Tuesday, July 11, 2006

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

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)

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

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

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


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