At Home Walking

Pavlechi keli Tirth

- INDIA / 2019 / Hindi, Marathi / Color, B&W / Digital File / 114 min

Director, Script, Sound Design: Rajula Shah
Photography: Arghya Basu, Rajula Shah
Editing: Lavanya Ramaiah, Rajula Shah
Sound Mixing: Bigyna Dahal
Narration: Ira Saraswat, Rajula Shah
Producer: Shampa Shah
Source: Rajula Shah

This film, depicting the nomads and pilgrims of the highlands in Deccan, India, unfolds to the music of bards and a poetic monologue. With rhythmic shots and the repeated insertion of footage of walking feet, the viewer comes to realize that walking is meditation. The monologue quotes the words of many Indian poets who search for freedom and for the essence of what it means to be alive, depicting a rich world transcending time. This experimental film and its journey of the heart end as an awakening from meditation.

[Director’s Statement] I see my role of filmmaker/ poet as a bridge between the ancient ongoing & emergent modern. Within this context, understanding the changing realities of an ancient community practice and the ambition to heal through Cinema are central to the making of this film.

Travelling with my camera across diverse regions in search of the essence-tial, has brought me in touch with an India I otherwise have no access to—an India one meets as soon as one goes off-line and walks into the street. It is an India often living from hand to mouth, on the travelling margins. As I walk with them, I notice I watch the world differently when I move, than when I am tied to a piece of land. Over the years film has become a school where I have learnt what I could not learn elsewhere.

My journey begins at home. As I turn the camera upon the near, it reveals details like in a microscope I have not seen before. The processes of investigation demand inclusivity and anonymity. I find no better company than my little camera to set out on a journey I am called to undertake alone. The exploratory, experimental nature of the process cannot accommodate a large crew nor coordinated shoots. It prepares me for a long period of gathering images alone, drawing on my own resources. After a few journeys, there is also a second camera walking along with me. The journey that began seven years ago has continued through 2018. The making of this film is a pilgrimage; if one can imagine a pilgrimage as a sacred, secular act of measuring Nomadsland on foot.

Rajula Shah

Grew up listening to stories, being taught by folk craftsmen, and later studying cinema at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune. She works in the interstice of poetry, cinema & anthropology. Indigenous knowledge systems, performance, practitioners, and changing practices thereof, form the core of her study; emerging through a collaboration with people, their individual histories and environments.

She has been producing, directing, writing, editing and photographing films for over a decade, exploring the boundaries of fiction, non-fiction, art, and new media, and screening widely in festivals, museums, and other forums to critical acclaim. She has received awards for Beyond the Wheel (2005), Word within the Word (2008), ReTold by Loknath (2013) and Jumbled Cans (2014).

She writes fiction and poetry, winning the Gyanpeeth Award for New Writing. She has translated, among others, the eminent social scientist Ela Bhatt and selected letters of Vincent Van Gogh into Hindi. She has been on film award juries, on seminar and conference panels, and she teaches at various film and media schools including the FTII, Pune.