Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In God's Land / KADAVULIN NILATHIL

HDV / 70 min / 2013 / Tamil / with English subtitles
Supported by AND fund, Korea
Produced by PSBT

Festival Screenings
Official Selection Competition--Busan Film Festival
Official Selection Competition--Signs Film Festival, Trivandrum
Official Selection Competition--CMS Vatavaran Festival, Delhi
Official Selection Competition--Zanzibar Film Festival
Official Selection Competition--Eco Tinai 
Official Selection--0110 International Digital Film Festival, New Delhi
Official Selection--Chennai Documentary Festival


Awards
Best Eco Documentary Feature Runner up Award at the Tinai Ecofilm Festival - TEFF 2014.
"For a human rights and environmental justice story that is relevant not only to contemporary India but also to many parts of the world, where communities struggle for the rights to their lands."


Other screenings: (Chennai --- Periyar Thidal, MIDS, Madras University, Prasad Film Academy), (Bangalore --Alternate Law Forum, St Josephs College, Indian Institute of Science, Shristi School of Design), (Delhi -- Kriti Film Club, Sruti) & Alwan for the Arts (New York)

Synopsis

After taming a former wasteland through hard work and sweat and creating  a community, the settlers start living there. The mythical birth of their village God Sudalai Swami unfolds the village’s unique journey to fight the oppression of the ‘big’ Vanamamalai Temple. Now that the clergy owns the land, the settlers are reduced to being tenant farmers and must make way for redevelopment after the land is sold off for a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). A dispute over god’s land begins. is not simply about the fight between the priests and the farmers. Using animation it recounts the history of the land and satirizes the exploitation perpetuated by religion and class distinction. The film looks at the land within the larger issue of development, forcing us to recognize the totalitarian attitude of the ideals of development, ostensibly to bring economic prosperity but rarely a benefit to real users. But the film’s most interesting element is the people living on this god’s land. Instead of fighting the temple or government, they accept this dire reality and try to find comfort in god’s will, perhaps because for them it is still the land of god. (CHO Young-jung, Busan Film Festival)

Reviews
http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/struggle-in-a-sacred-land/article4428226.ece
http://www.sunday-guardian.com/masala-art/gods-land-bought-and-sold-for-progress
http://epaper.dnaindia.com/epapermain.aspx?pgNo=2&edcode=860004&eddate=2013-02-07
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/312116/exploring-sensitive-issue.html
   
Director, Camera, Sound Design and Editing --- Pankaj Rishi Kumar
Animation          --- Aditi Chitre
Location Sound --- Pankaj Rishi Kumar, Aravind Kumar, Tangella Madhavi
Sound Mix         --- Pritam das

Institutional DVD sale price: 15 USD only. Contact kumartalkies@yahoo.com

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

SEEDS of DISSENT 
(DV / 2009/ 50 mts)
'Seeds of Dissent' documents Dr. Joshi's cycle yatra from Kanyakumari to Dehradun over a period of two months in Jan'08. During the journey Dr. Joshi meets and interacts with the farmers and raises relevant issues. We see farmers selling land to industries, coming up of SEZ's, farmers being coaxed to take nonviable loans for tractors, issue of farmer’s suicide, preference being given to Industry (Coke) for water, and farmers resorting to distress sale. Dr. Joshi analyses situations and presents his own alternative in the form of a 'farmer’s bank’.

Winners of VIII Development Film Festival, Madurai

Festivals
Mumbai Documentary Festival (Competition Section)
CMS Vatavaran (Competition Section)
Open Frame PSBT

Crew
Production Company: KUMAR TALKIES
Producer: PSBT
Director/Camera/Editing: Pankaj Rishi Kumar
Associate Director: T Madhavi
Location Sound: Pankaj Rishi Kumar, T Madhavi, Arvind Kumar
Sound Mixing: Pritam Das

Labels:

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Punches n Ponytails
a film on women boxing in India
(74 min/DV/2008)
Synopsis
The film is a journey into the sweet science of boxing being practiced by two Indian women. The film unfolds with them as they wrestle with their day to day existence of being a boxer and the conflicts that surround them. While one of the boxers, is facing hardships to become a champion, the other struggles with the limitations of her own body and need to prove that she too can box like her brother. Using cinema verité style and shot over a period of two and half years, the film articulates the boxers concerns and share experiences and ideas about their future.

