Tag Archives: Spring Thunder

Draupadi’s Rage and Sita’s Sorrow

“It is an angry film. The film is a warning:” Sriram Dalton, on Spring Thunder (2018), a film that had a world premier at the Bay Area South Asian Film Festival. Spring Thunder, about the blood-drenched politics of uranium mining in Jharkhand, is like a punch, like a gunshot, like a blow by a hammer and a slash by a sickle. It might remind you of Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin (1925). Or Bandit Queen (1994), the film Dalton says inspired him to become a film-maker. There is rage in Spring Thunder, a film about how tribal land is being pillaged by greedy and murderous uranium contractors, while government officials are ineffectual, or corrupt. The film is an angry howl, reverberating with the rage of the dispossessed, the marginalized, the have-nots.

Sriram Dalton, Writer/Director of Spring Thunder

I heard the same rage in the voice of two women, Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher, who screamed at Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) in an elevator moments before the Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh: “I was sexually assaulted and nobody believed me.”

Nobody believed me.

By contrast, Dr. Kristine Blasey Ford, the professor “doing her civic duty” to speak out, was sorrowful, tearful, tremulous. But not silent. On the television screen, struggling to continue, the psychology professor narrated her story about how Kavanaugh tried to disrobe her, while his friend looked on and the young men laughed.

An image of the vastraharan scene in Naatak’s Mahabharata play came to me, with Dushasan dragging Draupadi to court and attempting to publicly disrobe her. The rage of Draupadi, according to Purnima Mankekar’s article “Television Tales and a Woman’s Rage: A Nationalist Recasting of Draupadi’s ‘Disrobing” was expressed by her vow to wash her hair in the blood of Dushasan’s thighs, upon which he had insolently invited her to sit. Draupadi’s rage was in contrast to the sorrow of Sita in the Ramayana, who would rather that the earth swallow her to hide her shame when a washer-man didn’t #believe her.

Yes, it’s all happened before. An attempt to disrobe a woman in the Mahabharat. Blaming the abduction victim In the Ramayana. 

At the Naatak play, the vastraharan was executed with the technical excellence one associates with Naatak, Yet I found myself troubled by the Sita-fication of Draupadi. I had seen Draupadi’s tears onstage, but these were not tears of rage as I expected, but of sorrow. “Draupadi is not to be portrayed as sorrowful, Draupadi is to be portrayed as enraged,” I remember thinking.

At the Dr. Christine Blasey Ford/Brett Kavanaugh hearings, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is sorrowful and well-behaved. She keeps her rage from showing, because an enraged woman can be threatening, off-putting, too shrewish, too strident. Dr. Ford is like Sita, with her tears of sorrow, and her resolve to do her civic duty.

The women in the elevator are like Draupadi. They are enraged, and a little bit out of control. “I was sexually assaulted and nobody believed me.” The statement is like a punch, like a gunshot, like a blow by a hammer and a slash by a sickle. The statement is an angry howl, reverberating with the rage of the dispossessed, the marginalized, the have-nots.

The words are her unwashed hair covered in the blood of her sexual predator.

Geetika Pathania Jain is Culture and Media Editor at India Currents. She is usually quite well-behaved.

Cover Photo Credit: Naatak Facebook Page.

Bay Area South Asian Film Festival Comes to Town

The Bay Area South Asian Film Festival, BASAFF, inaugurates its debut season, September 21-23, with Sony Pictures International Productions French-Indian-Belgian co-production The Extraordinary Journey Of The Fakir starring Bérénice Béjo, Barkhad Abdi, Erin Moriarty and Abel Jafri, and Tamil superstar, Dhanush.

BASAFF is designed as a film festival and cultural event that goes beyond films to address storytelling in all performing arts forms: feature films, short films, documentaries, small screen productions, theater, music, and any other medium storytellers choose to present their creative work. BASAFF mission is to bring together all visual and performing art forms and audiences from South Asia and those interested in South Asia. The festival provides a platform for innovative films, bringing the best and established filmmakers and also independent, unique, emerging voices. BASAFF provides opportunities for the local community, film aficionados, visitors, filmmakers, and the greater South Asian film community to celebrate the power of film, art, technology and storytelling in an environment that fosters creativity and innovation.

The opening presentation The Extraordinary Journey Of The Fakir is based on Puértolas’ best-selling novel which sees the death of a hustler’s mother lead him from Mumbai on an extraordinary voyage in search of his estranged father. He finds love in a Swedish furniture store in Paris, danger with Somalian migrants in England in what ultimately becomes an unexpected journey of self-discovery. Dhanush plays the protagonist.

BASAFF comes together with one of the leading theater production houses of the Bay Area, ENACTE ARTS, to showcase the premiere presentation of their latest production Queen. Vinita Sud Belani directs Madhuri Shekhar’s second script after A Nice Indian Boy.

MIT, Stanford and a host of other top-notch universities are racing to be the first to discover the cause of a disturbing phenomenon. Bees are dying everywhere.Governments are worried. The significant economic losses that the world faces due to systemic Colony Collapse Disorder are just the tip of the iceberg in the impact on humanity. Deep in the heart of UC Santa Cruz, two scientists are days away from publishing a paper on the cause of bee extinction that will rock the research world. But when a 0.03% deviation shows up in the last batch of data, Sanam and Ariel must confront the ethics of scientific veracity and the consequences of their choices. The two performances will be staged at the Visual and Performing Arts Center, De Anza College, in Cupertino, California, on Friday, September 28 at 8:00 PM and Saturday, September 29, 2018 at 2:00 PM and 6:00 PM. Theater is at a different venue from film screenings.

