The Peda from Dharwad

There is something about Dharwad that makes me go back to it every now and then.

Dharwad Pedas
Although this is where I had shot my second feature film ‘Putaani Party’  in 2008, my first memories of this place dates back to my childhood. We were transferred there. I was in my high school, then. 

It was here that I had started learning cycling. It was here that I was waiting by the highway, in excitement for three hours on an empty stomach, to watch the London-Sydney care race, getting thrilled by the swanky cars zip by.  The route touched the town of Dharwad and our school had declared half a day of holiday, so that we kids see this race. 

It was here when we friends giggled away to glory when we watched a naked monk who was on a religious padayatra (a tour by walk). Poor man, he was oblivious to our intent. It was here that I saw my first film shooting - that of Shankar Nag's 'Minchina Oota'. We had taken his autograph, then. It was here that I first saw Girish Karnad – the image of him riding a Bajaj scooter, I think, is still etched in my memory.  

It was also here that I got introduced to the films of Amithab Bachhan – Amar Akbar Antony, Parvarish, Don, Trishul etc.  And it was here that I had my first brush with a film society when I watched  ‘Sagina Mahato’, a Dilip Kumar film on a working class society at the Chitra Film Society –  founded by Girish Karnad himself.

Abdul Khan
I was thrilled go back there a few weeks ago to screen my latest film Haal-e-Kangaal (The Bankrupts) at the very same Chitra Film Society.  This was it’s 23rd screening. I have been networking and arranging small targeted screenings of this film in different places in India for the past six months or so.

Abdul Khan is the person in charge of the Film Society, which is one of Karnataka's oldest. He is also it's founder member. He was a colleague of my father while we were there in Dharwad and that was the primary reason why I was allowed to see 'Sagina Mahato' then, despite me being a minor.   
St Joseph's High School 

The energetic man lives nine kilometers from Dharwad.  On the day of the screening he had woken up at five in the morning to receive me and check me into a hotel. He was there with me the whole day – discussing things about Dharwad, the Film Society movement, about globalisation, and privatisation.  He also took me to my old school and also to the quarters that we lived. 
Srujana is a well maintained multi purpose auditorium in Dharwad.  In the after noon, we checked the
Our quarter's at Toll Naka Junction
projection, the film was being played from Abdul Khan’s laptop. Later since we had some time on hand, I was taken to ‘Da Ra Bendre National Memorial Trust’, by it’s president Shyamsundar Bidarkundi. Da Ra Bendre is a towering figure in the Kannada literary scene. A visit to his house where the memorial is located, is almost a pilgrimage. 

Bidarkundi showed me an old film on Da Ra Bendre made by  Girish Karnad; he wanted to know if the bad quality of the dvd copy could be restored to it’s original form. I explained him about the digitization process and on how he should get hold of the negative of the film so that a proper restoration be possible.  He asked me about ‘Haal – e –Kangaal’. When I told him that it was about two filmmakers who narrate a film story to one another he exclaimed, ‘So, it is a narration based film!’,  I thought he was disappointed.

he screening  itself  went of well. This was the first time that I was showing this film to a group of
Projection testing
people who were not related to films in anyway – neither they were film and media professionals nor they were film students. They were doctors, lawyers, librarians, government employees, blue collared men and women etc. Though they were not Film Festival hoppers, they did have a history of film screenings and therefore film culture behind them.T

During the discussion after the screening, an old fragile doctor, who apparently sees every film the Society shows, came up to me and said,”Film is an visual art. You have based your film on dialogues. Therefore, I did not like it.’. Saying so, he walked off. Earlier I had met his equally enthusiastic and fragile wife. She had made it clear to me that she had not liked the film that the Society had showed the previous day, Anup Singh Batla’s ‘ Qissa’.

Shyamsundar Bidarkunde was also very vocal about the film, but to my surprise he had some encouraging things to say. He was thrilled when he realised that the film was about 'who we are and who we say we are' and the dialectics behind it. Are we the persons who we really say who we are? If not, who are we? 
Shyamsundar Bidarkundi
He went on and said something to this effect, 'It is not the concern of the two characters in the film to find out if the other person is saying the truth or not.  Although both know that they might be faffing, they do nothing about it except to acknowledge it by the end of the film. It was okay for them to have met, to have faffed, to have acknowledged that they have faffed and then to have left. Like in 'Waiting for Godot', they had to do so.’

“So, in that sense the 'narrative' form that you have chosen for the film – that of people saying things to each other – really works and goes well with it's theme.”

Never had anyone expressed the thematic concerns of 'Haal e Kangaal' in correlation to it’s form,  in such explicit manner.

While coming back, I had two packs of boxes in my suitcase – boxes that contained the famous ‘Thakur’ pedas, the delicacy that Dharward is famous for.

To screen 'Haal e Kangaal' or any of my other films in your schools, colleges, offices and film clubs
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