One of those movies that effortlessly transports us to another country, another culture, Pushpendra Singh’s tale of a lovely Kashmiri bride and the ardent park ranger who tries to woo her away from her husband feels at once folkloric and unexpectedly modern.
Inspired by the poetry of 14th Century woman mystic Lalleshwari, and set against the backdrop of the Himalayas, the film begins with Laila’s wedding to a shepherd, who brings her with him to the summer pastures of northern India. There, she immediately catches the eye of Mushtaq, a local forest ranger. He’s a gentle and flirtatious suitor, but undeterred by ever rebuff. And despite her denials, it seems that Laila does enjoy this game of cat and mouse - indeed she may even be the cat in this scenario.
Punctuated by songs, the film marries ethnographic detail with sly (if chaste) eroticism, abrupt switches in subjectivity, and striking forays into allegory and symbolism.
"A sexy, suspenseful love triangle… reveling in the rich cultural specificities of the setting: the hybrid tongues and communal ways of the nomads; the folk songs, heavy with longing, that punctuate the film; and the valley’s steep, breathtaking topography, which intersects with Ranabir Das’s roving camera in hypnotic ways." - Devika Girish, Film Comment
Navjot Randhawa, Sadakkit Bijran, Shahnawaz Bhat, Ranjit Khajuria, Mohammed Yasin
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Please note that VIFF 2020 online films can be viewed in British Columbia only.
Born in Sainyaa, a village in the district Agra, Pushpendra Singh graduated from the Film & Television Institute of India, Pune. He began as an actor and assistant director. In 2014 his directorial debut, Lajwanti, screened in the Berlinale Forum. His second feature film, Ashwatthama, premiered in the New Currents competition at the Busan International Film Festival in 2017. While his hybrid film Maru Ro Moti was shown at IDFA in 2019.
Lajwanti (2014); Ashwatthama (2017); Maru Ro Moti (2019)