Can you swallow the great Indian kitchen?

Swallow and The Great Indian Kitchen

It’s no secret that we live in a patriarchal world. We are at the dawn of new cultural reform, we are now truly understanding individual choices and freedom after years of shout-outs and books. But, any progress is progress. And to mark this progress, I bring out two cinematic parallels, Swallow (2020) and The great Indian kitchen (2021).

On the surface level, they might appear as two different films. But the thing that I clubbed them together is because in-depth they are the same movie! No, I’m not accusing of plagiarism, but I’m just pointing out the similarities in the theme. And this thematic similarities doesn’t occur from copying each other, but they exist around the world. 

The common theme in both the films is the identity crisis of a woman who is deemed to be a housewife for the rest of her life. And this happens everywhere in the world. The term housewife is synonymous to housemaid, the only difference is the wife is unpaid and should provide more services than a maid.

The theme

It is no exaggeration when I say women feel choked when this happens. Why would they as individuals should let another individual overshadow their identity? Now, the husbands don’t do that voluntarily in many cases, but it is indeed happening! In the name of culture and traditions we have long been shadowing a woman’s identity.

Both Swallow and The great Indian kitchen deal with this identity crisis of a housewife in their own different ways, deconstructing norms of their own regions. While Swallow is more focused on maternity, abortion, identity, freedom; The great Indian kitchen also touches religious and other cultural sentiments.

While Swallow is cleverly crafted and dealt with metaphors and surreal/psychological elements, TGK is straightforward and loud. TGK doesn’t hesitate from being passed away as over-spoken or being too predictable. TGK only cares about conveying the message and hence it is a mission accomplished. Right from the very first frame, the message and themes are clearly visible and understood in TGK.

The films as whole

While it is an artistic choice on how to make a film, it would have been better if TGK was not predictable. But at the same time, I’m hit with the dilemma that what if that is what they wanted to create? What if Jeo Baby, the maker, intended to bore me with predictability, because that is the entire point of the film. 

The film is nothing but an orthodox family and its housewife’s daily chores. Of course it’s predictable and repetitive. If this predictability was an artistic choice, it was a good thing to do so, because the message about the boredom and jail-ish feel of a housewife life is super conveyed!

But if it was a coincidence, then it was a lucky one. I wasn’t in awe looking at TGK as a film. But was in awe of the guts of the maker and the actor’s flawless acting. But if you ask if I would suggest TGK to others? Definitely I would! I urge all women and especially Indians to watch TGK!

Swallow keeps you hooked on with its interesting plot and character development. And it doesn’t feel like the plot is leading the character towards the shift. But it happens with TGK. Somewhere in the middle I felt like the character development was a bit shallow. It left a lot of doubts about the protagonist. The plot led the character shift in TGK, not how it should have happened. 

 We need more TGKs!

If only there were more details on the protagonist, it would have led the character development go smooth and doesn’t feel forced and projected. But Jeo Baby’s target was arranged marriage, regional cultural norms of marriage and post-married life of a housewife, so he might just have thought the details to be unnecessary. But the details would only have given a sense of completeness in the end.

India needs more movies like TGK. It is only through movies can we really make a cultural reform now. It’s time we understood why arranged marriages won’t work and only cause pain. It is already late to realise that housewives are nothing but housemaids with benefits.

Depth of field; Cinema and Photography

Depth, well, it is one of the words that is analogous to many other things. While all the other secondary meanings of the word are related, the primary meaning would be ‘the distance between the top and bottom surfaces’. Even when it comes to a movie, the depth becomes a lot of things too. For suppose, the depth of a film can indicate the story going to deeper levels or the subject of the movie being deep. But we are particularly talking about the depth of field!

But technically, or to say, visually, depth or precisely depth of field is something that deals with focus. Depth of field is the field of vision that is in focus in a particular shot. Different camera lenses allow a certain depth of field. The aperture of a camera lens decides the amount of light that the sensor captures. Hard to understand, right? Let us break it down!

How does a camera function?