Director’s Statement
I read a very small article on the sports page of a mainstream newspaper mentioning that a woman boxer from India had become the world champion. I was taken aback. I wondered why people were not talking about her or why there have been no films made on women boxing in India . I set out looking for answers … From Dec’04 to May’07, I shot with two woman boxers as they tried to understand their bodies, their undying love for the sport and their constant struggle to realize their dreams. It was not important for me whether the two boxers won or lost, what was important was their negotiations with people and forces around them. The question for women boxers determined to stay in the game was not ‘why?’ but instead, as I came to ask myself in this film, ‘why not?’

Produced with support from Jan Vrijman Fund and Gothenburg Film festival Fund. Additional support: MAJLIS and SARAI.   The film had its world premiere at Göteborg festival in Jan’08. Screened at IDFA (Amsterdam), MIAAC (New York), 'Bollywood and Beyond' (Stuttgart), DOKFEST (Munich), SANFIC (Chile), FSA (Kathmandu), and Torino GLBT Film festival.


Press
At first glance, it might seem like just an exotic, quaint curiosity, but this documentary about female boxing in India is surprisingly candid and heartfelt. ......Instead of concerning himself with whether they won or lost the bouts, the director wanted to portray the love these young women have for the sport; their doubts and fears about the future, and their efforts to make their dreams comes true..... (SANFIC, CHILE)

....what emerges is a poignant study of two young women as they pursue their dreams, cope with setbacks, and confront their different sexualities--made even more poignant by the fact that, in the end, neither of them achieve success and both swallow up into the dark anonymity of the small town. However, one surprising winner in this testimony is the mobile phone, as we watch lives being mapped out by the recurring intrusions of ring tones .... (Asha Kasbekar, Business India)

Two young Indian women would like nothing better than becoming professional boxers ... But in conservative India, this dream implicates a fight against prejudice and disapproval, particularly from men ....The boxing scenes in Punches 'n Ponytails are dazzling. The camera makes the same fast movements as the boxing girls, while the editing has an equally speedy tempo.... IDFA (Amsterdam)
Two young women, dream of becoming professional boxers. But these girls don’t just box; they fight against the expectations of their families and of a conservative, patriarchal society, where fierce displays of aggression are not considered to be becoming of young females... Over the course of two and a half years, the director’s camera is a confidante for both of these young fighters. In a cinema verité style, Pankaj Rishi Kumar reveals their desires and doubts, their victories and struggles, both inside and outside of the ring. ... Munich Dokfest  
Crew
Production Company- KUMAR TALKIES
Producer/Director/Camera/Editing - Pankaj Rishi Kumar
Associate Director/Executive Producer - Tangella Madhavi
Sound - Pankaj Rishi Kumar, Tangella Madhavi & Pritam das
Music - Sourav Roy, Chiradip Das gupta


Institutional DVD sale price: USD 350, contact kumartalkies@yahoo.com

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


3 Men and a Bulb (DV/ 2006/74mts)

SYNOPSIS
3 Men and a Bulb is a story of 3 men who earn a livelihood from their gharat (watermill) in foothills of Himalayas (Uttaranchal), India. The life led by these 3 men is meager, having access neither to electricity nor employment that brings regular income. Farming is very arduous, as supply of water is scarce. The gharat becomes a site, which each character wants to own and sometimes disown, in the quest for a better life.

The story documents the 3 men’s personal hopes, anxieties and dreams set against the rustic life in the mountains. The narrative traverses their changing relationship with self and each other, offering exciting insights into human nature. It is a story of Rawat, Satya and young Harish.

What happens when a rural economic system with a lot of promise is cracked up by administrative inconsistencies and individual enmity? What happens when 3 men who could have run the gharat and earned a comfortable livelihood, are moved by the inner voice telling them to leave and find a better source of income, a better life. 3 Men and a Bulb is a story about earning a good living, and a story about all the larger forces at work that don’t allow one to do so.


