The real rockstars

Uma Magals’ film 'Other Kohinoors' highlights the need to preserve the pre-historic rocks of Hyderabad that define the Deccan Plateau’s landscape

Updated - February 17, 2021 10:07 am IST

Published - February 16, 2021 05:11 pm IST

Uma Magal

Uma Magal

Ee nallani raalalo, ye kannulu dhaageno, Ee bandala maatuna, ye gundelu mrogeno… (In these black stones, whose eyes are hiding, on these slabs, whose heart is ringing…) are lines incorporated into the short film Other Kohinoors – The Rocks of Hyderabad . The lyrics from a soulful song rendered by Ghantasala for the 1964 Telugu film Amara Silpi Jakkanna , resonates in the pleas of rock activists who have been on a mission to protect the rock treasure of Hyderabad.

Independent filmmaker Uma Magal directed and co-produced the film and plans to have a unique promotion to reach out to the audience.

Back in 2014, Uma and Mahnoor Yar Khan (co-producer) interviewed a host of people and experts from all walks of life who had a connection with the rocks. Uma followed this up by writing a series of articles for The Hindu under the column Rockscape , on some of the people who were interviewed. “It’s a labour of love, as we have been working on it for the last seven years. We are hopeful that we can save the rocks that remain in the city.”

Conversation series

A series of events called ‘I am Here to Wonder’, is presented by Goethe Zentrum and Moving Images and is set to begin from February 18 and will be hosted every third Thursday of the month for an online audience. The conversation-based ‘baithaks’ will showcase the themes of the film highlighting how rocks are interwoven into the culture of the area.

The first session is on songs and rocks – aptly called Geet Gayan Patharon Ne , which features a multi-genre music ensemble presented by singers Dr Mahesh Joshi, Harini Rao, Keith D’Rosario, Rohit PVNS, Lady Skavya and Sriram Mudambi.

An extract from the oft-quoted line by Goethe — ‘I am here to wonder’, expresses one of his profound intuitions about the relation of human beings to the earth, shares Uma and adds, “We are planning each of these conversations to serve as triggers to remind us of all this. Particularly, by recognising, enjoying and celebrating how our region’s unique natural heritage— the rocks — are linked to its culture. Each session will focus on a different aspect. There will be experts in the particular topic at hand, to lead the way for a participatory experience.”

The session on March 18, 2021, is called A Rocking Cuisine! — a focus on how Dakhni cuisine draws from the local landscape. Specific focus will be on pathar ka gosht and imli. The skill of the s il batta (stone grinder) and the waddars who make them, and a demo of making the chutney of raw tamarind, garlic and red chilli pounded together on the sil batta , will be part of the day’s events.

The series will also feature rocks in art, Dakhani miniature painting, Bidri work and other art and craft forms that show how artists and craftspeople incorporated rocks into their creations. Photographs of rocks, feature films, and shayari on rocks promise to engage viewers over the next seven months. Geet gayan patharon ne, is on February 18 between 6.30 pm and 7.30pm. Register for the event at

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