A camera is something that captures light through sensors. When you click the capture button, the light reflecting from the subject falls on the sensor. The shutter closes, and the captured light develops an image. Cameras are something that can control time with light. You can capture a moment of running time, and you can freeze that particular moment and hang it in your homes.


Aperture is the hole of the lens. The light that passes from the subject is passed through the aperture of lenses before hitting the sensor. You can adjust the size of the aperture, and it affects the photo differently. When the aperture (opening) of the camera is wide open, it lets in all the light coming from outside. When more light falls on the sensor, only the subject appears clearly, and the rest of the background becomes blurred.

Because of the vast light that is going in through large aperture, this blurring of the background happens. And the blur occurs because the background is not in the depth of field. Depth of field is the area of focus in an image or a video. By making the aperture wide open and letting in more light, you decrease the area of focus, and only the subject of the image appears clearly.

depth of field and aperture

Similarly, if you decrease the size of the aperture, the light hitting the sensor is reduced. By each point of decrease in the aperture, the area of focus begins to increase. And if you tighten the aperture to the largest and closest, you can observe that now even the background is clear and not blurry. This blurring and focusing of subject and background happen because of the light going in and hitting the sensor.

F – stop

Something much more critical and confusing here is that the values of changing the aperture are referred to as ‘f-stops’. If you change the f-stops, the aperture either increases or decreases as per your requirement. The f-stops are fractions and are measured as f/1.8, f/2.8 and may have greater f-stops till f/22 or even higher. The common mistake one can commit while talking or understanding f-stops are about how they impact aperture.

It is clear to use that if aperture (hole) is wider then it lets more light in and the depth of field (area of focus) decreases. And if the aperture is close and tight having a smallest possible opening, it only lets little light and the depth of field increases. The f-stops with smaller numbers indicate wider aperture and the ones with bigger numbers indicate tighter aperture.

f stops and depth of field

It is that, greater the number of f-stop, lesser the opening of the aperture. And lesser the number of f-stop, greater the opening of the aperture. So, if you want to take a picture focusing only the subject and blurring out the background, you should choose lesser f-stop number on camera as it means that you are widening your aperture and letting more light. Thus, decreasing the area of focus, i.e., depth of field!

depth of field cheat

Wrapping up!

We have discussed how the depth of field is created, shifted and used to take pictures or videos. In the following week, let’s get into the practical use and ways of depicting the depth of field. We shall also see different types of uses of the depth of field to tell stories visually.

Everything wrong with Indian Mainstream Cinema

India is one of the largest film producing countries. India produces 1,500 to 2,000 movies per year, which is the larger than US and Canada. But why Indian movies are not regular nominees at the prestigious film awards, the Oscars? Because not quantity, but quality is what matters when it comes to art! India has 9 or so industries which produce films in their own regional languages. But yet it has always been a tough thing to get into Oscars. It’s simple. It’s trash!

100 years of cinema and yet somehow only a bunch of films which can be discussed, studied as a piece of art. It’s because of the rejection towards globalization and hatred towards change when it comes to culture or art. Cinema has become all about identity and nothing about art in India. Mainstream producers who have already bagged many riches have stopped or maybe never thought of cinema as an art but somehow made it into a business. The movie with more digits of profit is hailed as “India’s biggest motion picture”. I’ll discuss few major points which are going very wrong in the norms of filmmaking in India.

Crafts involved in Filmmaking:

24 crafts are involved in making a film! It is not that Indian mainstreams don’t use those crafts. In fact biggie films use all of the crafts with utter hard-work and dedication. There’s nothing going wrong in the labour being used to make a film. But the purpose of using such labour is entirely wrong! All the 24 crafts are to be used to tell a story or to be precise, to give an experience to the audience. Whereas here they are used only for “FAN SERVICE”. For example, there’s something called as ‘Vertigo Effect’ where the camera tracks in/out while the focal length of the frame is changed creating a distorted camera movement. It was first used by Alfred Hitchcock and since then many filmmakers are trying to use that Dolly-zoom in various scenes to convey a different meaning. But here, Dolly-zooms are used randomly with no purpose at all! I remember watching a South-Indian film where the effect is used just to elevate the lead character with a rising background music. The lead character had to be elevated so that his/her fans would whistle and enjoy watching their favorite star being praised.


