Shankar's Fairies

It is 1962: a newly independent and idealistic India that is still class-bound and exploitative. Shankar, a village man with many skills, is an indispensible servant in the house of a senior police officer. The little daughter of the officer loves his stories, and they share a close bond that transcends their differences. Meanwhile, Shankar's own daughter dies in the village while he is away.

  • Irfana Majumdar
  • Nita Kumar
  • Nita Kumar
  • Jaihind Kumar
    Key Cast
  • Shreeja Mishra
    Key Cast
  • Gaurav Saini
    Key Cast
  • Irfana Majumdar
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
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  • Runtime:
    1 hour 30 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    July 31, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    200,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Locarno Film Festival
    August 13, 2021
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Irfana Majumdar

Irfana Majumdar studied Performance at the University of Chicago. She is the founding artistic director of the NIRMAN Theatre & Film Studio in Varanasi, India. She has been awarded fellowships for her commitment to themes of social justice and process of collaborative creation. She has directed three documentaries. Shankar’s Fairies is her first feature film and has been a deeply personal artistic experience.

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Director Statement

Much of the story and characters are built from my mother’s childhood memories. My grandparents lived in a house from the colonial era, built by my great-grandfather. The specificity of the physical world, its habits and objects, were important to us. They have a beauty and fragility that mask an entrenched hierarchy and system of oppression that haunts India even today. My grandparents loved beautiful things, good food, and socializing. There was no one who didn’t exclaim over their flowerbeds, artfully arranged rooms, and tastefully planned menus. However, the truth about this lifestyle was that it was only possible through the labour of an army of servants: individuals part of an injustice so deeply embedded that even today it is unquestioned and taken advantage of by a whole class of ‘good people’. We arrive at this difficult truth by getting to know the characters intimately—their dreams, everyday encounters, inner conflicts. When we see that people are all the same—individuals on the same journey through life—then the harsh reality of the social situation is the most striking and intolerable.

The house is a silent witness: a larger-than-life setting that shelters and endures. The scenes are calm and stage-like – minimal camera movement and close-ups, an active inclusion of the setting – objects and colors and textures that surround the characters, so that they are in a sense equals with a life of their own. There is a feel of unhurried life and of intimacy in a large space. The arrangement of scenes is intuitive and rhythmic rather than linear and logical. This propels the viewer’s growing concern for the characters and builds up a sense of drama and urgency with regard to their fate.