(Taking the Horse to Eat Jalebis)
Hindi | Film | Director: Anamika Haksar
This is my belated first post about experiences at the Kochi Biennale in December 2018. I am starting not at the beginning of my journey there, but rather with this striking film whose images haven’t really left my mind.
A whirlwind of images that cycle from dreams to reality as we are drawn into the lives, desires, of remembering and forgetting of residents of Old Delhi. A woman describes having eaten only one chapati in a number of days and then the constant ache in her stomach as she sorts rubbish, picking up a tiny boat figurine as she talks of her father who worked as a fisherman. The smallest snapshots of dreams that touch on issues greater than life. The woman who dreams of lying with her female friend and them laughing, joyful. The man who thinks of his tribal community from his homeplace Jharkhand and the injustices committed against Adivasis. The labourer who imagines his boss as a lizard in a jar while being verbally abused by him, the woman who dreams of her and her husband in fine clothes, sipping cool drinks. Mr Jain’s famous tour is hijacked by the pickpocket played by Ravindra Sahu, whose use of physical theatre on the screen is striking. His alternative tour that weaves through the spice markets, to an old woman preparing aloo methi, where the workers eat sabzi, dal, chawal for 10 rupees. The story of the woman and the pin, who as a child would pick up every grain of rice that fell with a pin in order to eat it. Walking with a foreign tourist who doesn’t want to hear the stories of the woman whose son died when he fell in a well or the man whose father was a communist and suffered the consequences. A doorway that closes, hiding the face of a boy. Police targeting the vulnerable. In a fighting ring with authority. Failure of the health system. Set up of a ‘temporary hospital’. A woman who has been repetitively abused, treatment with special water and lighting of a lamp. To the ‘real’ tour with fresh meat and bread, jalebi. The alternative tour with jeera water and the offer of the 10 rupee meal amongst the locals, denied by all. The pickpocket turned tour guide holds the gaze of a young woman. Begins to reminisce about love that was lost. No linearity but an intoxicating swirl with the use of animation and paintings. Every shot striking and provoking, continuing to swirl long after the screen is out.
Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Jaa Riya Hoon screened recently at Sundance. It has not been picked up for a general release at the time of writing, but I did read that Haksar and team are hoping to take it to the theatre.