


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