'Kalakar' is the Hindi word for an artist. An artist's life is never an easy one. But if there is not even recognition and a certain degree of reverence to live by, then an artist falls into this perpetual ditch of despair which is beyond explanation.
The documentary Kalakar is a tribute to those very artists who go about their entire life without the slightest amount of recognition. The Band Parties belong to this category.
The documentary speaks of one such Bandmaster Vakilu Khan from Shamli, Uttar Pradesh. Vakilu talks about his journey and provides interesting analogies such as a dancing peacock and the metaphoric wings that his Band Vardi gives him. Like many other Band people, Vakilu is not a full-time Bandmaster. He resorts to fields as the harvest season begins. Vakilu also rues the fact that, the next generation is not interested in the traditional work. Vakilu says that the daily wage work has replaced the traditional mindset of the younglings as the latter provides more dignity than the former.
The subject of the documentary is a compelling one. It reminds us of the people who just go past us without actually affecting our peace of mind. These artists of the road who sing along when we go through the journey of our life, have been relegated to the perimeter so far off the society that they don't exist anymore.
The treatment of the subject is what makes this documentary a must watch. Though I wish there were more moments of silence and stillness instead of the overhead narration that distracts at times, the makers manage to pull off the idea just fine. Also, the editing could have been terser as some shots, like 'crotch scratching' which doesn't belong to any particular class or people, feel unnecessary and don't seem to add any value to the documentation.
Having said that, this brilliant piece of documentation leaves you filled with compassion and profound insights. I wish there were more to it, at 13.50 minutes of runtime it feels short.
The efforts of the makers of this piece highlight the importance of the power of the visual medium. And it looks like, here they have used their power properly in depicting the hardships of the unsung heroes of our world.
Here you can watch the video:
Documentary - Kalakar (Artist)
Directed & Edited by - Sheshank Kishore Mishra
Camera - Ehtisham Ali Siddiqui
Script - Preeti Tiwari
Production House - abcfilms.org