Press
The beauty of 3 Men and a Bulb lies in its simple, yet powerful, portrayal of the lives of Rawat, Satya and Harish. The documentary clocks in at 74 minutes and the time is well spent – which can’t be said about very many documentaries. By giving his subjects plenty of room, Kumar confirms the age-old dictum that developmental projects are meaningless if they can’t work for the people for whom they’re meant. “In a goody-goody film, you can tell people about new technology and its advantages,” said Kumar. “Even if you tell them the disadvantages, it’s at a theoretical level. But you don’t get into the day-to-day lives.” ... Nandini Ramnath, Time Out, Mumbai

Full write up: http://www.timeoutmumbai.net/client_flim/film_details.asp?code=17&source=1


Directors Statement
This film began as an offshoot of my previous film, Gharat. It was a functional documentary film highlighting the potential of and the need for reviving the Gharats (watermills) as efficient indigenous technology. In strange and curious ways, the more time I spent with Rawat and his Gharat, I was convinced that my previous film could have been treated in a different manner both in form and content. The anger was both a frustration and a release. The frustration reflected in the fact that the issue based documentary form, which I was so used to, was insuffient to capture the essence in 28 minutes dictated by television. On the other hand, the release was accompanied by exploring a different form --a form that allowed me to test the boundaries of Truth, the real and unreal.

3 Men and a Bulb shatters the optimistic note plucked by the previous film, and depicts the stark microcosmic reality of one particular gharat, one particular village, and 3 men who are or will be earning their income from the gharat. For a year (6 visits of 10 days each) I documented the life of these 3 men, unaware of what will happen ...what is the drama in store...

People do all sorts of unimaginable things to earn one square meal daily. Rawat, Satya and Harish should be thankful that they have a genuine and efficient way of earning a livelihood. But some things clearly might ruin it for them – total lack of government interest in gharats, and as Rawat says, the ignorance of HESCO in periodically supervising the schemes. Add to this the personal insecurities of the 3 men, and a perfectly valid source of income, bulb, could go bust.

A fiction film with roots in documentary; a documentary which unravels as fiction.

The film is an attempt to construct a fictional narrative capturing the drama of everyday mundane life. The cinema verite style of documentary has been purposefully merged with the dramatic expressive style of fiction.

Check: www.upperstall.com/3men_and_bulb.html


Awards/Festivals
At the annual IDPA (Indian documentary producers association) awards "3 men and a Bulb" was awarded the Best Documentary prize for "its sensitive construction of a discourse on displacement and infrastructure imbalances, done with meditative aplomb at an extraordinarily restrained pace."


Screenings
Mumbai Doc Festival
Dokfest’ Munich


Crew
Production Company: KUMAR TALKIES
Producer/Director/Camera/editing: Pankaj Rishi Kumar
Location Sound: Pankaj Rishi Kumar & Narendra Mishra
Sound Design: Pankaj Rishi Kumar & Pritam das
Sound Mix: Pritam das
Production: Narendra Mishra & Shreyas beltangdy
Associate Director: T Madhavi
Assistant Editor: Shreyas beltangdy


Director's Notes
In March, 2004, I was researching for my documentary film on the Gharats (watermills). It was a functional documentary film highlighting the potential of and the need for reviving the Gharats as efficient indigenous technology. While talking to villagers in Uttaranchal, I realized the struggles of the Gharatswamis, (Watermill owners) who not only revived their Gharats but also effectively used them to produce electricity. Often, the meagre electricity produced was distributed to the neighbours either free or for minimal charges that went into the maintenance of the Gharat. I found the relationship between the Gharatswamis and the villagers untainted by profit making and a model for the outside world to demonstrate self sufficiency and harmony.

During one such visit, I met Rawat, at Tal village. He was old and a loner. His family was living in the near by town of Rishikesh (25kms away) but Rawat was adamant that he could earn his income reviving his ancestral Gharat. HESCO, a reputed NGO had helped him to revive it. Ironically, after initial praises of HESCO, Rawat started complaining about non payments by villagers for the electricity. I was taken aback by the calculative nature of Rawat. As he spoke, Satya his partner sat listening in silence. Harish, Rawat’s nephew, was indifferent in spite of Rawat’s repeated statements that Harish is going to take over the Gharat once he finishes school.

