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Talking Writing: Four Conversations with Mahasweta Devi

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A very personal documentary attempting to explore the special relationship that Mahasweta Devi enjoys with the lives that people her writing and the people that fuel her activism. In a series of four conversations with her publisher and friend Naveen Kishore she revisits her life in a travelogue that weaves in and out of her story—a young woman writer trying to make her mark in a male dominated publishing world, coming to age both as a wife and a mother, a relationship with her once-estranged son—and the story of a nation in the throes of a freedom struggle, the realization that freedom is a privilege for the haves while the have-nots merely change masters in their struggle against slavery, the choice to actively oppose all that reeks of injustice, to record through her journalism and her fiction the less-than-human life of the tribals she has spent all her life fighting for, to remember the shoulder-to-shoulder camaraderie of the Left . . . and how this amazingly vital tapestry creates the terrain of her writing.

55 mins. Colour. English subtitles
direction and cinematography: Pushan Kripalani
VHS: Rs 650. £ 25. $ 35. NTSC: $ 50

Performing the Goddess: The Chapal Bhaduri Story

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Chapal Bhaduri alias Chapal Rani or Queen Chapal, leading lady of Bengal’s traditional folk travelling theatre-in-the-round, the Jatra, spent his life playing women. Until history changed tradition and women began to play female roles themselves. Out of work, ageing, he turned to a new livelihood: that of playing Sitala, the dreaded goddess of pox and disease, in dramatized performances of the goddess’s sacred saga.

This intimate video biography brings you face to face with a unique individual, reminiscing about the world of Jatra, discussing what it meant to be a woman night after night, talking for the first time of the woman inside his male body, of troubled sexuality, of a long domestic partnership with his older lover, of the essential loneliness of living as a human being on the edges of conventional society – and showing how he metamorphoses into the goddess in order to perform her story. In the process we get a fascinating view of the professional Jatra, an integral part of the people’s culture in Bengal.

In-depth interviews, extracts from milestone fragments of Jatra plays, the makeup process that metamorphoses a man into a goddess, and documentation of the play on the goddess, provide you with a rare entry into an unusual world, and a close look at Chapal Bhaduri’s life and work.

Colour. 44minutes. VHS PAL

dir:naveen kishore
research and script: anjum katyal
cinematography: pushan kripalani

VHS: Rs 650. £ 25. $ 35. NTSC: $ 50


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