India as you will all know (and if you don’t, here’s an education for you) is the world’s largest film maker and film market. Bollywood is famed throughout the West for its lavish sets and wonderful dance routines. Rajinikanth is India’s biggest star and has made inroads into markets far beyond India. There are even actors who have made it into the political scene of India. So, of course, being a film maker myself, I had to actually go to the movies while in India…
So it was, while wandering around Shillong, when I saw this poster, everywhere!
Who said advertising never worked? Pretty chicks on the poster, I can read the title of the film and more importantly, the venue is plastered on the poster. So off I went to the pictures to see the Khasi film, ‘Dashisha’.
I love going to the movies, especially in a foreign clime. If I get to see a local film, I get an insight into the culture of that particular area. A film shows the hopes and dreams of the local populace, what they aspire too, what is glamorous for them, what they want to achieve. I also get to see the reaction of the audience, an important thing to see what they like and dislike. A cinema is a great social leveler. No matter how rich or poor you are, a cinema is one of these things that everyone goes to. No matter what your social status is, you sit in the same seats, surrounded by left over snacks and (outside the UK) wafting cigarette smoke. Simple things like local customs and dress can also be ascertained by going to the cinema In fact, if you want to educate yourself about a people and their culture, then chick away the books and head to the picture house. Especially in a country like India, with its vibrant, localised film industries, a window will open to another world.
So what did I think of ‘Dashisha’? Of course I did not understand the movie’s language, although the movie was simple enough for me to understand the story, always a plus point. While a foreigner cannot hope to understand every twist and turn in the plot, a good movie transcends linguistic boundaries, which this was able to do.
I did not like the main characters themselves, I thought they were a bit wishy-washy, and I wish that there was more focus on the ‘bad guys’, as they were far more interesting while on the screen. I loved the songs, I thought they were great (in fact, I bought the album!) and really enjoyed seeing aspects of Khasi cuture that were only read about/inferred, such as their matriarchal customs and seeing their traditional dress. It was also interesting to see the inside of Khasi homes, as the director obviously used real locations rather than a studio.
Overall, I was happy to see the film. While the story did not resonate with me, the experience was fantastic, and I really can appreciate the effort this director put into the film. It is not easy making a feature length flick, and you can see the passion that was needed to bring this together. The director managed to wangle some fantastic locations and using his limited resources managed to theatrically release this film, with very little official backing. It was also a a fascinating insight into the culture of the Khasi people, far more educational than a dusty book sitting on some library shelf or some dull anthropologists lecture.
Movies, an experience for the mind as well as the soul 😉