Theatre stalwart Anamika Haksar, who has more than 40 years of experience making her directorial debut with Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Jaa Riya Hoon. The Film is about the migrants of old Delhi.
My country India is full of stories and dreams, retained mostly by its illiterate population. During my walks through the city of old Delhi, I noticed that with the changing landscape of the city memories were fading away. Anyone below 30 was in a state amnesia, history and stories wiped out of their minds by an urban smog.
The walled city of Shahjahanabad has always held a fascination for me. As my ancestors were Kashmiri migrants, we were told that when they ran from Kashmir they settled in this old wall city. I would visit these places as a child, then later as a theatre person, performing in some of its spaces like the Delhi Public Library. Later I returned as a daughter-in-law of the old city. The amalgamation of history and a vibrant migrant culture gave rise to this film.
I started setting up interviews and conversations with about 75 migrant workers – Rickshaw pullers, leaders, vendors, pickpockets, band people etc. my colleague Lokesh Jain, a reputed actor and passionate lover of Old Delhi, started documenting the dreams, fears, emotions and events of these people. Sarita another colleague documented the dreams of women both domestic and factory workers. This documentary structure was integrated into a fictional structure to create a feature film.
We have a “Nostalgic” Old Delhi wafting through the film through the heritage walks of Akash Jain. At the same time, the underbelly of the old city emerges through Patru the pickpocket’s walk. We see the visual contradictions created by a fast moving urban culture in an ancient city.
Dreams are an essential part of the film. In the beginning, the dreams of the three protagonists i.e. Pickpocket, Loader and Sweetmeat vendor mingle and spill into each other causing much mirth. However, in the end, the dreams take us into a sub-conscious space of the migrants living in the walled city. It unveils the fear in which ordinary people live as also the deep longing of abundance and beauty.
To my mind, this is the first attempt in India to make a feature film like this. We would like to celebrate the diversity and tolerance of our people, who live through a nightmare of prolonged hours of work, poor wages, insecurity, illness, and inflation. We would like to recover the real face behind the tinsel of the pink artifice of commercial films across the globe.
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