Dir: Prantik Basu | India, Doc 58′
In Bela, a small village in North Eastern India, time stands still. Lulled by its languorous rhythms the past meets the present in a remote landscape. Filmmaker Prantik Basu creates an evocative picture of tradition where dance, music and ritual is very much part of everyday life.
Avoiding any kind of narrative structure Basu’s camera drifts into reverie and slo-mo sequences, creating a carnival for the senses where vibrant colours of lime green, scarlet and indigo purple meet the softer hues of an eau de nil dusk. When the working day is over women paint delicate creamy ribbons in the sandy ground, each crowned with a crimson centre. Night will see the men enacting a mysterious traditional trance-like masked dance, the Chhau. Mesmerising, fierce and feral, the children scream in delight as the village is transformed into a theatre.
Two years in the making and edited in consecutive days, Bela is a sensory mood piece, a valuable record of people ostensibly living in harmony, everyone calmly aware of their role in the scheme of things. If ever there was a picture of serenity it is here in this land-locked corner where Bela gleams like a jewel in the dust. MT
VISIONS DU REAL 2021 | NYON SWITZERLAND