Formalist Analysis of Pushpendra Singh’s Lajwanti: The Sensory-Motor and the Symbolic

Using the format of the folk tale, Pushpendra Singh’s Lajwanti explores a praxis of cinema that is primarily philosophical in nature. The everyday of the Thar landscape is contrasted by the curved, swirl-like nature of the encounter that produces the event. Ritual and sacrifice serves as the everydayness of this event as represented by the rope-pulley-water assemblage. The event is such that it has its horizon, the sky, that represents the uncoveredness (althiea, pratyabhijnana) of its own ektasis (ananda). Singh constructs a cinema in which the sensory-motor variables are able to create a cinema that is “aesthetic,yogic and symbolic” (Mandakini Trivedi)

 

Space in Lajwanti is represented as an icon for a note in Hindustani classical music that has a curved structure as it moves to the next note. In this way, characters enter and exit the frame , only to re-enter the frame outlining the form of a curve. As opposed to Gilles Deleuze’s concept of decadrage or deframing i.e. opening the frame to the whole of duration, Singh constructs a frame within a frame to capture the iconicity of time, such that it captures a withdrawal of movement. As opposed to representation (Vorstellung), Singh constructs his wide shots with camera movements so that they form a diagrammatic. This diagrammatic helps that spectator form a map so that they become thinking subjects (Cartesian cogitos) outside the domain of intentionality.

 

The sensory-motor connect, as pointed out above, is represented by the rope-pulley-water assemblage whereas the dove is symbolic of the Deleuzean line of flight of this assemblage. The female gaze is structured as a reverse shot i.e. presence as absence, so that the materiality of the assemblage represents its own expansion upto infinity. This expansion as volume is unbalanced so that it can rebalance and create a metaphysical cinema. As in the films of Marguerite Duras, Lajwanti engages an excavation of the image so that the actor through limited movement of the eyes and the mouth capture a psychic state that dissolves the diagrammatic i.e. the landscape.

 

The representation of modernity is through the wind turbine, thus emphasizing modernity as sensory matter i.e. wind (vaayu) which collapses on itself denoting the sensorial collapse (pratyahara). The sensorial collapse is not represented in Hollywood’s denotational regime but along the lines of the Lacanian symbolic regime, in the same way that the iconicity of time is replaced by the indexical in the shot of footsteps proliferating on the sand. The pre-empted and delayed editing( chhanda) finds its realization in music, mainly in the afternoon raga Vrindavani Sarang, just as the shot of the knotting hair symbolizes the knot of consciousness that the film is able to unveil.

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