By Bhagyashree Purnaik

Edited by, Anandita Malhotra, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist

The most ubiquitous form of entertainment for an average Indian is cinema. The way it impacts people’s lives is intricately interlinked to many factors. The long standing comparison between Bollywood and Hollywood is a topic of great discussion. But what really define the industry are some inspirational, phenomenal and unique movies that come once in a while, that will mesmerize you and leave you speechless. Off late Bollywood has failed to produce such a masterpiece. Whereas I think its counterpart is on the way to produce one: Christopher Nolan’s upcoming sci-fi thriller ‘Interstellar’.

What creates such deep rooted buzz about a movie? The star studded cast? The Indian cinemas with their traditional Khans and Kapoors do provide excitement initially, but fail to create something unprecedented. Probably the lack of a different kind of script is what makes Bollywood fall back. Or probably it is the amount of effort put on the whole or the technology behind scenes. Proper science fiction movies have never been attempted in India. Of course it is not an easy job. Anything that seems to be too advanced or unimaginable is bound to be side kicked by the intellectual community as an academic disaster and carrier of misinformation and delusion. There have been quite a number of such movies made that have received wide spread negative criticism.

Against these odds creating something unrealistic and making it look truly possible is an art mastered by Nolan. Be it ‘Prestige’, the ‘Batman’ series or the extremely bold ‘Inception’, Nolan has always delivered a stroke of genius. Armed with his co-masterminds- his brother Jonathan Nolan who wrote the script for Interstellar, Hans Zimmer who composes beautiful music and renowned theoretical physicist Kip Thorne who is the scientific consultant and also executive producer, he directs a story depicting space travel through a wormhole in search for a substitute planet for Earth.

The idea is pretty straight forward. Humans need to search for another planet where life could thrive and so they have to go in search to different stars and galaxies, and soon. Obviously with whatever highest speed man can attain, it will take decades to even travel to other stars. So how do we accomplish it? This is where Thorne comes in; the answers are wormhole and black hole. In a layman’s language, wormhole is a hypothetical tear in the universe that joins two different points in space and time. This being the fundamental idea behind the movie, the big question was how to simulate it on screen?

The journey taken by the team was exceptional. Thorne actually formulated mathematical equations for the wormhole and other physical phenomenon which were nothing short of an academic research paper and the visual effects team led by Paul Franklin wrote new rendering software which finally gave the image and behaviour of a wormhole. In the creation of the black hole, it was the visual effects result, that when finally came up, depicted how a black hole would appear, solely based on the math of Thorne while Thorne himself hadn’t anticipated how it would ‘look’. Thorne believes that the observed data is a scientific discovery and that he could get at least two articles published out of it. So what we will finally watch on the screen will be a true simulation of a physical phenomenon (that does exist out in space), that has been most closely, precisely, accurately and mathematically formulated! Wow!

It has obviously been very hard work. One could wonder why go to these lengths to depict something? A decent set of bright coloured images adopted from the existing imagination of man would probably do. Anyways who knows what they actually look like? Nobody has been out there yet. But it is this honest spirit that matters. Just a mind-boggling cool idea and a star studded cast with pretty ladies and handsome men would be enough to spike interest. But to truly justify it, this is what is needed. Also, the spirit of endurance and transcending hurdles to achieve great feat for the greater good that is described in Interstellar and some of the past Nolan’s movies sends out a positive energy to the mankind. It makes us believe that there is still good out there in the ugly bad world. It inspires us to believe in the impossible and strive towards it. The screenplay and the dialogues are intelligent, subtle and humorous at times and they never fail to make an impression.

Interstellar is expected to be an amazing package, marked for arrival on 7th November and it will be a treat for the eyes. This is definitely poised to receive great accolades. Perhaps this should act as an impetus for Bollywood to diverge from the conventional movie-making to some hard-core cinema. It is time we achieve a paradigm shift in the Bollywood cinema culture to make movies that are crowd-pulling and exciting and yet, at the same time, send out some positive message to the masses rather than the age old family dramas. With the rich traditional values and Indian culture, we can accomplish better masterpieces that will serve a higher purpose than just entertainment. Entertainment is, of course, the central idea of the movie industry, but it is its responsibility to showcase the right kind of morals and implications once in a while. Because we believe that the nation’s mind-set relies on it.

Posted by The Indian Economist | For the Curious Mind