HeadlinesSunday Monitor

Bengali director makes first Galo film; to work with other tribes

Sounak Kar says through his films, he wants to help the tribe preserve its language & tradition

A group of young bird hunters is outsmarted by a bird thief in a Galo village in Arunachal Pradesh. What follows is infighting, an accident and chaos. Sounak Kar’s film Peta Dochcho (Bird Thief), the first film in Galo language, portrays the way of life in an obscure tribal village and the simplicity of the local populace.

The film had its first world premiere at Nandan, Kolkata, on September 22 as part of the 1st World Film Festival organised by the Federation of Film Societies of India.

Sounak Kar. Photo sourced

Kar, an alumnus of Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) in Kolkata, never thought of making a Galo film until he visited Basar, a town in Lepa-Rada district in Arunachal Pradesh, in 2018. The place, which is dominated by the Galo tribe, piqued the young filmmaker’s interest in the culture and tradition of the indigenous people and their stories.

“I was teaching at SRFTI, Itanagar (a temporary campus), in 2017. The students were mostly locals and one of them from the first batch invited me to his village in Basar,” Kar told Sunday Monitor on phone from Basar.

Talking about his Galo student Tumkar Sora, who would later become his assistant and producer of the film, and the tribe, Kar said he was impressed by the cultural activities of the people in Galo villages. This helped the director find local talents for his feature film.

“Galos actively participate in theatres and it is amazing to see how naturally talented the actors are. Immediately, we decided to make a film with these actors. I was intrigued as this would have given me a chance to explore Arunachal and tell the locals’ stories. I always wanted that, to travel and interact with people and make films on them. Tumkar gave me a heads-up on how films are made and marketed in Arunachal,” said Kar.

The 32-year-old filmmaker followed the local model to market the movie in the northeastern state in mid-2019. He travelled to different places in Arunachal Pradesh, including Itanagar, with a projector and screened the film. He said the community halls where the film was shown were packed to the rafters even when tickets cost Rs 300.

Peta Dochcho starts as an ethnographic film but changes into a western vengeance drama, Kar said.

A group of young bird hunters is left perplexed when the trapped birds start vanishing. One member of the group steals the birds because his wife wants to have meat. Also, the traps he makes are not good enough. But no one in the group suspects him, and instead, accuses another member of the group of stealing the birds. During a scuffle, one of the hunters threatens everyone with a dao (local dagger) when the blade accidentally falls off the handle and cuts through the accused man’s hand. This snowballs into a revenge run when the affected man’s family demands a hand for a hand.

The real bird thief, whose act was the genesis of all problems, vows to end the confusion and enmity. He, along with his wife, lays down a plan to avert another crime in the village.

“Galo stories are oral and not many writings are there. The tribe members have realised that they are losing their language, culture and tradition. So, they are taking measures to preserve their history. My agenda is to help them do that through films. So, my story is very local and is based on the practice of bird trapping here. Many boys go into the jungle to lay traps as bird meat is a delicacy… The film received good responses when it was screened at SRFTI, Kolkata,” Kar said, adding that the film was made with shoestring budget as fund was always a problem. The villagers helped the crew members (Kar and Satish Tiriya) with food and accommodation.

Through the film, Kar captures the simple lifestyle of the Galos in their traditional wooden houses, the local administrative system, and the green and hilly landscape.

Tumkar plays the lead. He is also the producer of the film. The other actors are local stage artistes.

Kar is working on another script in Galo and “this time, it will have more local flavour”. His first feature film, This Is Not Funny, in 2013 was in Bengali. However, it was not officially released and was screened privately. When asked whether Peta Dochcho will be released in theatres or on OTT platforms, Kar said the effort is on, “but if we do not succeed, then we will release it on YouTube so that more people can watch the movie”.

The young director wants to explore other districts of Arunachal Pradesh and work with other tribes there. “I have many projects in mind in different places of the state. Also, I have bonded with many people from various tribes who came to attend the courses at SRFTI. Many have expressed their wish to make films in their respective languages,” Kar informed.

Related Articles

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Kindly Disable Ad Blocker