[Assam] A French documentary on Majuli
nilankur at gmail.com
Mon Sep 15 20:15:10 IST 2008
Would like to have the movie for our festival, Utpal, can you give me some
On Mon, Sep 15, 2008 at 8:11 PM, utpal borpujari <utpalb21 at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Majuli through a French viewfinder
> A documentary by a filmmaker from France looks at life in Majuli river
> island, finds Utpal Borpujari
> With most of it under the waters thanks to the mighty Brahmaputra's annual
> flood fury, the Majuli island does not have much to rejoice about right now.
> One of the world's largest riverine islands, Majuli has, in fact, been in
> news in recent years for all the wrong reasons. The Government of India has
> been repeatedly unsuccessful in getting it the UNESCO World Heritage Site
> tag. It has been the site of ULFA's killing of social activist Sanjoy Ghose
> over a decade ago. And its very survival has become a big question mark with
> the Brahmaputra steadily eroding it away to reduce it to about 875 sq km
> from over 1,100 square km in the early 19th century.
> But this seat of Assam's Vaishnavaite culture has also been attracting the
> world's positive attention because of its Satras, as the numerous
> Vaishnavaite monastries in Assam are called, its rich ethnography, culture
> and biodiversity. And it is this aspect that forms the core of Dans Les
> Brumes de Majuli (In the Mist of Majuli), a vibrant, 52-minute documentary
> by French filmmaker Emmanuelle Petit.
> Interwoven with the story of writer Nadine Delpech, who spent around seven
> years in the river island soaking up its cultural richness, the film, in
> fact, germinated from her book "L'île aux moines danseurs" on the "Sattriya"
> or monastic traditions of the "Sattras" (monastries) that grew out of the
> teachings of 15th century saint-social reformer-poet-playwright Srimanta
> Made for French TV channel French 5 and screened at the Etonnants
> Travellers Festival at Saint-Malo, the documentary has acted as an
> eye-opener about the island and its heritage to the French, says its
> producer Jean-Pierre Devorsine of Via Decouvertes Production. "In fact, I am
> told that even in India, not many know about Majuli's rich culture," says
> Devorsine, who himself was fascinated to learn about the boy monks at the
> Sattras who practice the Sattriya form of dance and religious dance dramas
> known as Bhaona.
> "Delpech was mesmerised by the life in Majuli, whether it was of these
> monks or of the peasants who survive fighting nature's annual fury in the
> form of floods. She approached me with the proposal to get the film made
> because she had seen an earlier film made by us on Tibetan monks," says
> The film talks about the lifestyle of the monks that is "reminiscent of the
> Middle Ages". It describes them as "astonishingly beautiful" artists and
> "magnificent" dancers who create enchanting performances. It depicts how the
> monks have created their own social structure of a family under which an
> adult monk adopts a child of around six years of age, whom he cares for and
> raises, at the same time looking after the elderly "father" who raised him.
> This unique "family" is completely devoted to practising the Sattriya
> culture and tradition.
> Written by Delpech and Petit, the film recreates to some extent Delpech's
> visit to Majuli and explores the island its people through her eyes. "I am
> sure this film will find wide appreciation across the world and also in
> India, whenever it is shown," says Devorsine. "Of course, it is an
> outsider's point of view, so we are presenting it as a film seen through a
> traveller's eyes, touching upon the cultural and ethnographic aspects as
> also the devastation caused by the Brahmaptura there," he says.
> Petit and her French crew had to overcome quite a few obstacles too, while
> making the film, most of it arising out of the communication gap – they
> spoke French and the locals spoke only Assamese. "We would be at a total
> loss if the interpreter was not present during the shoot for even a moment,"
> she shares. Incidentally, the film's 1,50,000-Euro budget was raised from
> France 5, the regional government, an author-producer association called
> Procirep and the National Centre for Cinematography (CNC) of Paris.
> Its makers, after the successful screenings in France, are hoping that they
> would be soon able to screen it also in India, and particularly in Majuli.
> (Published in Sakaal Times, 12th Sept, 2008, www.sakaaltimes.com)
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