Khayal Gatha (TBA)

 ●  Hindi ● 1 hr 43 mins

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Rather than imbuing stories about contemporary conditions with epic dimensions (cf. Maya Darpan, 1972; Tarang, 1984), Shahani here addresses the epic forms directly in a film about the Khayal, a form of classical music established in the 18th C., based on the earlier Dhrupad which it then adapted, mobilising elements of other classical and folk literatures and music. For Shahani, the crucial relevance of this music to the cinema resides in its theory of the shruti, the subdivisions between given notes in a raga which eventually yield a continuous scale and prove that ‘you can only name approximations, never absolutes’ (1986). By emphasising sequence rather than discrete notes or the rhythmic cycle, musical elaboration could be based on improvisation so that, like jazz or other musical forms emerging from oppression, it was able to resist all efforts at encoding while remaining free to assimilate the widest range of musical elements from as far as Central Asia, Turkey and Persia. The film merges the history of the Khayal form with several legends associated with it: e.g. the legends of Rani Rupmati (Vasisht) and Baaz Bahadur (Dhillon), Heer- Ranjha, Nala-Damayanti and others (some invented for the film). These legends are then worked into some of the key figurations determining the Khayal narrative, such as the nayika and the object of the address, and the sakhi. A music student (Kapoor) moves through these epochs and legends. The result is a visually stunning narration condensing legend, history and poetry, emphasising hybridity in all cultural practices. The key musical contributions are by some of the foremost musicians from the Gwalior gharana, the oldest of the several that exist, including Krishnarao Shankar Pandit, Sharatchandra Arolkar, Jal Balaporia and Neela Bhagwat. Shahani also uses the dance of Birju Maharaj, India’s top Kathak dancer.
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as Baaz Bahadur
as Rani Rupmati
as Music Student


Film Type:
Colour Info:
Aspect Ratio:
2.39:1 (Scope)