I realized that there were a lot of untold emotions running in the manner Satya, Rawat and Harish were behaving. Their silence was uncomfortable and the only reason they were sitting under the mango tree was because of the Gharat. They were relying on it for their livelihood. On our way back, as we were moving away from the beautiful but hostile terrain around Tal village, I knew there was a film to be made following the lives of the three men whom I had just left behind under the mango tree. Later, when the film was made, the image of three men sitting under the mango tree became symbolic. They sat in silence, not uttering a word. I went back to Tal after completing the 28 min documentary on the Gharat. In strange and curious ways, the more time I spent with Rawat and his Gharat, I was convinced that my previous film could have been treated in a different manner both in form and content. The anger was both a frustration and a release. The frustration reflected in the fact that the issue based documentary form, which I was so used to, was insufficient to capture the essence in 28 minutes dictated by television. On the other hand, the release was accompanied by exploring a different form --a form that allowed me to test the boundaries of Truth and the conventions I followed in making my documentaries.

June, 2004: For the first few weeks, I kept the camera aside and spent time talking to Rawat. Satya would join us occasionally when there was little work at the Gharat. Harish made his appearance only during the weekends when he would take a long walk from his village to join his Uncle helping him clean weeds, farm and cook. Talking to each one individually, I realized that there was no animosity between the three except that each one was trying to come to terms with their own conflicts. Rawat was worried about his daughter’s marriage, his dreams about making the Gharat a tourist spot, forcing the villagers to pay their dues, trying to balance the accounts, and ensuring that Harish’s stays in school so that in future he can take charge of the Gharat. He spoke for hours, narrating his woes and experiences in the city. In contrast, Satya and I bonded immediately as he was curious what I did in life and how I earned my living. He was also very curious about the equipment too. As we shared our lives over hot piping rotis and aloo ki sabzi at his home, I realized that Satya was trying to comprehend the loss of his first wife, trying to adjust to life with his second wife, expanding his house, and trying to work harder to raise his monthly income. But throughout the shoot Satya refused to open up to the camera. He would mumble or just answer in monosyllables. In spite of making him comfortable, he just refused. Even, Harish was silent and observant. But unlike Satya he did not have much to say. His world was small consisting of his 2 sisters, stepmother, school and cattle gazing. He sparsely spoke about his dreams of going to the city for work or his lack of interest in pursuing an income from the Gharat. He would love the sweaters that I would take for him from Delhi. He would eagerly wait for me to return to Tal!

Over the conversations, Rawat and Satya kept repeating that during the rainy season the place becomes very hostile as getting to the nearest village takes hours. The harmless looking dry riverbed next to Rawat’s hut gets flooded and violent. I was lured to go back during the monsoon. Firstly, I like rains. All my films have images of rains. This will have one too. Secondly, I was lured to get away from city life. No one could get in touch with me for days while I shot. The only way to pass on information was to call Rawat’s son in Rishikesh and leave a message. He would pass it to the jeep drivers plying between the forest and the village. (The only mode of transport plying from dawn to little before the dusk so as to avoid facing the elephant herd moving in search of water.) Such inaccessibility also proved to be physically taxing and called in for an intelligent pre planning of shoots. I had only two batteries. There was no way we could recharge our camera batteries in a village with hardly any electricity. If I was shooting with one, the other one was being charged almost five hours from Tal village in Rishikesh.

August, 2004: I saw Satya’s happy and beaming wife. Later, he told me that he was about to become a father. They were expecting their second child. He also spoke about the ‘budda’ (the old man) who was being cleaver and cunning. On the other hand, Rawat kept mumbling that he was unhappy as the income from the Gharat was dwindling. Also, hearing that Harish was facing academic problems at school, we spoke to his teacher for extra tuitions for his forthcoming Board exams.

October, 2004: Back in Mumbai, while reviewing the gathered footage, a larger structure of the film emerged. I realized that to present an authentic version of their lives, I had to treat Rawat, Satya and Harish as mere characters in the film. That is, the film will be an attempt to construct a fictional narrative capturing the drama of their everyday mundane life. The cinema verite style of documentary had to be purposefully merged with the dramatic expressive style of fiction. Also, I realized that the relationship between the three men was changing dramatically against the changing seasonal backdrop in Tal. Hence, I had to shoot with them over seasons to record their lives. Finally, I also predicted that due to regular repairs Rawat will give away the charge of the Gharat to Satya for a monthly payment. Satya, with a new member arriving in his family would try to take the situation to his advantage. On the other hand, as other young boys, Harish would leave his family in search of work in the city frustrating Rawat’s dream. Satya informed that he had a baby girl. Rawat was visibly upset about the running of the Gharat. Events transpired quickly, as one fine afternoon Satya and Rawat spoke about their new deal. Harish come to see me only once during my stay. Rawat told me that he was worried, as he had started bunking school regularly.

