Montage is a way of conveying the essence of an emotion through a footage comprising of many shots. It can also be used to introduce the setting of a story through a series of shots. It is one of the go-to tools for screen-writers, when they have to stuff-in a significant event in a bigger story. Take for example, an ordinary guy aspiring to be a world-class athlete as in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. One can see his unwavering efforts, his failures and most importantly his journey towards his goal, all this in a song of few minutes! But then this very tool can be very dangerous when it comes to writing. Say, a montage is being written to show a character in sorrow. No matter how touching the background score is, if the character is just being shown in a variety of places with the same sullen face, the outcome on the whole is going to be bland. The reason being absence of a gradient in the emotions of the character. That is why, it is necessary to always keep a tab on the gradient, be it positive or negative, in the emotions of a character when writing a montage. Some good examples could be; a character, with the passage of time, hitting the rock bottom of depression (negative gradient), or a sick person returning to the pink of his health (positive gradient) and so on. Furthermore, there are montages that depict just the environment of the place where the story is set in. A variation of the gradient theory can be applied here too. There must be a narrative, to connect the shots in a coherent way. The gathering of clouds, droplets of rain hitting the ground, the dripping roof tops after it has stopped raining etc. It could even be a passer-by in a market, becoming aware of the time moving ahead because of a random voice! Montage is, but a double-edged sword in the true sense. While its effective execution can lift the experience to a whole new level, faltering at it could drive the audience out of the theatres! Come, let’s Write, Experiment and Create!
(Translated by Amogh Patwardhan)