Kumar Talkies
INDIA / 1999 / Hindi / Color / 16mm / 76 min

Director, Editing:
Pankaj Rishi Kumar
Photography: Avjit Mukul Kishore
Sound: Satheesh P M
Source: Doc Workers International
Ferdinand Bolstraat 426, 1072 ME Amsterdam
Phone: 31-20-675-4651 / Fax: 31-20-675-4656
E-mail: docworkers@wxs.nl

Pankaj Rishi Kumar

Graduated in 1992 from the Film and Television Institute of India with specialization in Film Editing. He was an assistant editor on Bandit Queen. He has edited television serials and documentaries, such as Annapurna (1995), You Call This a Ladder (1996), Barf (1997), and Bundelkhand Express (1999). In 1996, he conceived his first film, a documentary, Kumar Talkies. The film has been produced with financial support from Hubert Bals Fund of the International Film Festival of Rotterdam and India Foundation For the Arts. It has been screened at various international festivals and has won the National Award for Best Audiography.

Kumar Talkies is a run-down cinema in small town Kalpi, where few films run longer than a few days, and each screening is missing a number of songs and dances, thanks to the projectionist's whims. Once owned by the filmmaker's father, it remembers better days, as seen unearthed through family testimonies and 8mm footage. Still, the faces of moviegoers reflected in the dark speak for themselves - the magic of cinema will never cease to captivate.
Director's Statement

Emerging technologies of image production widen the horizons of our knowledge and enhance our preparedness for coping with the world, but they do so by undermining and replacing already existing modes of reproduction, both traditional and modern. Through them, the exigencies of globalized culture come to bear on the collective imaginations of a town like Kalpi in northern India. Here we find cinema teetering on the edge of collapse, perpetuating alien dreams and borrowed desires far removed from the mundane-ness of existence. Kumar Talkies explores the relationship between Kalpi, a small town in northern India, and its only surviving cinema theater, a decrepit and cash-strapped shed located in a particularly dirty corner of the town. The film documents cinema as simultaneously a vehicle that conveys a remote, urban, imagination to a small town such as Kalpi, and a medium in which different people expect their localized existence to be captured and displayed. Somewhere between the cinema hall, where disbelief is suspended, and the broader world of Kalpi, where economic decline questions the town's continued existence, lies a field of constantly shifting significance, made more complex by the competing images of television.
The question before the filmmaker was simple: In what manner does cinema survive, despite the forces that threaten its demise? It was compelling to address these issues by incorporating video, television and archival images into the multiple narratives that texture the film. This proved to be an effective means by which to capture precisely that collective imagination, and that fractured realm in which value-based judgments and preconceived attitudes about cinema are forcefully challenged.
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