Ballad Of The Countryside
The Indian feature film competition of the Osian’s Cinefan Film Festival opens at Siri Fort here this Saturday with the premiere of “Ballad of Rustom” directed and produced by Ajita Suchitra Veera.
The title of the film evokes a certain grandeur and gravitas. But Rustom isn’t exactly the subject for whom such grandeur has traditionally been reserved. The film details the “wandering life” of the protagonist, a government official in the Coorg countryside, along with his friend Kapil.
In an interview on the eve of the festival, Ajita said: “Rustom is only seemingly very ordinary. He is a genius, in the way so many people in the countryside are. They possess an innovative scientific knowledge. While the film is rooted in the countryside, it is not region specific. Rustom could have an identity anywhere.”
The film, which features a largely unexposed cast including some locals, borrows from the director’s memories of the countryside and continuing fascination with the people who populate it.
Drawing attention to the technical aspects of the film, Ajita, a graduate from FTII, Pune, said that it has been shot with a cinemascope lens on 35mm film. “Film has a certain richness and a raw organicity that digital processes cannot capture.”
However, she noted that the downside of shooting on film is the various circulation bottlenecks it generates as most theatres use digital projectors today.
Additionally, the film uses the “bleach by-pass” technique wherein, during the processing of a colour film, the process of bleaching is skipped. This results in a black-and-white image over the colour image.
While “bleach by-pass” has been used in the past by directors such as Roger Deakins and Steven Spielberg to various ends, Ajita’s use of the technique corresponds to her need to depict the countryside in a new way. “While Satyajit Ray’s black-and-white images were beautiful, I am not very fond of the images of the Indian countryside we have today. One need not exactly replicate reality,” she said.
Ajita has also made experimental documentaries and short features, of which “Notes on Her” was the official entry from India in 2003 for the students’ Oscars and subsequently screened at Moscow, Lodz and Budapest. “When you’re showing your film outside, there’s a perception about India that you want to break,” said the film-maker.
At home in Osian’s, too, one expects a similar energy from “Ballad of Rustom”.
“Ballad of Rustom” will be screened today (July 28) at 1-45 p.m. at Siri Fort-2 and on August 3 at 7-15 p.m. Siri Fort-4.