Gurvinder Singh: Zooming into village blues

Thursday, December 15th, 2011 1:00:07 by



Since its debut in the Venice Film Festival, Punjabi film Anhey Ghorhey Da Daan (Alms of the Blind Horse) has been making waves in the film fraternity because of the cultural relish it provides.

Director Gurvinder Singh held a special screening and discussion session at the Safma auditorium in Lahore on the night of December 10. Singh’s new film begins with a scenic view of a dark winter morning in Punjab village across the border. A family wakes up to the news of a house getting demolished in a nearby village. During the session Singh explained that since he is a disciple of Indian director Mani Kaul, his film is on the lines of Kaul’s films and tackles the hard and real issues looming over the subcontinent’s village culture.

Anhey Ghorhey Da Daan is inspired by a book of the same name written by Gurdial Singh. “The first time I read this novel in school, I knew I wanted to make a film based on it,” explains Singh, whose debut film attempts to capture how development has slowly altered the lives of farmers and villagers. After speaking with the author, he found that the book had been based on a town called Bathinda. The shooting of the film was even more interesting as he had used people who lived there, rather than trained actors.

The film revolves around the daily trials a family goes through while living in the village, as well as the city. The father becomes part of village community’s agitation for justice against the demolished house while the main character Melu moves to the city to work as bicycle-rickshaw driver. Singh explains that the title of his film has connection to Hindu mythology and refers to lower castes that ask for alms.

As a film-maker, he says that that film incorporates several schools of thought such as neo-realism t which helped to capture the experience of a lifetime on reel. Long-pauses shown throughout the film help in maintaining a certain rhythm, which accentuates the emotion of the moment. For instance, many scenes show scenic village houses complemented by long bouts of crickets chirping which allow viewers to gain a unique insight into the thoughts of the characters in the film. “The duration of each scene was spontaneous unlike Hollywood films that have everything pre-planned,” says Singh.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2011.

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