Devotees of Rohit Shetty’s upcoming action movie Dilwale – never to be confused with fans of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani – cannot get over the recently released video for the song Janam Janam. Composed by Pritam and destined to stay in the upper reaches of playlists from some time to come, Janam Janam pays tribute to the electric pairing of Dilwale’s leads, Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol. Along with the song, the marketing team has released an interactive video on a portion of the shoot that can be watched by rotating your phone or tapping the screen to get a 360-degree view of Khan and Kajol rehearsing. It is best viewed on Facebook.
This feature is more video game than cinema, but there is something to be said about the power of the camera to move in circles. Different filmmakers have used 360-degree camera movement for different purposes. John Frankenheimer uses the 360-degree turn in his superb conspiracy thriller The Manchurian Candidate (1962) to unsettle viewers. Decorated American soldier Marco (Frank Sinatra) has a nightmare that begins in a greenhouse where a group of bored-looking American soldiers are being given a lecture on horticulture. As the camera slowly turns a circle, it takes in the powdered and behatted ladies who are avidly taking notes. The truth is revealed when the circle is completed: the soldiers are actually at a demonstration of a brainwashing technique, and have been led to believe otherwise by their Chinese handlers.
German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder used the full-circle movement as a probe. In the hands of his regular collaborator Michael Ballhaus, the 360-degree turn in Chinese Roulette (1976) creates a rare moment of tenderness in an otherwise cruel expose of marital infidelity and hypocrisy. The actors are Ulli Lomell and Margit Carstensen, part of Fassbinder’s repertory.
Shakti Samanta’s Aradhana (1969) has one of the most audacious single-take songs in Indian cinema. In Roop Tera Mastana, Aloke Dasgupta’s camera doesn’t just encircle the lovers, played by Sharmila Tagore and Rajesh Khanna, it appears to swoon and sigh too.
In the caper Thiruda Thiruda (1993), director Mani Ratnam and cinematographer Santosh Sivan spin a camera around three characters in love. The man and woman facing each other have to deny their true feelings in order to assuage the third man. The whirling camera sees all, but in this case, it conceals the truth too. It just depends on where you are looking.