Mapping Post-Cinematic Affects in A Wednesday (2008)

Media theorist Marshall McLuhan had observed that every new medium “shifts the ratio among all the senses” (1964, p13) leading to a change in the nature of experiences. McLuhan’s reference point was the growing impact of television at that time. However, the same logic helps us to approach and understand the 21st century Post-Cinema multimedia regime. This is the age dominated by globalized communication networks, computation technologies, mobile phones, internet, digital international financial, trade and commercial networks. What is the impact of this globally connected digital world on the aesthetics of cinema?

In Post-Cinematic Affect Steven Shaviro (2016) explains a shift in the structures of feelings generated by the neoliberal technological and financial networks which define the post-cinematic visual medium. He argues that “Just as the old Hollywood continuity editing system was an integral part of the Fordist mode of production, so the editing methods and formal devices of digital video and film belong directly to the computing-and-information technology infrastructure of contemporary neoliberal finance”(Shaviro,2016,p131).

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Neeraj Pandey directed Hindi feature film A Wednesday (2008) can be said to have been made only in this age of neo-liberal communication infrastructure and global terrorism. A Wednesday revolves around an unnamed common man played by Naseeruddin Shah who is so frustrated with recurring terror attacks in Mumbai that he takes upon himself to kill terrorists. The story as narrated by a voice-over, takes place between 2 pm to 6 pm on a Wednesday afternoon where he calls up the Mumbai Police Commissioner to inform that he has placed bombs at various locations which may explode if he doesn’t release four terrorists. He has set up his own control room at the roof-top of an under construction building. He uses multiple mobile phones, sim cards, laptop, speaker and other gadgets. He doesn’t belong to any terrorist group but programmes a bomb himself. Where does that knowledge come from? Internet is the obvious answer.

The visual aesthetic of A Wednesday doesn’t overturn the cohesive flow of images but it does combine the multiscreen culture of a tele-series like 24 and generates the urgency of news casting during a terror attack. Digital composition of the film allowed for “assembling together a number of elements to create a singular seamless object.”(Manovich, 2016, p139).Surveillance, phone tapping, hacking and tracking are common words in the world that we live in and this film significantly remediates them with ease. Terrorism, counter-terrorism and reactionary violence are the concerns of A Wednesday and it showcases a participatory regime of post-cinematic media ecology which affects one to reorder sensory experiences.

By Swati Bakshi

References

McLuhan, M. (1964). The medium is the message. Available from http://web.mit.edu/allanmc/www/mcluhan.mediummessage.pdf  [Accessed 26 February 2017].

Manovich, L. (2016).What is Digital Cinema. In: Denson,S. and Leyda, J. (eds.) Post Cinema: Theorizing 21st-Century Film. REFRAME books, 20-50. Available from http://reframe.sussex.ac.uk/post-cinema/ [Accessed 03 February 2017].

Shaviro S. (2016). Post-Cinematic Affect. In: Shane D. and Julia Leyda (eds), Post-Cinema: Theorizing 21st-Century Film. Falmer: REFRAME Books,129-144.

Krrish, A. (2016). YouTube. Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxrrURM7c4M [Accessed 25 February 2017].

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