About five years ago as city-based filmmaker Jay Gholap was reading through the book Women Writing in India 600 BC to the Present,he came across a collection of poems. In the collection that talks about various women poets,the works and biography of one poet that particularly impressed Gholap was that of Muddupalani. She was a Telugu poet and a devadasi attached to the court of Maratha king of Tanjore,Pratap Singh. Her controversial work Radhika-Santvanam,an erotic narrative poem,was banned in the early 20th century. The ban was lifted in 1947 and the work was reprinted in 1952. Initially,I intended to make a film on Muddupalani,who was well-versed in Telugu and Sanskrit literature. Later,I thought that tracing down other such women artistes will be far more interesting. However,in order to get a fresh perspective,I decided to rope in others, says 35-year-old Gholap.
Three months ago,Gholap posted on a website,inviting interested candidates,particularly women,who wished to research and make a short film about women artistes. Within a week,a number of enthusiasts responded and we had our first meeting. By the second meeting,we had zeroed down on the artistes, says Gholap. Madrik,which means To Me in Sanskrit,will be a collection of nine short films on the life and times of nine women artistes from various walks of life such as a writer,an artist or a musician. I wanted an interpretation of women on the team about the lives of these artistes, says Gholap,who studied Broadcast Journalism from New York Film Academy. Apart from making corporate films,Gholap conducts filmmaking,scriptwriting and film appreciation workshops.
The nine artistes who will be featured in Madrik include Muddupalani,Rami (a writer who wrote in Bengali during 1440s),Meerabai (a Hindu mystic poetess and devotee of Krishna),Mah Laqa Chanda (18th century Urdu poetess),Sumangalamata (a Pali poetess from 6th century),Janabai (a Maharashtrian poetess of the 13th century),Lal Ded (a Sufi poetess,who wrote in Kashmiri),Muktabai (a saint who wrote abhangs) and Amrita Shergill (an eminent Indian artist). The short films will be directed by women from various professional backgrounds.
While Urvi Shah,who has chosen Lal Ded as her subject,is a qualified doctor and spiritual trainer; Ruve Narang,who is directing the short film based on Shergill,is a painter. On the other hand,Hina Siddiqui is a theatre artiste and will be directing the film that traces Mah Laqa Chandas works.
Shah,one of the nine filmmakers,says that she visited several libraries to grab books with information on women artistes and found Lal Deds history particularly intriguing. She was not just an artiste but also someone who covered a long spiritual journey. At some point of time in her life,she stopped wearing clothes and was mocked by people,but she didnt care. Making this short film will not just be a creative but also a learning experience for me, she says.
A painter who has been practicing fine arts for the last seven years,Narang says that Shergills works fascinated her even during college. She was a revolutionary artist. Despite a short career span (Shergill died at 28),her legacy lives on. People know the brighter side of her life but there are lesser-known facts which never really surfaced. I dont want to make a documentary on her. My film will be presenting her story in a contemporary manner, says Narang. Gholap,who will be anchoring the project,says,We are in the final stage of screenplay writing. In January,we will be shooting the promos and then the project will be taken forward.