Raipur Kite Market on Uttarayan eve.
Mise-en-scène Patang: Market.
Kites are big business in Ahmedabad. The preparation happens all year round and reaches the climax on the night before Uttarayan. That night, the main kite markets are open all night long.
It takes the whole of India to send the kites up in the sky in Ahmedabad. The special bamboo that holds the kite together is grown in Bengal and Assam, the paper is made in Kerala, the thread is made in Tamil Nadu, the people who treat the best thread with starch and make the best kites come from Lucknow and Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh. After Ahmedabad, they move on to other cities with festivals, like Jaipur and come back the next year.
And within Ahmedabad, it takes people from different parts of the city to put a kite together. There's one community to cut the paper, another to paste it all together and one can't function without the other.
The ace kite fliers have their kites ordered from the master kite makers while the rest buy it off the street by the dozens. Buying the kite is also an event. Every one here is an expert, armed with skills and techniques passed down from an earlier generation and honed on the rooftops, each year.
But why do they buy so many kites?
It's because the average time a kite is up in the air can be a few minutes only. The sheer number of people flying and cutting your kites, the sudden gusts of wind take their toll. An average kite flier on an Ahmedabad roof runs through a few dozen kites that day.
Mise-en-scène Patang: Here, everybody is equal. Rooftop Ahmedabad.
Can there be a better stage than the rooftops of Ahmedabad to make a movie set in Ahmedabad? The cool breeze that blows over the city brings the entire city on to the roof tops. The rich and the poor, the young and the old, the Hindus and the Muslims, they all come together to share a buzz that will make hives full of bees jealous. The walled city, opens up to the sky.
Mise-en-scène Patang: All dressed up and ready to go to Berlin!
Patang is premiering at the Berlin International Film Festival in the 41st Berlinale Forum. Screening times: Feb. 12 at 16:30 CineStar 8. Feb. 13 at 20:00. Cubix 9. Feb. 15 at 22:30. Arsenal. Feb. 17 at 13:45 CineStar 8.
Meanwhile, here on Indian Road Romeo, the trip to the market continues as people select the best cowboy hats to battle the sun.
Face de guerre. When you cut someone's kite, it sometimes helps to be anonymous.
And finally Radha has a gift for all the cowboys on the roof and for the movie Patang, in Berlin! All the best.
Aakash, who stars in Prashant Bhargava's Patang (to be screened at Berlin Film Festival 2011)
Mise-en-scène Patang: The Shades
Prashant Bhargava's Patang is set around the Uttarayan festival. The characters and most of the actors are from this part of Ahmedabad. All of them are veterans of the intense battles in the sky, during the festival.
The battles in the skies of Ahmedabad between kite fliers can become as intense as the dog fights of fighter pilots. Staring at the sky, looking for killer strings and kites against the sun throughout the day can strain even an hawk-eye. That's one reason you need shades and the other reason is style. Because the whole city is going to be on the roof top and if you are the killer kite flier of the day, you better look like a hero. Like Aakash (above) who stars in the movie and like these boys shopping for the perfect pair of goggles.
Everyone here is a hero and the Ahmedabad man looks his best on his rooftop slashing the twine left, right and centre.
Prashant Bhargava's first feature film Patang (to be screened at Berlin Film Festival 2011), is set in Ahmedabad old city during the course of Uttarayan Kite Flying Festival. The streets and rooftops of Old Ahmedabad's Khadiya and Raipur provides the Mise-en-scène, the elements of visual style, that define the movie and will probably define how the world will see Ahmedabad once the movie hits the screen later this year.
The film was shot a couple of years back but the colours, the magic and frenzy of the kite flying remains the same. Over the next few days, I will be posting images of the gallis, rooftops and people of the locality where the film was shot and also of the cast and crew of the film.
On The India Tube, the travel magazine from W+K, Delhi, a photo story from Shahpur, Ahmedabad about the Dori or Thread being prepared on the footpath, ahead of the Kite Festival or Uttarayan during Makar Sankranti. See the slide show here.
Style Bhais Of Kutch. Part 1
Indians are the best dressed in the world. That is, if you come from interior Kutch and yet to adopt the boring, uniform, western pant-shirt or the 20th Century Saree Wrap or Salwar Kameez. However, it's only a matter of time before they start dressing like you and me. Progress, a canal carrying Narmada water is already here. Four lane National Highways are already here. The nomads will soon be farming all year round and Star Plus will be dictating what they will be wearing, soon. It's probably convenient and easier for people to fit in once they shed your local identity.
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