January, 2005: Due to lack of resources, I knew that this would be the last schedule. Nothing new happened this time around, except the fact that the coldness of winter had crept into the relationship between Satya and Rawat. Harish too didn't show up. He dropped in one fine day just for a few hours and out of intuition I recorded my first and last interview with him.

March,2005: With almost 80 hours of footage at my disposal, we started editing. It was like writing the script for a fiction film after finishing 90% of the shoot! Also, since the shoot was an ongoing process we could only flesh out scenes not knowing what was stored in the future of our ‘characters’.

May, 2005: As I was making the first cut, I got a call from Rishikesh. Harish’s brother was enquiring if Harish had come to Mumbai as Harish was last seen leaving the village with his friend. Although such a disappearance of young men had become a normal phenomenon in the village, his family was heart broken to have lost their kid to the lure of the city life. Personally, it was the most painful moment in the making of the film. I was so emotionally attached to Harish because his silence reflected deep rooted boredom. His school was defunct; he could not relate what he was studying in school with the reality around him. The lack of food at home was pressurizing. As the promises from the Gharat were distant, he had to work to make both ends meet. In Harish’s story lies the story of distress migration because of faulty ‘centralized’ polices of our country.

Hence, 3 Men and a Bulb is about Harish and a story about what happens when a rural economic system with a lot of promise is cracked up by administrative inconsistencies and individual enmity? What happens when 3 men who could have run the gharat and earned a comfortable livelihood, are moved by the inner voice telling them to leave and find a better source of income, a better life. 3 Men and a Bulb is a story about earning a good living, and a story about all the larger forces at work that don’t allow one to do so.

The PresentI am yet to take back the film to Tal village as the film took almost a year to edit. I don’t know what has transpired in the lives of Rawat, Satya and Harish. But I know I will go back to experience the warmth and affection of people who opened up their lives for me. A few initial response of friends who saw the film was - ‘but nothing happens in the film!’ Yes, I agree. But I think the film records and reflects life as it happens. And in it lies the essence of documentaries.

Institutional DVD sale price: USD 350, contact kumartalkies@yahoo.com















Gharat (DV/2005/40mts)
SYNOPSIS
Gharat is a film about decentralized sustainable development. "Today, mountain resources are being controlled by the city, water is converted into electricity for city dwellers where as villages close to the hydroelectric projects are submerged in darkness?" says Dr. Anil Joshi, founder of HESCO. He believes that the Gharats/Watermills could truly be a vehicle for overall development without any ecological hazards as associated with bigger dams. The film problemtizes the larger developmental issues that plague the Garwhal Himalayas with the onset of building big dams like Tehri Hydro Project. These paradigms are cast against the background of Tau upgrading his Gharat, which brings electricity to his house for the first time!

The film has been funded by Public Service Broadcasting Trust &
The Mountain Grant program of The Banff Center, supported by Mountain HardWear---Canada.

Festivals
11° MOSTRA INTERNACIONAL DO FILME ETNOGRÁFICO
Cineeco, Greece
Festival International du Film Ecologique, Bourges France
Jeevika, New Delhi
Himalaya film Festival (Amsterdam)
2nd SWARAJ FILM FESTIVAL
Konark Film Festival
Voices from the Waters, Banglore
One Billion Eyes’ 2009


Crew
Production Company: KUMAR TALKIES
Producer:  PSBT
Director/Camera/editing: Pankaj Rishi Kumar
Location Sound: Pankaj Rishi Kumar & T Madhavi
Sound Design: Pankaj Rishi Kumar & Gissy Micheal
Sound Mix: Gissy Micheal
Associate Director & Production: T Madhavi















MAT / THE VOTE (DV/2003/62mts)


