When Pune-based filmmaker Rahul Narwane started his short film, Manohar Ambanagari, about the temple town of Ambejogai in Beed district, he wanted to draw attention to the rich but neglected history of the place. The 13-minute film that tries to lift the veil over the “untouched land” soon gained audience far beyond the shores of the country and has now got selected for five international film festivals. The film has managed to secure a place in the list of the 30 top movies that will be showcased at The Archaeology Channel International Film Festival in Oregon state in the US in May.
The young filmmaker who traces his origin to Ambejogai completed his education in Latur and Pune. “While pursuing Masters of Arts in Indology, I started getting acquainted with many aspects of the temple town,” he said. Famous for the temple of Goddess Yogeshwari, the town finds mention from the 10th century.
Other than the temple that sees pilgrims thronging from across the state, the town also has many historically important sites but most of them are either on their way to oblivion or unknown. “Over the past two-three years, I have been researching about the historicity of the town and the short film is an attempt to uncover at least part of it,” Narwane said.
The film, he said, is without a script but a longer documentary is being made, which will tell the story of the place. “We are in the final stages of the documentary and hope to release it soon,” he said.
Around 30-40 people have been interviewed for the documentary, along with extensive research about the place.
During the course of the shoot, Narwane said, he came across many places, which were hitherto unknown. “A massive structure was discovered near the Barakhambi temple that had exquisite sculptures. Also, the municipal museum, which remains locked up most of the time, proved to house many priceless antiquities,” he said. Some parts of the town, for example, the Vaishnav Leni, which houses exquisite sculptures, Narwane said, was facing the threat of extinction due to the presence of gutter. “Unfortunately, the municipal council has turned a blind eye towards this destruction,” he said.
Narwane said the short film was well received immediately after the release and picked up for screening and a special mention at five international film festivals. “The movie competed with 800 other movies from across the world and made it to the top 30 movies that will be screened at the prestigious Archaeology Channel International Film Festival in the USA in May,” he said. These accolades, Narwane hopes, will attract people to the place. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), he felt, has been partial towards the region in a way and neglected it.