London: A British Indian filmmaker’s semi-autobiographical documentary set in his birthplace in the foothills of the Himalayas to explore the tradition of Kumaoni poetry is to premiere in London on Monday.
Lalit Mohan Joshi’s ‘Angwal’, which translates as embrace, sees the Londoner return to the hills of Kumaon in Uttarakhand to explore the poetic roots of his family.
The film, shot by Rangoli Agarwal in the picturesque locales of Nainital, Ranikhet, Almora, Naukuchiatal, Malaunj, Shitalakhet and Sattal, will have its UK premiere at BFI Southbank as part of the South Asian Heritage Month – marked annually between July 18 and August 17 as a celebration of the diverse heritage and cultures that link the UK with the region.
“Combining the spoken word with music that typifies the region, the film captures the responses and deep philosophical worldview of some representative poets in the face of a society undergoing profound change,” explains Joshi.
“The film also presents a bird’s eye view of the high points of Kumaoni poetry as I have interspersed the narrative through poetry, anecdotes and Kumaoni music, composed by Chandrashekhar Tiwari and Harish Pant,” he said.
‘Angwal’ profiles eminent poets such as the legendary Lokratna Pant ‘Gumani’, Shyamacharandutt Pant, Ramdutt Pant, Gauridutt Pande ‘Gaurda’, Charu Chandra Pande, Diva Bhatt, Dev Singh Pokharia and Tribhuwan Giri. Some poems have been featured as songs that provide thematic musical interludes.
“It’s a rare film of poetry and literature, preserved in the rare dialect of Hindi language (Kumaoni),” says lyricist and poet Gulzar in praise of the film.
Award-winning filmmaker Shyam Benegal appreciated the 74-minute documentary’s nostalgic setting.
“It explores the rich culture and the incredible beauty of its landscape that has served as an inspiration to poets, singers and artists of the region in the flowering of their art. Beautiful meadows carpeted with flowers in the shadow of the mighty Himalayas which stand as immortal sentinels to protect these charming foothills with their sky-blue lakes and rushing streams of bubbling rivulets and waterfalls gurgling down to the plains.
“‘Angwal’ is a loving ode to the Kumaon region of the Himalayas which Lalit Mohan Joshi and his ancestors can rightly claim as their own,” said Benegal.
Joshi, the founder of the not-for-profit South Asian Cinema Foundation (SACF) in the UK, takes the reins of the script, narration and direction of the film, which is backed by his writer-historian wife Dr Kusum Pant Joshi’s sketches.