It’s takes no Quantum Physics to understand the fact that Story is the soul of a film. I strongly believe that there’s no such thing called a bad story. There are stories which one might like or which one might not want to watch. It’s subjective. There’s no universal good and bad for the stories. But, the way the story is told matters! And again, here the stories are told in the worst way possible! There’s a film (which I won’t be naming) where the lead character is a businessman and visits a village to do some good and when baddies try to fight him, he suddenly behaves as if he’s hulk! Even the mightiest and the bulkiest baddies start flying and bouncing when the lead hits them. It’s nonsensical! Again! FAN SERVICE!

Celebrity making business:

Nepotism is not the only problem in not letting the real content appear. People who can afford to make a movie, started making movies to make themselves and their offspring a celebrity! Cinema has stopped to be productive, progressive and an experience to the audience! It has started to be ‘Easy Fame and Easy Money’ thing where people with no talent but lots of money do shit to gain fans!


Back then, Indian movies looked special with songs because songs were dreams, surreal fantasies which metaphorically explore the minds of characters. The lyrics spoke out the minds of characters. Sometimes, the songs progressed the story and enhanced the storytelling. But yet again, FAN SERVICE has overcome all those reasons and songs happened to be just showcase of actor’s flexible moves and hot bods they built all summer! Songs are placed in the movie very annoyingly that they are sometimes forceful and irritating to watch. I remember using these songs as breaks to go the washroom or buy some snacks. Irrespective of the story, the movie definitely has songs in most senseless parts of the story. There was another movie, where the male lead role narrates his sad flashback where his parents and his ex were killed by a mobster to female lead and his new love interest. Then the female lead starts smiling and hugging him which then cuts away to a random stage-like location where both the leads start dancing with extras in weird costumes! Like, what?

These movies are nothing but big screen Soap Operas!

We all know how Indian Soap Operas are! They are beyond the word TERRIBLE! They are worse than Mexican Telenovelas! TRUE! Everyone knows they are bullshit! But yet they don’t stop airing them on TV and housewives don’t stop watching them! Because they just watch TV to pass some time while doing their chores! They know that they won’t miss anything! They don’t even need to watch the screen to understand it. They’d be chopping vegetables or washing dishes where the soap operas would be running in the background! These movies have turned into them! Their sole purpose of existence is to glorify the actors, make the fans go gaga and shout like a bunch of baboons looking at their favorite actor (who never really acts). You can play these films in the background and do whatever chores you want. I played Clash Of Clans while watching many of these mainstream movies in India! And I could tell you whatever the story was! Visually they don’t progress a bit! The stories are all predictable from the very first frame. The first fifteen minutes of the film would be a song and irrelevant bullshit because even the makers don’t expect the audience to come early! The next 45 minutes would be 2 or 3 songs and few fights and few dialogues which no one would ever speak out in real life. I’m not blind, I do know that there are many films which stood out of conventions and broke the path of regular fan service. But they were heavily overshadowed by baboons who were not interested to watch them because their favorite actor didn’t dance, didn’t break anyone’s jaw, didn’t appear perfect and the story didn’t elevate and exaggerate his character more than a human can be. If you are disagreeing with me in this, you are either ignorant or that baboon who jumps and screeches looking at your favorite actor! You can simply spot a crappy movie by watching its trailer! Only way to get new content is to stop watching the shit content! Watch the trailers and be quick to judge if the movie is crap or not! It’s not hard these days! It’s only rare to find rare and unique content in trailers! Let’s not be baboons and let art be art! Let’s not worship the actors and make them feel godly. Actors should be the people who can actually act! Movies should be pieces of art which are actually an emotional experience rather than a banana in an ape’s mouth.

Yours frustrated,

Cinephile Pro!