THIS VIDEO IS A SHORT EXCERPT FROM A SIX-CHANNEL VIDEO INSTALLATION
THE FOOTAGE IS COMPROMISED TO ENABLE VIEWING IN THIS CONTEXT
THE REHEARSAL, 2012
Shot at Oakwood Premier, Mumbai, India: May 2011
From the trilogy THE WOODS
Installation View: ACMI, Melbourne
Shot in Mumbai in May 2011 with the support of a professional Bollywood crew, THE REHEARSAL features six young Bollywood stars. Conceived as the second chapter of THE WOODS, THE REHEARSAL spotlights child actors who have managed to advance their careers (beyond the anonymity and gruelling audition-to-audition existence of the aspiring actors featured in THE AUDITION), and to gain a degree of visibility. As child stars, they nevertheless remain at a distance from the full-blown celebrity that they hope to eventually achieve as adult actors. They are as such in a state of rehearsal, not only for adulthood, but also towards the greater fame and recognition that—statistically viewed—few child actors will ultimately achieve.
As they describe their lives as Bollywood celebrities, their relationship to their fans and their approaches to acting, the six young actors at first glance appear to be spontaneously responding to interview questions. It soon becomes clear, however, that rather than ‘being themselves,’ they are in fact channelling the words of an adult. Each member of the cast was in fact asked to memorize and deliver a range of quotations drawn from interviews with Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan, an actor who, in the Indian context, perhaps best embodies the future celebrity to which the child performers aspire. Known to his fans as the ‘Badshah of Bollywood’ or ‘SRK,’ Khan is broadly considered to have achieved greater acclaim than any of his Bollywood peers. Based on a script woven entirely out of his words (as these are owned and re-performed by the child cast), THE REHEARSAL paints a quirky composite portrait of SRK, and at the same time offers a revealing glimpse into the workings of the Bollywood star system.
The high attrition rate facing young actors hoping to one day migrate into adult celebrity is suggested by the single chair that is temporarily occupied by each child (alluding to the children’s game ‘musical chairs’), as well as by the vase of cut flowers appearing behind each actor.
A new trilogy of video installations by Candice Breitz, THE WOODS takes a close look at the world of child performers and the performance of childhood as it probes the dreams and promises embedded in mainstream cinema. Consistent with Breitz’s interest in the role that mimicry plays in the forging of selfhood, and with her ongoing analysis of the circular relationship between real life and reel life, THE WOODS traverses three continents to explore the rituals and conventions governing the on-camera and off-camera personae of professional child actors, as well as adult actors who have become famous playing child roles. The trilogy brings together footage shot in Los Angeles, Mumbai and Lagos, seeking to observe and grasp the aspirational logic that is shared by Hollywood, Bollywood and Nollywood.
Engaging actors and crews whose creative labour would ordinarily be subsumed into these three giant popular cinema industries, the three chapters of THE WOODS bring a behind-the-scenes eye to industries that typically prefer to mask their inner workings. As suggested by their titles – THE AUDITION, THE REHEARSAL and THE INTERVIEW – in each of the three installations making up THE WOODS, a particular show business ritual becomes the locus of meaning through which to more broadly reflect upon and decode the machinery of mainstream entertainment.
Director + Editor: Candice Breitz / Co-Commissioners: The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (Melbourne) + Peabody Essex Museum (Salem, Massachusetts) / Location: Oakwood Premier, Juhu, Mumbai, India: May 2011 / Line Producer: Mamta Murthy / First Assistant Director: Mamta Murthy / Casting: Candice Breitz / Production Manager: Shivkumar S. Pillai / Director of Photography: Malini Dasari / Sound Recordist: Amala Popuri / Boom Operator: Mahesh D. Katte / Acting Consultant: Nivedita Bhargava / Set Construction: Shankar Samanta / Assistant to Director: Ashmeet Rajpal / Casting Assistant: Ruchi Shah / Camera Assistant: Sunny Tripathi / Lighting Assistants: Sayyad Hussain, Deepak V. Takke / Production Assistant: Darshan Waghmare / Makeup: Surendra Pardesi, Smruti / Spot Boys: Nilesh V. Manjrekar, Aakash A. Shilwant / Still Photography: Mamta Murthy / Post Production: Alexander Fahl / Cast: Ahsaas Channa, Ishita Panchal, Darsheel Safary, Shriya Sharma, Aman Siddiqui and Markand Soni.
More information available at candicebreitz.net