Private Project

At home, walking

In a world moving to a total mechanization of human life, the film inquires deeply into the question of speed and progress and proposes a way of slowing down to find synch with the present moment. In the midst of mainstream cinematic scenarios of impending apocalypse and intergalactic wars, the filmmaker wonders if the human pitted against its own invention- the machine, is fated to lose to its artificially intelligent adversary? Or is there another way of re-membering the originary impulse of being human? It is the story of a journey that begins at home with a woman and digital camera, and grows into a travel across Nomadsland. As the woman looks through the camera, she catches a vision of herself walking alongside a million pilgrims. Filmmaker enters the annual pilgrimage starting from the birthplaces of two mystic poets. It is a small faith with a large following, inclusive of all caste, class, gender- an uninterrupted practice of over 1000 years with a staggering 9 million people setting out every monsoon, from rural parts, on a 220+ miles march through villages and cities across Deccan, India. Rains being a natural shift in agro-calendar, enables them to leave for pilgrimage after sowing seeds & return before they sprout.

Besides being a school for mutual awareness of diverse regions, pilgrimage serves as a lesson in a life of hardship and few necessities. There is a belief across communities that an experience in worldly sorrow provides the pilgrim a detached view of life and temporarily, a relief from the tangles of everyday. Those who cannot undertake pilgrimage can gain some merit by looking at images from pilgrimage. New impressions from a journey conjure an invisible India/ Asia exploring a hitherto unseen dimension of a marginal people.
The film narrative corresponds to the pilgrim's progress as s/he walks from feeling tied and burdened to feeling freer and lighter. Sometimes knowing that best things in life like rain, wind, stars & sunlight yet come for free is liberating; remembering that my two feet can often carry me farther than I can imagine, is a discovery.

  • Rajula Shah
    Director
    Word within the word, reTold by Loknath, Beyond the wheel
  • Rajula Shah
    Writer
    reTold by Loknath, Do hafte guzarte do hafte nahin lagte, Aisa nahin hua tha Tahera
  • Rajula Shah
    Producer
    Word within the word, reTold by Loknath, Beyond the wheel
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Feature
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 54 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    April 30, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    5,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    India
  • Country of Filming:
    India
  • Language:
    Hindi, Marathi
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    4:3
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival
    Yamagata
    Japan
    October 11, 2019
    World premiere
  • Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival
    Jihlava
    Czech Republic
    October 24, 2019
    European premiere
Director Biography - Rajula Shah

Rajula grew up in Madhya Pradesh, India learning to make things with tribal/ folk craftsmen, listening to their stories and later studied filmmaking at the Film & TV Institute, Pune. Her work is located in the interstice of Poetry, Art, Cinema, Anthropology. A keen interest in the indigenous knowledge systems, the performers, practitioners and the changing practices thereof, form the core of her practice; emerging through a close collaboration with people, their individual histories and environments.

She has been producing/ directing / writing/ editing & photographing films for close to two decades and continues to explore boundaries of fiction/non-fiction, art, new media et al.
Her films have screened widely in festivals, museums and across Academic/ Art contexts, earning critical acclaim. Among significant awards are the Horizonte Preis at Dokfest Munich, Germany for Word within the word 2008; Signs Special Jury award for Beyond the wheel 2005, John Abraham National Award for Best Experimental film 2013 first for ReTold by Loknath & second time for the short fiction Jumbled Cans in 2014.

She writes fiction and poetry. Her poetry collection in Hindi Parchhain ki Khirki se was awarded for best New Writing, by Bharatiya Gyanpeeth in 2004; Among her translations into Hindi, the eminent social scientist Ela Bhatt’s ‘We are poor but so many’ and selected letters of Vincent Van Gogh ‘Mujh par Bharosa Rakhna’ are prominent.

She has been on Juries for National and International Film Awards, on panels for seminars, talks and conferences for Cinema and continues to coach young filmmakers, film buffs & film critics in various Film & Media schools including alma mater Film & Television Institute of India, Pune.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

I see my role of filmmaker/ poet as bridge between the ancient ongoing & emergent modern and of decoding the hidden invisible framework on which the visible structure rests. Within this context, understanding the changing realities of an ancient community practice and the ambition to heal through Cinema remain central to the making of this film.

Travelling with my camera across diverse regions of India 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 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 it has become a school where I have learnt things I do not have a chance to learn elsewhere.

My journey began as a quest to untangle some threads of a crisis apparently personal, yet universal. As I turned the camera upon the near and subjective, to look close, it revealed details like in a microscope I had not seen before. The process of investigation demanded inclusivity and anonymity. I found no better company than my little camera to set out on a journey I was called to undertake alone. The exploratory, experimental nature of the process could not accommodate a large crew nor coordinated shoots. This prepared me for a long period of gathering images alone, drawing on my own resources. In a few journeys, there was a second camera walking along. The journey that began seven years ago has continued through 2017. It has been rewarding in a way that I see the making of this film as my pilgrimage; if one can imagine pilgrimage as a sacred, secular act of measuring Nomadsland on foot.