DER Documentary

Gone To Pat

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by Mainak Bhaumik
color, 30 min, 2005

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The Patuas, or “Chitrakers,” are a nomadic people who live in the small village of Noya, Midnapore, in India. Though originally Muslim, they now consider themselves neither Muslim or Hindu. Instead, they are more clearly defined by their art. They practice a form of painting called “pat” - richly colored storyboards on scrolls that reflect the ancient myths of their Indian culture. This art form is transmitted from generation to generation - the subjects and styles of the paintings simply changing over the years, encompassing what is culturally appealing at the time. Myths are now being replaced by news stories and social subjects, such as domestic abuse and environmental issues. While keeping religious and folk myths alive, the pats have taken on a new purpose: to raise social awareness.

They perform the musical narratives that accompany the pats for small neighborhood audiences or city folk. These performances and their sales of paintings to tourists allows them to earn a meager living and carry on their work. Gone To Pat shows in detail the Patuas praciticing their art: mixing the paint colors, drawing outlines of the images, and filling the images with “vibrant, bold colors” that are made from only natural materials. As beautiful and colorful as the art it depicts, this film transports the viewer to a picturesque, idyllic region of India, which has an almost mythological quality in itself. Of interest to Asian Studies, the Anthropology of Art, Cultural Change, Anthropology of Religion, Psychology,

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Heard Museum Film Festival, Arizona, 2005
10th RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film, London, 2005
10th Mostra Internacional do Filme Etnografico, Brazil, 2005
Religion Today, International Festival of Cinema & Religion, Italy, 2005
Society for Visual Anthropology/American Anthropological Association Conference, Washington DC, 2005
South Asian International Film Festival, New York, 2005
Festival Interuniversitaire de Films Ethnographique de Montreal, 2006
Association for Asian Studies Conference, San Francisco, 2006

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