1 Voices From Baliapal
Ranjan Palit and Vasudha Joshi English, Oriya India 40 1988
“This is our land, our sea… we will die rather than lose this place” was the cry raised by 70,000 people in Baliapal when the government announced their decision to locate a missile testing range there in August 1984. Since then a remarkable non-violent struggle is in its fourth year…
2 A Magic Mystic Marketplace
Abak Jaye Here Ranjan Palit Bengali India 27 1996
Abak Jaye Here aka A Magic Mystic Marketplace ,or is a day/night in the life of one of the most soulful ,of all Baul singers. Born blind, he sings in the crematorium at Tarapith, which has been a pilgrimage centre for Bengalis for centuries. Apart from the usual Baul repertoire, his songs also include songs of Bhakti..in praise of the dark female diety – Ma Tara.
3 In Camera
Ranjan Palit English, Bengali, Hindi, Kashmiri, Oriya India 78 2010
A film about the filmmaker’s experiences as a cameraperson for documentary films and his reflections on the profession, after 25 years of image-making.
4 Egaro Mile / Eleven Miles
Ruchir Joshi Bengali India 160 1991
“You say you’re a Baul, then behave like a Baul!“ as Indian singer Gaur Khepa, rockstar-like long hair, beard and attitude seemingly at odds with his sacred music, remembers being chastised. Tradition and contemporary practice of Bauls, Bengali mystic minstrels, are explored in Calcutta filmmaker and author Ruchir Joshi’s essay film
5 Jashn-e-Azadi: How We Celebrate Freedom
Sanjay Kak English, Urdu India 139 2007
It’s 15th August, India’s Independence day, and the Indian flag ritually goes up at Lal Chowk in the heart of Srinagar, Kashmir. The normally bustling square is eerily empty – a handful of soldiers on parade, some more guarding them, and except for the attendant media crews, no Kashmiris. For more than a decade, such sullen acts of protest have marked 15th August in Kashmir, and this is the point from where Jashn-e-Azadi begins to explore the many meanings of Freedom-of Azadi-in Kashmir. In India, the real contours of the conflict in Kashmir are invariably buried under the facile depiction of an innocent population, trapped between the Terrorist’s Gun and the Army’s Boot. But after 18 years of a bloody armed struggle, after 60,000 civilians dead (and almost 7,000 enforced disappearances), what really is contained in the sentiment for Azadi-for freedom? Amidst the everyday violence and ever-present fear in Kashmir, there are no easy answers to such questions. Where truth has been an early victim, all language -speech, poetry, even cinema-becomes inadequate to describe what we know and feel here. So we reshape our curiosity, and point ourselves at what we can see, what we are allowed to see. The film then combines several forms and modes of expression to evoke the past as well as unravel the present. We are witness to an ageing father in the Martyr’s Graveyard; we are with a group of men as they survey the dead in the mountain villages of Bandipora; we sit quietly in the Out Patients Ward of the Govt Psychiatric Hospital in Srinagar. But we look elsewhere too, in the satirical farce of Bhand folk performers as they play in a village square; in the tense undercurrents of an Army Sadhbhavna (Goodwill) camp in north Kashmir; and in the images conjured up by the work of contemporary Kashmiri poets. Shot and edited between August 2004-2006 Jashn-e-Azadi engages us with the idea of Azadi in Kashmir. In 2007, as India celebrates it’s 60th anniversary of Independence, this is also a conversation about Freedom in India.
6 Forever Young
Ranjan Palit English India 77 2008
Located in Northeast India, Shillong is widely regarded as the country’s capital of rock music. It is the hometown of Lou Majaw, a 62-year-old hippie and regional rock ambassador who gives a concert each year to celebrate Bob Dylan’s birthday. In this small city on the border between Burma and Bangladesh, Lou performs with his band Ace of Spades everywhere and for everybody: from big concert halls to small pubs, for die-hard Dylan fans as well as the local teenagers at the St. Mary School, initiating them into the world of rock and roll. But he also puts on a concert each month in New Delhi. Skilfully combining Majaw’s thoughts on music, rock poetry and today’s India with the dynamic images of various performances, director Ranjan Palit evokes the spirit of his own generation and of contemporary India and its many facades. The director, known in the documentary world mostly as a brilliant cameraman, points out: “My hometown Kolkata has always had a very strong connection with rock music of the 1960s and 1970s. Of late, there has been a very strong revival in other parts of the country as well.”