|Directed by||Rajiv M 'Shankar'|
|Produced by||Shaily Kumar|
|Story by||Rajiv M 'Shankar'|
|Based on||Short story Shaher by Chitra Mudgal|
Shaher (The City) is an Indian experimental docufiction film by the Indian filmmaker Rajiv M Shankar who revisits people he met 30 years ago and re-animates his experience with them. These characters are portrayed within the framework of the short story ‘Shaher’ by Chitra Mudgal.
Bansi is a tuneless minstrel, Durga a passionate potter, Mahapatra is a failed healer and Vishnu a dumb and devastated poet. Each of them are voices, opening themselves and inviting you into their memories. Fate has brought them together to a remote and forgotten temple. The temple infuses new life into them. They have accepted their destiny and hold no grudge. Until one day a crippled Langda from the city comes to their village.." (Cit. producer)
As the society evolves rapidly, the city affects and displaces every person who in no way fit its schemata of things. The globalization of its ways on a planetary scale uproots and upturns everything, from traditions, culture and the remotest of the people.
In ‘Shaher’ we have four characters who represent this fast disappearing landscape and the fifth which is Langda does not have a name. Langda means somebody who is on crutches, which means that he himself cannot stand straight without external help. As the spirit of the city, he personifies its deadly and seductive powers.
But ultimately ‘Shaher’ is the story about these lost souls driven by destiny rather than their own personal will, reason or choices. They carry the burden of untold story within them, which they wish to share with us. Its just that we have lost the art of receiving.
All the characters are rooted in their traditions and the disappearance of these traditions also means the disappearance of their world. The temple wall with its 4 by 4 space is what is left. They own it in the sense that this space has hailed them, has gathered them and their gathering and owning up of the place as their own gives the place its meaning and character and now even the small confined space is practically owned by the temple committee which they had helped form. Release from this confinement arrives in the body of Langda, a crippled beggar who offers them release and exit.
The camera remains locked to their 4 by 4 space and the composition itself becomes a means to intensify the experience as to what it means to be constrained and confined. A feeling of dislocation and loss permeates the film.
The loss of being dispossessed; To own a 4 by 4 land and to be Bansi, Durga, Ojha, Vishnu and to loose everything. This is what the film is all about.
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