Gunehar diaries #6 – the wrap up post

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The Shop Art Art Shop Residency and Exhibition got over on 14th Jun. I returned to Goa last evening. And it’s time for a wrap up post. I still remember how I had felt first, on reaching the village  – “now that I am in Gunehar, I wonder what stories I am going to end up with, in the next three weeks” (quote from diary #1). As it turned out eventually, I didn’t end up making a story on any of my first ideas (house with the best view, village life, struggle of artists etc. – diary #2). Even the sniper project that I started in the second week (diary #3) did not lead to anything exciting other than a dramatic fight scene (which I started showing as a story in itself, but gradually just retained the most interesting parts of that video for a jingle that I made later). Diary #3 also mentions a “juicy conversation” (quoting below) and that finally did become a story [you can watch it here on 3 Minute Stories’ Facebook page].

…villager approached me…  …shared a lot about his life. Pretty juicy stuff for first meeting – how his first wife had an affair and dumped him, the reasons why he doesn’t like his father, a foreigner who has promised to adopt his children and take them to England and things like that.

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Made DharmSadhu click a portrait of mine with a super-fake smile, one day; to be used for “Artist Profiles” posters (that never got made eventually).

The stories that I eventually did create and screened have their origins in my thought process by the end of second week –  “…find one specific subject in each generation category and then shoot him / her + do a bit of interview to put together something that at least resembles a story”.

The first story that I finished editing was on Maniram (sharing it below). To read up more on how this story happened, you can visit my blog on 3 Minute Stories.

By the time I wrote my last diary from Gunehar, I already had two more stories ready + 1 super duper cute jingle. You can watch Indira and Chhangu’s story on Facebook (the video description on FB also explains how the story happened). It’s a simple story about a woman and her hopes and desires from her teenage son.

The exhibition part of the residency was only two days away. So I started tidying up my shop (this residency was not only about making documentaries, but also about managing a space like a multimedia installation). I am not a space person, so it took me considerable time and effort. I am thankful to Eeint (the bottle guy from diary #5) who helped me with some good ideas about setting up the space.

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3 Minute Stories Shop in Gunehar.

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Because I didn’t like a single picture of my shop taken by anyone (after it was setup), I finally had to direct a photograph myself, with biwi as my cameraman. Biwi had come over for few days in the third week, then left for a trek in Manali and then, joined me again in the last 5 days of the programme.

The final week was more about screening my stories every time someone came to my shop. I also found enough time to edit a new story (the juicy one, mentioned above).

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My village multiplex offered a variety of seating arrangements 😛 Maniram – protagonist of one story, stares from the screen at Shivang – the kid who features in another story.

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Children were frequent visitors to my shop. The Italy Holioke was their favourite screening.

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I would also go out once in a while during power-cuts (that were rare) or during rains to make images.

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Ran into a guy who said he worked in Goa for many years, selling tshirts. He has a German girlfriend who wants to invest in a cafe / guest-house in Gunehar. He took me to his house and made tea for me as I clicked a picture of his niece and her neighborhood friend.

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Terra’s landlord spends moments of solitude in his house, as it rains outside.

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He introduces me to his new baby goat, after the rain stops.

Two days before the event / residency ended, there was a dance programme by the villagers and a trial Gaddi fashion show. There would be an even bigger function on the closing night, but I didn’t take any pictures then; so sharing the ones from this prior evening.

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The hero of my 3 Minute Jingle from Gunehar.

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The gathering was 3 to 4 times bigger on the closing ceremony two days later.

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Gaddi fashion show models await their turn.

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Not everything happens on stage. Some happen under it too. Especially for those who can fit in! 🙂

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The young audience.

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The old audience.

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After his own performance, God and His mother enjoy performances by others.

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Ken’s 360 degree camera tries venturing into new territories, during the Gaddi fashion show.

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A true God always finds His devotees.

Unfortunately, after all the amazing time that I had in Gunehar (sans the falling sick and accidental formatting of memory card once), the biggest shit that happened to me, was during the closing ceremony. 🙁

Maniram’s story had just started when 4T decided to change the angle of the screen. Yes, in the middle of the screening with thousands of villagers watching. I am sure 4T just wanted more people to get a good view. But everyone who has set up a home projector that has couple of wires going from here to there, knows that it’s a fragile setup and any lose wire can shut off the screening. While in a home setup, that’s fine because it usually doesn’t take more than 5 minutes to sort things out, in a public screening, it can lead to chaos. In my case, because of the abrupt and unplanned change in the way the screen was put up, I had to readjust my projector and in the process, the sound cable probably got loose from some point (and there were too many points). Sound stopped. And I could not figure out why, for about a minute. So yes, the screening stopped. So did my heart. 4T soon announced on mic that because most villagers had anyway seen my movies, it was ok.  And I guess it was indeed ok for many. But boy, what a heart-breaking moment that was for me (I can still feel the pain). I was in pain and I was angry. For many hours following that, I kept wondering how amazing it would have been, had 4T not tried adjusting the screen in the middle of a screening. But then, was it really his fault? He just forgot to take into account the fragility of the whole setup when he decided to do what he did. He only wanted more people to watch the screening properly.

The local singers took over the stage immediately and I zoned out, unable to focus on anything. I am sure majority of the villagers had indeed already seen the stories in some screening or the other, as 4T had rightly said. But I also knew many in the audience had not. And in any case, this was not about who had seen the stories and who had not. For me, it was simply the biggest gathering of audience who were watching it and that’s a difference experience altogether.

Eeint saw me dissolving in the background, and could read my expressions. He hung out with me for a while. Some villagers offered booze and I tried to feel normal again. But in spite of trying so for few hours, (I even went up the stage, dressed like a Gaddi and did a bit of drunk dance), I finally realized I had to deal with the fiasco on my own. I had to let it sink in, stop blaming anyone and move on. Shit happens all the time and that evening was just my unlucky day. While the rest of the artists partied till late night, I chose to skip my dinner and went to sleep. Sleep came very late. It was the worst possible way the festival could have ended for me.

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During the last night, someone took away this chap’s cap and placed it on my head to make me look like a complete Gaddi. We did run into each other later and he got back his cap.

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Real kids playing with painted kids in Gunehar. Artwork by Kaki and a team of Kangra miniature artists.

‘Where had you disappeared last night?’, Kaki asked me the next day. She added that everyone had missed me and all of that. I wondered if I should make an excuse. I didn’t. “I was not in a great mood yesterday”, I gave her an honest reply. I think she understood.

The bigger question is, does one fiasco really take away all the wonderful things that I experienced during my 4 week stay in Gunehar? No, it doesn’t.

So to sum it up, I would love to wrap up my Gunehar diary on a happy and positive note. My stay was about:

  • back to back hard work, doing something that I really liked doing;
  • creating films on purely personal stories for the first time;
  • screening my Gunehar stories for several days, both for villagers and visitors (who often complimented – but then I never take compliments too seriously – most people do it out of politeness anyway, don’t they? 🙂 )
  • consuming amazing food on most days (and a crazy variety) – thanks to my (now) friends from Goa;
  • getting to see, meet and interact with so many different kinds of artists;
  • McDowell’s No. 1 every single night :D;
  • and last but not the least, growing up some more, as an individual – with a new life experience.

May life be interesting always. Full of things to write and talk about, like this! Over and out for now!