Between radio and the web
By: Aijaz gul
Noted film columnist Aijaz Gul has a word on old habits that die hard: “Films began as a small scale industry and a work of magic in France, the United States of American, the UK, Germany and Russia, where it was difficult to convert theatre addicts into movie junkies. France even tried and failed to film theatrical productions and screens them in cinemas. But with the passage of time, movies did manage to create a place for them and, gradually, became a dominating force in entertainment the world over. If anyone thinks that technical changes in film, TV and music have mostly taken place only in the last 30 years or so, he is grossly mistaken.”
Again, Gul quotes the example of cinema. “The medium is now one hundred and seventeen years old (born in 1895), but it has been subject to change from the very beginning. It went from silent and B/W to sound, from Nitrate to Safety raw film stock, Colour and Cinemascope to Widescreen; Mono to Stereo to Digital Surround; 35mm to 70mm and 3D.
“So, going Digital, downloading movies from torrent or watching them on YouTube etc is consistent with any of those changes.”
According to Gul, it is “ironical (and tragic) why Kodak did not keep up with the changes and went bankrupt. If clients gave up on the 35mm film stock, Kodak should have looked for alternatives.
He recalls an American presidential debate where President Obama, talking about his country’s defence spendings, once said: “We have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed [from horses to aircraft carriers]!”
Pakistan film industry, Gul adds, has miles to go before it can catch up with the new-age technology. “It is not just the film studios, but most of the leftover cinemas need to replace their Westrex projection system from the ‘50s and ‘60s with new formats along with new sound system.”
On a personal front, Gul says he considers himself as a person who is somewhere “between old-fashioned and a person who has gone on unwillingly with the changes. I still listen to music on radio which is lying at my bedside table, but on the other hand, I read newspapers online and like to watch old and not-so-old film songs as well as film clippings on YouTube. And, when it comes to showing films to the media students in my Film History/Appreciation classes, DVDs come in handy.
“One must keep the balance. Immodest as it might sound but I think the following French saying applies to me perfectly, “The more you change, the more you remain the same.”