Recommended for You: Ajay Kurian on Juzo Itami’s Tampopo

Loreta Lamargese

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Stills from Tampopo (1985).

A sense of wonder underpins Ajay Kurian’s sculptures and paintings. His sincere brand of science fiction allows us to move away from our world while remaining grounded within it. It’s not unlike a proposition of Ursula Le Guin’s: artists lie, and we follow their fibs, hoping something greater is revealed within the dishonesty of imagination. Tampopo (1985) is predicated on the same whimsical brand of storytelling that is impossible not to consume greedily. On the other end of this delectable freestyle filmmaking is the perfect ramen recipe.

What is your favorite movie? One of my all-time favorites is a film called Tampopo, directed by Juzo Itami.

How do you apply the idea of “favorite” here? It gives me joy and shows me the kind of movie I’d like to make.

How would you describe this movie to a close friend? It’s a ramen-western-love-story-gangster-walkabout. It’s dumb and smart and lovable because of how unselfconscious and curious it all feels.

Where were you when you first watched it and how did you feel? In my apartment. I was smiling from ear to ear, and felt like a kid when you keep saying “Did you see that?”

If you were putting together a double feature, what movie would you play alongside this one and why? The Host (2006) directed by Bong Joon-ho. Both films revel in their lack of genre, not in order to be self-consciously post-modern, but because the movie is just supposed to be that way.

How, if at all, has the movie inspired you in art-making? It has a sense of sophisticated play that I try to bring into my own work: to do things with intelligence and abandon, pleasure, spirit and intuition.