TWO YEARS ago, when city-based filmmaker Prathamesh KriSang was on a holiday in Kolhapur, he came across a group of girls practising Mardani Khel – a weapon-heavy martial art form of Maharashtra performed with a sword and vita (corded lance). He found it so interesting that he captured it on his camera and uploaded it on the internet. The video went viral and much to his surprise, was shared and liked by even Oscar and Grammy nominee rapper MIA (Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam), an English recording artiste, songwriter, painter and director of Tamil descent.
What followed was MIA contacting KriSang in April this year and sharing her interest to record a song, featuring Mardani Khel, for her music project ‘Matahdatah Scroll 01 Broader Than A Border’.
The song named Swords, says KriSang, was shot in April itself with a handful of girls trained in Mardani Khel on the banks of Panchganga river at Shiva Temple in Kolhapur. Alongwith KriSang, Chennai-based Ashwin too filmed the song, which has charted itself on the second position on iTunes.
“I was already a big fan of MIA and loved her work, especially Bad Girls music video. A year ago, I had actually dreamt of working with her someday. I never knew that day would come so early. MIA is the most humble star I have worked with. When I got a call from her music producer, Ramji Soma, that she is interested to collaborate on the music video, I thought I was dreaming.” The song was shot over a period of two days with MIA and the Mardani Khel artistes.
UK-based MIA has been nominated for various awards including Academy Award, MOBO Award, MTV Video Music Award, MTV Europe Music Award, Grammy Award and the prestigious Mercury Prize.
She is arguably the only artiste to have been nominated for Brit Award, Mercury Prize and Alternative Turner Prize, and the first artiste of Asian descent to be nominated for an Academy and Grammy Award in the same year.
“When she (MIA) was here for the shoot, she specially took out time and went shopping for the artistes,” says KriSang, who hails from Kolhapur and has pursued his Bachelors in Business Administration in 2011 from BMCC. A self-taught director, editor and cinematographer, he has recently won a couple of national and international awards for his short film titled One Last Question.
The song opens with a number of young girls – all dressed in black – with swords in their hands, followed by their vigorous movements that results in weapons
Further sharing details about the song, KriSang says that the Mardani Khel artistes, featured alongside MIA in the song, have undergone training of the art form from Avdhoot Ghatage of Hind Prathishthan, Kolhapur.
“The art form dates back to the times of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj; These days, it is performed during occasions such as Shiv Jayanti and Ganpati Festival. I always had this dream of endorsing Mardani Khel internationally. I am so thrilled to watch the video of Swords,” says Ghatage.