Carco Theater, Renton – Saturday, October 24th – 7:00 PM
Songs of the Bards of Bengal, Monalisa Dasgupta, 2014, Bengali / English, 45 min
Logline: Bauls and Fakirs are wandering minstrels in Bengal who sing traditional songs of love, humanity and devotion, with an underlying philosophy that connects the dots between the human body and spiritualism.
Synopsis: India is very rich in folk traditions. The origins of which may go back to hundreds and thousands of years. 60% of India’s population is from rural areas. So, India has imaginably a wide range of folk art forms. However, because of the sheer size of the country, it is very difficult to know how many genres of traditional folk art exist in the country.
Bauls and Fakirs are wandering minstrels in Bengal who sing traditional songs of love, humanity and devotion, with an underlying philosophy that connects the dots between the human body and spiritualism. Their essence is syncretism, as they encompass all religious denominations, castes, creeds, and national barriers. The Baul movement, at its peak in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, has now regained popularity among the population of West Bengal (India) since their music and way of life have been influencing a large segment of Bengali culture.
This documentary presents a brief history of the emergence of Bauls and Fakirs and their spiritual philosophy – as manifested (and hidden) in their music. This film does not get into certain deeper aspects of their practices that incorporate rituals of the mind and body. Instead, we focus on the aspects of loving co-existence between the Hindu Bauls and Muslim Fakirs of the Indian subcontinent where faith does not divide; rather, it unifies the world through “love and peace”. This film will attempt to promote and showcase these rural folk artists by spreading their philosophy through their music and giving them an opportunity to reach out to worldwide audiences.
Monalisa Dasgupta: Writer, Director, Producer
Academic Qualifications: Direction, New York Film Academy Production, Hollywood Film Institute M.S in Economics, Penn State University, USA, M.S in Operations Research, Penn State University, USA M.B.A in Marketing, I.M.M, Kolkata B.Sc. Honors, Calcutta University. Training and Certification in Script Writing, Direction, Production, Light and Sound, Editing and Music Mixing from Irvine Valley College, Saddleback College, Hollywood Film Institute and New York Film Academy, USA.
Director’s Statement: As a filmmaker who was born and raised in West Bengal, India, I have been exposed to the songs of Bauls and Fakirs throughout my life. Also, I personally know many Bauls and Fakirs in India and Bangladesh. My research on Fakirs led me to Kushtiya, Bangladesh, the birthplace of the stalwart of Fakirs -Lalon Fakir.
At a time when global tensions are at an all time high with faith-based extremism and intolerance, a portrayal of loving co-existence between the Hindu Bauls and Muslim Fakirs of the Indian subcontinent is an example where faith does not divide, but unifies through a search of a common identity through philosophy. Interestingly, despite the fact that the Baul-Fakir philosophy is mysterious, deep and dense, it is accessible to the common people. Besides the global connotation of inter-faith harmony, the topic is interesting in itself. While a Western lens makes it academically interesting, Eastern thinkers and common people alike take a fascination toward Bauls and Fakirs and engage with them as listeners of their songs as well as students of their philosophy.
Through my upbringing, love for music, curiosity about the philosophy, and deep exposure to practitioners and philosophers of these cults, I wanted to make this film as a humble endeavor of promoting and showcasing these rural folk artists by giving them an opportunity to reach out to worldwide audiences.
The Decision, Joydeep Das, 2015, Bengali / English, 59 min
The Decision (Siddhanto) is a feature narrative based on the experiences of parents who has migrated to the US to live permanently with their children. The film focuses on their expectations and the reality of starting to live in a foreign land at an older age. Interactions with their children and the society at large leads to self introspection of the characters and their vulnerabilities.
Joydeep Das is a self taught Seattle based hobbyist filmmaker . Siddhanto- The Decision (production date Feb 15,2015)is his second movie after Roopkothar Sondhane – In Search of a Fairytale which was released in 2013 and featured at the Seattle South Asian Film Festival. The cast and crew of both the movies are amateurs from the Seattle Indian Community. The story, script, cinematography and music design of both the productions are also done by Joydeep.
Director’s Statement: Films are made in dreams.