FC@Berlin 2019, Dispatch 3 – “These primitive tales are often progressive in nature”

Posted on February 9, 2019

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Read the full article on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/berlin-film-festival-2019-only-indian-director-rang-mahal-short-film-competition-section-interview/

A conversation with Prantik Basu, whose ‘Rang Mahal’, based on Santhali folklore, is the only Indian film in competition at the Berlinale.

The only Indian film in competition at the Berlinale is Rang Mahal (Palace of Colour), directed by Prantik Basu. It’s part of the Berlinale Shorts section, with a selection of 24 films from 17 countries. This is the theme: As a woman from the Santhali community narrates a tale about the origin of creation, her village prepares for an annual ritual. This narration is important, because until recent years, the tribe did not have its own written language. Stories and myths were passed on orally through the generations. Each narration, therefore, takes on a different form, and the film represents this visually through the myriad hues of rocks in the nearby hills. This is the shape this particular narration takes: “This is an old story. In the beginning, there was only water. Deep, endless ocean, and darkness all around. Half-asleep, Thakur Jivi had a dream…” Here’s the director, talking about his film.

“Now the sun sets here to rise somewhere else. But we are all a part of the same cosmic history.” That’s just beautiful. Where did you first hear about the Santhali folk tales of Thakur Jivi and Marang Buru?

For the past few years, my filmmaking has been closely associated with the interpretation of folklore from different Indian regions. I find it fascinating how these primitive tales are often progressive in nature. They work as a time capsule. They offer access to our rich anecdotal history that is often lost in translation. While I was collaborating with the Santhali community for another film, I read various versions of their Creation myths. That is when I came across the stories of Thakur Jivi, their local deity, and Marang Buru, the great mountain or the supreme being. But my film is not entirely based on them. It is more about the unique correlation of nature and culture, and an attempt to present a parable-like tale of an existing ecological art at the threshold of extinction.

Continued at the link above.

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