Pre release in Hasthapanahalli

Date: April 16, 2017

Location: Hasthapanahalli, a small Hakki Pikki settlement mid way between Shimoga and Davangere.

Occasion: The prelease of Sikkidre Shikari, Illdidre Bhikari (Bird Trapper or Beggar?) the documentary film, based on travels with the nomadic Hakki Pikki tribe over the past many years.

Primary audience: The hero and heroine of the film – Shanmari Ajja, a 106 year old Hakki Pikki and his wife the sprightly Shivangi whose energy would put all us “younger” ones to shame!

Scenes from the Screening:

# The special indoor screening organised for the First Couple who are watching the film on the laptop inside their sparse but clean little hut, hot and stuffy but warm with the delight of watching themselves tell the story of their people and listening to their kinsmen and kinswomen from other settlements weave their own tales of how life was and has come to be. Their chuckling at the right moments, approving and vigorous head shakes at others when other protagonists are protesting the policies of the government, singing along with quavering voices when their songs come and finally after the film calling the blessings of their beloved Goddess Yellamma with their rough calloused hands on our heads…..our prized award for the work of two years.

Couldn’t help but cry.

# The chaotic outdoor screening under the Peepul Tree where time acquires another meaning. All the young men rushing in offering to help and then rushing out saying they will come back. Forgetting to mention when. One boy goes to get a dhoti to put up as a screen, disappears to come back after an hour triumphantly holding one up only to it grabbed back by its owner who was running behind him. The extension cord that goes missing. The sound box the refuses to cooperate. As always. The weather that suddenly gets cool and breezy almost threatening rain.  Finally the hero who saves the day – a deaf and dumb boy who manages to bring everything together. The dhoti, the extension chord and a plug put together with two exposed wires and twigs. We are told he continues to dance long after everybody else has stopped and the music stops playing!  The screening gets off to a successful start. Even if two hours late. The peepul leaves rustle into spontaneous applause every now and the night air erupts with cat calls and whistles every time a familiar face comes onto the screen and punchy dialogues are delivered with the usual Hakki Pikki elan. Proceedings come to an abrupt halt with the final power cut that went on longer than usual. But who really cares?? In community releases it is the process that is enjoyed not the product we comfort ourselves!

#  “Naa ninna mareya laare” ( I will never forget you!!) loudly sing some happy inebriated old women as the audience start dispersing into the dark and we are packing up. “Old hags who don’t know how to control themselves” grumbles an embarrassed Suresh the local leader who has been helping us.

We can’t help but laugh.

A fairly successful Easter Sunday release we would say 🙂


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