STRINGS-bound by faith

A Travelouge love story.90min,35mm,1:1.85 aspect ratio,Dolby Digital,Colour,English/Hindi.2006.INDIA.

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Location: bombay, India

Son of a soldier, I was born in Sultanganj in Bhagalpur district, Bihar. My childhood days were spent in an earthy rural life. I was deeply inspired by the rich folk culture of Buddha’s own land, Bihar. Right from the beginning, I Grew up with real images of Melas, Ramleelas, Bahuripiyas, incredible rituals, strong religious milieu and the vibrant Mithila Art. Natural calamities like flood and drought gifted unforgettable images. Changing seasons of rural life on the bank of river Ganga matured into a sense of poetry and language. Wonder years passed chasing steam trains that passed through the fields of my native village. Listening to radio programs made for defense personals was my only window to the outside world. With such a treasure of inspirational experiences a story teller evolved. I am a practicing film maker in Bombay today.

On the name of religion dozens of Hindu hermits in saffron robes angrily burned the CDs and posters of 'Strings'.

Hindu hermits burn the effigy of Sanjay Jha, the director of Bollywood film Strings, during a protest in Allahabad, India, Monday, July 17, 2006.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Love in the times of a mela
Utpal Borpujari

Poet Baba Nagarjuna’s writings were revolutionary, to say the least. They had inspired and continue to inspire millions with their non-conformist thoughts, and one among these millions is Sanjay Jha, a former assistant to Hindi cinema’s three biggies— Mahesh Bhatt, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Vidhu Vinod Chopra. So inspired was Jha, an alumni of the National School of Drama, that when he decided to make a film with the mental and physical travels of a few characters surrounding a real-life situation, he decided to zoom in on the last Maha Kumbh mela at Nashik with the underlying theme of the philosophical strains of Baba Nagarjuna’s poems, some of which have been used in the lyrics of the songs.

The result is Strings : Bound By Faith, which, though not a high point in marrying philosophies about life and relationships with the visually rich, verdant locales of Maharashtra’s Nashik area, is a sincere attempt at doing something different from the run of the mill. Compared to Jha’s first film Pran Jaaye Par Shaan Na Jaaye, which borrowed heavily from the theatrical style of presentation only to fall flat both in the box office and in front of critics, his fresh attempt is much more refreshing in the selection, treatment and execution of the storyline, which on the surface, is a simple boy-meets-girl-falls-in-love-with-a-few-twists-in-between narrative, but actually tries to bring in a lot more in terms of looking at Indian way of life through a young westerner’s eyes.

Shot in the midst of the last Maha Kumbh at Nashik and the sea of humanity it beckoned, Strings is quite a courageous effort by the young director, whose shoots had to depend literally on the tumultuous crowd’s mood. Luckily for him, Jha has chosen a cast that does not comprise any stars, and the actors could very easily merge with the crowd, making it much easier for him to handle the shoots.

Kabir Bedi’s son Adam, with his true-blue western looks, quite fits the gangly Warren Hastings he portrays. This Warren Hastings, of course, has nothing to do with the character with the same name from the pages of Imperial India’s history. He is, instead, a young Britisher who, intrigued by the diary of his grandfather who had served in this country, arrives at Nashik just as the Kumbh is about to take off. Through his friend Maya (Sandhya Mridul in another lively performance after Page 3), he meets Krishna (convincingly portrayed by Tannishtha Chatterjee, who has only recently acted in Oscar-winning German director Florian Gallenberger’s Bengali film Shadows of Time), the simple-but-aware daughter of a local temple priest. And slowly, their friendly relationship turns into mutual admiration and then into love as the Kumbh mela reaches its crescendo.

With just six major characters, Jha manages to keep up a smooth flow in the narrative, punctuated with sometimes unnecessary but nevertheless mellifluous music by Assamese heart-throb Zubeen Garg, for whom this is the first go at composing music for Hindi films after having sung a number of songs in films like Fiza and Kaante, apart from composing for around 30 Assamese films and over 100 modern and folk music albums. Having had its global premiere at the recent Osian’s Cinefan, the 7th Festival of Asian Cinema, in New Delhi, the film’s makers— Jha along with Mathew Varghese has produced it under the banner of Phoenix Productions (India)— are looking for a distributor to release this “totally independent” venture at least in the multiplex circuit at which it is primarily aimed.


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