ShaktiMa no Veh
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by Jayasinhji Jhala
color, 60 min, 2006
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The Goddess Shaktima is the most popular goddess in the region of Saurashtra known as Jhalavad. This documentary presents the story of Shaktima as performed by the tradictional muslim Bhavai troupe led by Amrit Kalu Rudatala of Kankavati village. Baisabgarh village, sponsored this event on July 11th, 2004.
Shaktima is beloved of all castes and her story is sung, recited, painted and performed in the many towns and villages. Known as the maker of Jhalavad, as the powerful mother, and the protector of children, she rides the great lion, is the subduer of the demon Babrabhoot and weds the warrior hero Harpal, himself an incarnation of the God Shiv. Large and small temples to her stand all over the land and celebrate her glory.
The play presents Hindu notions of time: cosmic time, legendary time, historical time and contemporary time. The Goddess is presented in many apsects, as demoness, as queen, as maker of polity, as mother and protector of children, and finally as the earth mother herself. The hero Harpal demonstrates his ability to contest the will of the divine, subdue demonic foes and establish a royal lineage that gives order, security, and stablity to the multicaste and multi-religious society of this land.
Shot in accordance with local norms, the film presents the play in its entirety with the viewer positioned frontally as a Hindu worshipper before a puja shrine. It shows the use of song, prayer, poetry and speech to demonstrate the variety of speech acts and to illustrate that Gujarati, Sanskrit and Dingal langauages are locally understood. This underlines that even peasants are multilingual in this area.
This film will be useful to students of film, theater, music, religion and anthropology and to students of Indic poetry and aesthetics.
Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Association for Asian Studies Conference, Boston, MA, 2007
Association for Asian Studies Conference, Boston, MA, 2008
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Tragada Bhavai: A Rural Theater Troupe of Gujarat