...in this film, Pankaj Rishi Kumar tackles one of the most delicate problems:how to show on screen the way the democratic ideal adapts itself to the surrounding social, economic, political, and cultural context? What the film director achieved with "MAT" is impressive inasmuch as the material collected (electoral meetings, interviews of candidates and converstaions with the electorate ) was so subtly deconstructed and reconstructed as to yield the portrait of a people in its full complexity. Through it we are transported not only to India but to anywhwre on the planet, where so called intangible values are imperceptibly corrupted as soon as they are applied:human all too human, as someone said ... Fribourg Film Festival

Awards
Special Jury - Earthvision, USA
Special jury - Dallas South asia film festival, USA

BACKGROUND
The assembly elections for the north-Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) concluded on 24th February 2002 with a predictable result: a hung assembly. The situation changed drastically after the Gujarat carnage, when the BJP had to win a vote of confidence in Parliament. They managed to scrape through with 23 votes thanks to support from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which demanded as a bargain that its leader Mayawati be made Chief Minister in UP. The BJP's political maneuver—an alliance with its traditional rival, representing untouchables and other backward castes---was steeped in cynicism and irony. It revealed the desperation with which the BJP, traditionally representing upper caste Hindus, was trying to stay in power, as well as the willingness of the BSP to compromise its adversarial politics.














SYNOPSIS
THE VOTE is a filmic deconstruction of the electoral process. It closely examines the interests and issues that guide the performance of different players-political parties, candidates, party workers and voters-in a competition for power. The film follows Imtiaz Khan, BJP candidate who finally stood third in the elections and Hemraj Saathi, a BJP worker. THE VOTE documents the nitty-gritty of elections in Siyana, an assembly constituency. The overall election process in Siyana forms the main structure, the matrix, of the film. The crucial subjects here are the voters, divided and categorized according to caste and community.Several narrative strands are woven into the overall structure of the film. One strand follows the history of the political process in Uttar Pradesh, set against a background of national development. Local knowledge of this history is articulated in the discourses provided by the BJP worker, Hemraj Saathi. With his revolutionary ideas and a desire to eventually achieve a position of power in order to affect change, Saathi aspires to participation in the electoral process. It is his way of accessing the socio-political ladder through which he can transcend his subaltern status as a dalit. But Saathi has not been completely co-opted. He is able to comment with incisive wit and logic on the corruption and lack of vision that plagues Indian politics. He questions the basic tenets that guide the behavior and ideology of politicians and the ways in which the social worker, the backbone of the electoral process, is completely ignored in order to misguide and manipulate the voter.

Voter identity is the crucial dimension in the film and it is reinforced by the constant references to caste and community, a political 'language' that rules the behavior of civil society. Dialogue between the filmmaker and the public is marked by the homogeneity of the group being interviewed, rather than the diverse 'public' that one expects to find in a modern ociety. The vox pop reflects by default the caste-ist and communal composition of he electorate. The common man is ubiquitous and mostly a silent spectator in the film. Through interviews conducted in different villages, on the roadside and inside homes, the film documents the voice of the people, which is overwhelmed by the euphoria of different party campaigns and numbed by the frequency of elections in UP. Issues of internal security, war and communal violence are juxtaposed with unemployment and the rights of the underprivileged. State-sponsored propaganda films promoting the democratic ethic and the purpose of elections are contradicted by obvious violations of the same. The electorate is at the mercy of corrupt politicians who are motivated by the high stakes involved, and exploit the deep-rooted socio-economic inequalities that have reduced Indian elections to a game of numbers rather than issues. In this morbid and dispiriting scenario, there are few individuals who manage to preserve a commitment to democratic ideals and the professed goals of the Indian constitution, which promises but has failed to deliver liberty, equality and fraternity to all.

For the last fifty-five years, India has had a democracy that operates from above. Democracy in our country has functioned as a sop from the elite to the masses, rather than a system of good decentralized governance that the masses are able to create, sustain and exploit for the establishment of a common weal. The production of THE VOTE has been motivated by a need to bring the vital issues in Indian democracy to the fore, by revealing in a comprehensive and articulate manner, the failure of our society to meet even the most basic challenges of such a social and political system.


