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Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock

All films Hitchcockian

An 11-day workshop on Alfred Hitchcock's work, and the influence of the master of suspense on film-makers across continents and generations, starts Saturday

“I have a perfect cure for a sore throat: cut it." Alfred Hitchcock had a sure-shot remedy for curing dullness in cinema. The master of suspense was unabashed in his brand of cinema, which promised a bone-chilling, hair-raising, transfixed-in-your-chair experience for the viewer. Watch Rear Window and you’ll be scared to look out of one; watch The Birds and you’ll lose your nerve every time you see one flying towards you.

His brand of film-making and its influence on generations of movie-makers is the subject of a film appreciation course, “Hitchcock and His Influences", to be held from 11-22 January at the India Habitat Centre (IHC), New Delhi. The course will be conducted by Richard Allen, professor and chair of cinema studies, New York University, US, and author of Hitchcock’s Romantic Irony.

Allen, who co-authored the book Islamicate Cultures of Bombay Cinema with Jawaharlal Nehru University professor Ira Bhaskar, has so far conducted three workshops at the IHC, the last one in 2012. “Richard Allen’s workshop has got an overwhelming response and it comes back on popular demand. We have queries about it round the year," says Vidyun Singh, director, programmes, Habitat World, IHC, the organizers of the course.

When asked about Hitchcock’s influence on Bollywood films, Allen says this was the subject of his 2008 workshop, his second in Delhi; his third workshop, “Film Appreciation: An Introduction to Narrative Film", in 2012 dwelt on “film aesthetics and critical analysis". “The kind of unreliable narration and mixture of sex and style that characterizes Abbas-Mustan’s films is deeply influenced by Hitchcock (and Hitchcock via American film). Robby Grewal’s Samay is obviously a tribute to Hitchcock. There was a fairly recent and not very good Hitchcock Rebecca remake Anamika. More indirectly and loosely the modern Indian thriller, the turn to suspense, is inevitably indebted to the idiom perfected by Hitchcock," explains Allen.

“This workshop seeks to understand and explain the peculiar fact that Hitchcock’s work far surpasses that of other directors in its influence and importance, even though many directors in the history of cinema might be said to equal or surpass him in talent and achievement," Allen said in an email interview.

The 11-day workshop, spanning about 3 hours on weekdays and 9 hours on weekends, will deliberate on Hitchcock’s influence on film-makers, like those of the French New Wave and European Art Cinema; on directors like Brian De Palma, Pedro Almodóvar, David Lynch, David Fincher, Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino; and on American popular, horror and postmodern cinema.

The focus will be on film form and style. Each day will have a different theme, and the classes will include screenings, film theory and discussions. The classes are for all, but Allen thinks “general film-wallahs and people who go to the Habitat Film Society, aspiring film students, people who might for example want to study in the US, and people who are in, and working on, the fringes of the film business" would benefit from it.

You need to attend all the classes, and be 18 or above—it promises to be a riveting journey with Allen.

“Hitchcock and His Influences", 11-22 January (except 20 January), 6.30pm onwards (weekdays) and 10.30am onwards (weekends), at the India Habitat Centre, Lodi Road (24682001). Workshop fee, 6,000 (for IHC film club members on validation of ID cards) and 9,000 (for non-members). For the schedule, visit www.habitatfilmclub.com/hitchcock-workshop.php

Also Read | ‘Hitchcock far surpasses the work of other directors’

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