A film based on a folktale in Uttarakhand aims to showcase the State and revive its defunct film industry

As more and more young people and families quit their ancestral homes in the upper reaches of the Himalayas and migrate to urban areas in search of a better life and livelihood opportunities, Uttarakhand today faces the challenge of preserving its culture, language, traditions and folklore. Engrossed in modernity, the youth from the hills do not get to imbibe their history and culture so that it can be passed on to future generations.

Amid this background, a leading theatre personality from the hills has taken upon himself the task of promoting and preserving Uttarakhand’s culture and traditions. From staging various plays and shows on the hill State, Manoj Chandola has now produced a movie – Rajula – with the aim to preserve in celluloid the customs of the State.

Rajula-Malushahi is a well known folktale in Uttarakhand, based on a 700-year-old love story of prince Malushahi of Katyuri dynasty in Kumaon and beautiful Rajula, daughter of a merchant who lived in a neighbouring province. They had to face hostilities before getting married as they belonged to different castes and cultures. Numerous plays have been staged on this and Chandola’s Himadri Productions decided to make a movie on it.

Ironically, the movie ‘Rajula’, which was released on three screens in Delhi and six in Mumbai, could not reach the residents of Uttarakhand in the opening week as the distributors did not want to take any “financial risks”. But now it will be screened in Uttarakhand and other cities where a large number of people from the State live.

“It is also a unique opportunity for Uttarakhand-lovers to savour our beautiful culture, tradition and history through Rajula,” he adds. Though Chandola knows that he would not be able to recover over Rs. One crore that he and his friends spent on the movie, he is confident that this effort would bring people closer to their roots.

Four movies that can be said to represent the hill State are ‘Megha Aa’ (first Kumaoni film) in 1987, ‘Teri Saun’ (first movie in both Kumaoni and Garhwali) in 2003, ‘Aapun Biraan’ in 2007 and ‘Madhuli’ in 2008. Chandola also wants to promote scenic locations of Uttarakhand to attract film-makers from Mumbai and other regional film industries as an alternative to Kashmir and other locations in the country.

“This in turn will help employment and revenue generation. Apart from that, this effort can give much-needed impetus to our film industry which has remained defunct despite the fact that it has been over a decade since the State was formed and successive governments have failed to do anything worthwhile on this front,” Chandola adds.