Kamal Swaroop

Extending Arts Practice

Grant Period: Over ten months

Filmmaker Kamal Swaroop received two grants from IFA earlier. The first was a seed grant to research the feasibility of holding a series of interdisciplinary workshops on the life and works of the pioneering filmmaker, Dadasaheb Phalke. The second grant enabled him to conduct workshops with students and young art professionals in the five cities connected to the life of Phalke. This new dissemination grant enables Kamal to share the experiences and stories generated at the workshops with a larger public. He will make five short experimental films, a two-hour documentary and redesign the Phalke Factory website. Held in Nasik, Baroda, Kolhapur, Pune and Mumbai, each of the workshops commenced with a screening of Phalke’s films and a presentation of abstract narratives from Kamal’s manuscript on Phalke’s life. Kamal filmed the workshops extensively, which resulted in approximately 350 hours of video footage. His recordings covered the complete process of information dissemination, the personal memoirs of workshop participants, the research and fieldwork for the Phalke stories developed by workshop participants, the ambience of the locations, and interviews with writers, painters and the older generation in these cities. While developing characters for their stories, the participants became characters in the meta-narrative of Kamal’s documentation, which traces the influence of Phalke as an artist within a contemporary context.

Kamal will now review and reconstruct the images, texts and video into five short experimental films, each of which will be woven around one story text from one of the cities. Each film will be set against the background of a specific event or the writer of the text. For example, the film on Nasik will follow the story of Radhika, a student of the school of architecture, who has a recurring dream that Nasik is flooded and she and her mother are trying to save people from drowning. She relates her personal story to Mandakini, Phalke’s daughter, who acted as the child Krishna in ‘Kaliya Mardan’ (1917). In her story, Radhika explores Mandakini’s trauma when her father commands her to jump into the water to picturise the scene where the child Krishna is victorious over the underwater demon, Kaliya.

Kamal will also compress the 300 hours of footage into a two-hour documentary film. The final outcome of this grant will be a multimedia website for educational and communication purposes. Going beyond its current wikipedia format, the website will be entirely redesigned to include video clips and pages from Kamal’s manuscript on Phalke. It will also be enhanced to include links to old songs and films from 1913 to 1944, working stills and posters.