Kurosawa’s assistant laments decline of Japanese cinema

Mumbai, Oct 25 (Calcutta Tube) The highlight of the Mumbai Film Festival this year has been the amazing retrospective of Japanese cinema. And giving thumbs up to the same was none other than Takashi Koizumi, Akira Kurosawa’s assistant director for 20 years before the master’s death.

‘This showcase should be done in Japan so that Japanese people can see it too,’ Koizumi said at a seminar on Japanese cinema here.

Writer, filmmaker and historian Arun Khopkar eulogizing the old Japanese masters, said: ‘These are not just great artists, but they represent a religion at a time in which god is dead. Their films teach you not only to live, but to love. These films start demanding more and more of you and bring out the best in you as a person. This constant dialogue between screen and audience is what is so great about the package of Japanese cinema. It helps us discover ourselves and the universe around us.’

Obviously the Japanese masters discussed the most in the seminar were the usual gods of Japanese Cinema – Yasujiro Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi and Akira Kurosawa among others.

Suresh Chabria briefly outlined the plurality of Japanese cinema. ‘We now no longer talk of Indian cinema, but so many Indian cinemas. The same is the case with Japanese cinema.’

It was moderator Aruna Vasudev who first commented on both Khopkar and Chabria’s love for Japanese classics. ‘What is happening today in Japanese cinema might contradict what you love about the past of cinema.’

It was here that Koizumi’s said, ‘Contemporary cinema, I am sorry to say is not in a good state because of the collapse of the studio system. Today Japanese cinema is not focused on how beautiful it is, but how fun it is. Beautiful cinema tries to maintain harmony, but fun cinema destroys harmony. I am alarmed by Japanese cinema right now.’

Koizumi said it was one of his missions to keep watching films of the master and try to show these to younger filmmakers.

Talking about his guru and mentor Akira Kurosawa, he said, ‘Kurosawa made films not just for his generation, but he often told me to think about 3 or 4 generations in the future. And that is what a filmmaker should think about.’

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