Movie on Subaltern Life in Old Delhi Kicks off Artists’ Cinema at Biennale

The fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) reeled out its 100-day film programme, as Artists’ Cinema got off to a start at the Biennale Pavilion in Fort Kochi’s Cabral Yard, one of the ten venues of the art event that began on December 12.

The Artists’ Cinema has both documentaries and feature films and is billed as the subcontinent’s biggest of its kind.

The brand-new Hindi movie known for its unconventional approach marked the start of the package being curated by filmmakers and scholars from across the world. Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Jaa Riya Hoon, the directorial debut in cinema by renowned theatre-person Anamika Haksar. Late Saturday evening, amid the twilight-hour chirps of birds in the verdant 1.6-acre plot, Haksar briefly spoke about the two-hour movie that has won rave reviews and critical acclaim for its magic-real treatment of marginalised communities in the historical Shajahanabad pocket of quaint Old Delhi.

“It took two years for us to shoot the film,” said Haksar, 59. “But then, we had been, prior to that, meeting the people in Old Delhi, interviewing and documenting them for seven years. Pickpockets, singers, vendors, rickshaw-pullers, daily-wagers, loaders, coolies, rag-pickers….”

Ghode ko Jalebi, the director said, is like an unfamiliar road. “It takes random turns, leads you to places you quite don’t anticipate or know,” she added.

At the Biennale, the film won thunderous applause even as Haksar introduced three of the movie’s actors to the gathering. Ravindra Sahu, Lokesh Jain and K Gopalan (incidentally a Malayali). The three artistes, who appear in key roles in the film, also spoke about their experience.

The Artists’ Cinema is to run till the last leg of the Biennale which concludes on March 29 next year. The others in the first segment are Laurence Anyways (French, Sunday) and Bangladeshi documentary Muktir Gaan and American movie I am Not Your Negro (Monday).

Artists’ Cinema became part of the KMB in the 2014 edition, which screened 163 films in 100 days, having been put together by 12 curators. The 2016 edition of Artists’ Cinema had nine curators and several institutional collaborations such as Forum Expanded of Berlin International Film Festival, Lux- Scotland and National Film Archives of India.