Credits
Producer, Director, Camera, and Editing -- Pankaj Rishi Kumar


Institutional DVD sale price: USD 350, contact kumartalkies@yahoo.com

Pather Chujaeri / The Play Is On...
Mini DV /44 mts/ with English subtitles/2001















SYNOPSIS
How does art survive in a regime of fear? I first encountered this question in 1999, while taking photographs of Kashmir during that mindless war with Pakistan. That summer, I established contact with the National Bhand Theatre, Wathora, and the Bhagat Theatre, Akingam, two groups that were still performing in the traditional Pather form of satire.

I returned twice in 2001, now armed with a camera. I was encouraged by what I found: an illiterate community has sustained a centuries-old tradition in the face of debilitating social and cultural changes. Although perenially intimidated by the corruption, violence and intolerance that prevail in Kashmir, the bhands are still affirming a commitment to their theatre, to the critical potential of its form and the liberating joys of performance. Faith in Sufism has tempered theirenthusiam for satire and they identify with the collective voices of Kashmir's freedom.

The Play is on.... follows the two groups as they prepare for public performances, a rare phenomenon today. For the bhands, who daily witness the erosion of their way of life, each performance represents both a change as well as a repetition of the same
brutal fact: that they are not free to share their revolutionary spirit.


Previous screenings
Berlin, Margreat Mead (New york), Busan, Mumbai, Nottam, Zanzibar,FSA (Kathmandu), Amascultura (Lisbon), Berlin Ethnofilmfest, Lutton (UK), Rai Film festival(UK), Docudays(Beirut), Karachi, International Three Continentes Festival of Documentaries--Argentina, Asian social forum, Crosssing Borders (Iowa city), Lussas (France), Dallas south asian festival, wisdom tree and Alamkara film festival (Mumbai)


Awards
Best film---UNESCO MITIL Prize
Bronze Remi at Houston International Film Festival
Special Jury award at Karachi film festival
Special Mention--earthvision, santa Cruz, US
Special Jury award at Dallas South Asia film festival
















Press
It's not on the folk for, but a look at culture in the regime of fear ... Indian Express, Mumbai

It talks about living, the desire for normalcy and the inadeqacy of the state to provide for the common man ..... Hindustan Times, Delhi

Credits
Director, Camera, and Editing -- Pankaj Rishi Kumar
Producer: PSBT








KUMAR TALKIES



Synopsis
Kumar Talkies is a run-down cinema in small town Kalpi, where few films run longer than a few days, and each screening is missing a number of songs and dances, thanks to the projectionist's whims. Once owned by the filmmaker's father, it remembers better days, as seen unearthed through family testimonies and 8mm footage. Still, the faces of moviegoers reflected in the dark speak for themselves - the magic of cinema will never cease to captivate.

The film explores the relationship between Kalpi--a small town in northern India--and its only surviving cinema hall. The film chronicles Kalpi¡¦s economic decline and its citizens’s hopes and frustrations while taking a nostalgic look at the lost, lavish world of cinema. The film also considers the influence of television, which is gradually reducing the audience at the hall.

· Best Film: L’Alternativa, Barcelona
· Special Jury Citation: Zanzibar Film Festival
· National Award for Best Audiography, 1999
· Screenings at 0ver 40 International film festivals
· Produced with financial support from the Hubert Bals Fund, Rotterdam and India Foundation for the Arts, Bangalore

Director's Statement
Emerging technologies of image production widen the horizons of our knowledge and enhance our preparedness for coping with the world, but they do so by undermining and replacing already existing modes of reproduction, both traditional and modern. Through them, the exigencies of globalized culture come to bear on the collective imaginations of a town like Kalpi in northern India. Here we find cinema teetering on the edge of collapse, perpetuating alien dreams and borrowed desires far removed from the mundane-ness of existence. Kumar Talkies explores the relationship between Kalpi, a small town in northern India, and its only surviving cinema theater, a decrepit and cash-strapped shed located in a particularly dirty corner of the town. The film documents cinema as simultaneously a vehicle that conveys a remote, urban, imagination to a small town such as Kalpi, and a medium in which different people expect their localized existence to be captured and displayed.

Crew
Production Company: KUMAR TALKIES
Producer/Director/editing Pankaj Rishi Kumar
Location Sound, Sound Design Satheesh PM
Camera Avijit Mukul Kishore


Contact: kumartalkies@yahoo.com