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In films like ‘Iewduh’, the place it is shot in becomes the film itself

Still from ‘Iewduh’.

Still from ‘Iewduh’.  

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Pradip Kurbah’s Khasi film is shot entirely in Shillong’s crowded, bustling, local market

Films, and the places they are shot in, often have a symbiotic relationship. They feed off each other, making both memorable — be it Rajasthan in Guide or Ladakh in 3 Idiots. Then there are some movies in which the place becomes a character in itself, not just the picturesque backdrop, as in Vetrimaaran’s Vada Chennai, which captures the manic energy and violence of North Chennai’s ‘rowdies’.

And then there are others where the place is the film. In Dipesh Jain’s unheralded debut, Gali Guleiyan (2017), for instance, the congested, bewildering lanes of Old Delhi mirror the labyrinthine, feverish mind of the tortured protagonist. The locale embodies the physical and psychological claustrophobia that the film dives into.

Pradip Kurbah’s Khasi film Iewduh, which will have its world premiere at the forthcoming Busan Film Festival before its India premiere at the 21st Mumbai Film Festival, reminded me a lot of Gali Guleiyan even though the two are strikingly different films: in Iewduh too, the place is the film.

Shot entirely in Shillong’s crowded, bustling, local market called Iewduh, the film at one level is all about taking the camera, rather adventurously, to places Indian cinema has not gone before. At another, it is about reflecting on a certain way of life, of people living cheek-by-jowl in congested lanes where shabbiness and vibrancy live together. These are mazes of habitation, where people can, and actually have, got entirely lost in.

Everyday heroes

Kurbah always wanted to make a film in Iewduh to bring these untold stories to the fore. “Every time I visited, I used to find stories that are normally ignored and not talked about. These are to do with common people, each of whom is a hero but never dignified as one,” he says.

While he was inspired by some of these real accounts, the film itself is fiction. There are many characters; their stories criss-cross, move apart or converge as the camera travels through the lanes and bylanes. These are accounts of people lost, abandoned and reclaimed. It’s about ceaseless search and also an endless wait — a son searches for his mother, a father for his son — a wait that often brings life to an interminable pause. One that makes you drop anchor and decide to go nowhere from Iewduh. Ultimately, it’s all about acceptance, forgiveness and reconciliation and of moving on and finding redemption in startlingly unanticipated ways. “It’s about people who eventually make the lives of each other better,” says Kurbah.

Iewduh is also about death, real and metaphorical. It’s about how, at times, dreams have to die to set you free. Kurbah, however, doesn’t make things dismal; just keeps a bitter-sweet touch. “I didn’t want to portray overt negativity,” he says.

The ways of filming reflect the theme and vice versa. There is a deliberate lack of an underlying structure. Iewduh is not plot driven as much as it’s about capturing little, fleeting moments. “So I just let the camera roll in the vast space,” says Kurbah. “It is structured like a walkabout in the sprawling market. ” He uses a drone camera to bring alive the panoramic expanse. In keeping with the on-the-move camera and the free-flowing form, he decided not to hold any workshops or rehearsals with the local people either, who form the real, rich tapestry against which the story plays out. . The manic maze the film depicts is Iewduh, but it is also life at large.

The writer is Associate Editor-Cinema with The Hindu in Mumbai.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 4:32:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/in-films-like-iewduh-the-place-it-is-shot-in-becomes-the-film-itself/article29351640.ece

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