Famous Writer-Director Mike Reiss is likely to deliver the keynote speech for the festival. Among the numerous celebrities at the festival, well-known actress from film-television and theater, Ms. Ashvini Bhave, will open and Actor-Director Parambrata Chatterjee will close the festival. A prominent personality, actor and director, of the Kolkata Tollywood film community, Parambrata’s film Sonar Pahar will be screened on Sunday, September 23. Sonar Pahar, is a critically acclaimed film about the relationship between an aging mother and her son and the rift that comes about between the two after he marries a woman of whom she disapproves. The film stars Tanuja.

The filmmakers and scriptwriter panel on “Enter Tech and Script-to-Screen” has panelists Ken Scott, Vikram Chandra, Saskia Vischer, Ajay Jain Bhutoria and Kireet Khurana. Saturday 22, 3:00 PM.

Opening night performance “Kaleidoscope – A Journey through India” blends traditional folk music with popular Bollywood songs and dance by Xpressions artistic director Srividya Eashwar. Performance will feature a special dance tribute to Sridevi superstar of Bollywood who passed away this year. The closing night performance features a classical dance performance by Samhara.

The documentary section includes Bird of Dusk, a fascinating look by director Sangeeta Datta at the life of Rituparno Ghosh. Rituparno Ghosh, with one of the most creative and fascinating body of work in recent Bengali film industry. He also was extremely controversial in his personal life. He came out as not only gay but also very publicly attempted to surgically change his gender. He died of complications from the surgery, its after effects and his attempts to reverse the procedure. Dutta’s documentary is based on Rituparno’s memoirs and interviews with those who knew him well in Tollywood. The film will be screened on Sunday 23, 3:45 PM.

Also featured will be the world premiere of Director Sriram Dalton’s Spring Thunder. A hard-hitting film on Uranium Mafia, Spring Thunder narrates the story of a Uranium mining tender at the highest plateau of India, enriched with thick forests where various native communities are living, Showcasing the tussle between sustainability and development in the context of rural India. Sunday 23, 11:00 AM

Closing night screening features the US premiere of T For Taj Mahal. Six time President’s award winner director Kireet Khurana’s film is about an illiterate man’s journey to bring literacy to his village through a unique social enterprise. The protagonist starts a wayside dhaba in his village where there are no schools. He asks the customers in the dhaba to teach the village children instead of paying for the food. Sunday 23, 8:45 PM

The sport focus feature film 22 Yards shows the rise and fall of a sports agent amid the backdrop of a professional league. The film is directed by sports journalist Mitali Ghosh who has made a documentary on India’s crickets icon Saurav Ganguly. Saturday 22, 9:30 PM.

Director Anup Singh casts Irrfan Khan, Waheeda Rehman, and Golshifteh Farahani in the Song of Scorpions. According to an ancient Rajasthani myth, sure death from the sting of a scorpion can be cured by the song sung by a scorpion singer. A tribal woman Nooran takes lessons from her grandmother Zubaida. Nooran marries Aadam, a camel trader but soon after receives a setback which sets her on a path of vengeance. Saturday 22, 6:45 PM.

Kunal Kapoor, Ali Haji star in Director Vandana Kataria’s Noblemen, a thematic representation of The Merchant of Venice. A young student Shay is picked on by other kids at a boarding house when he lands a coveted role in a play. The bullies brutally victimize Shay hoping to break him so he willingly relents his role. Events take a sinister turn when Murali notices Shay’s condition and intervenes to help him out. Saturday 22, 11:00 AM.

Short films (see program details for screening venues and times):

Pashi, Director Siddharth Chauhan. A young boy Chetan who learns about the hunting technique from his old grandmother Savitri. The film was an Oscar finalist in the short film section.

Everything is Fine, Director Mansi Jain. A 58 year-old oppressed housewife from a small town in India wants to leave her deeply patriarchal marriage but is met with knee jerk reaction of shock and anger from her daughter.

Soundproof, Director Aditya Kelgaonkar and starring Soha Ali Khan. In a society filled with noise, the only way to live is in silence.

Doitto, Director Tathagata Ghosh. Psychological thriller about a morally flawed homicide detective who must interrogate a suspect before a serial killer takes down his next victim.

Majaal Hai, Director Umang Vyas. One night events of Pandey, a diligent and earnest security guard and a series of multiple events lead that land him in an unpredictable, precarious situation

7 Rounds, Director George Savvidis. During the Muslim ban in 2017, two young Indian engineers go to their local bar only to encounter a series of challenges related to perceptions of their ethnicity.

Films will be screened at the following venues:

Day 1: 4:30 PM – 12 midnight: Schultz Cultural Arts Hall, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto, CA 94303

Day 2: 11:00 am to 12 midnight: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

Day 3: 11 am to 12 midnight: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

 

Festival and Press Contact:

Aniruddha Dasgupta: (650) 740-8463

Aparna Dasgupta: (650) 534-4502

For Programs and Ticket Information:

www.Hungamacity.com/BASAFF

http://events.sulekha.com/bay-area-south-asian-film-festival-basaff-2018_event-in_mountain-view-ca_332351

https://www.tikkl.com/enacte/c/basaff18