Released early this year, Zikr Uss Parivaash Ka is the product of the acclaimed documentary filmmaker Nirmal Chander Dandriyal; exploring the life of Begum Akhtar. India’s last courtesan and one of the most fondly remembered singers of the 20th century. The documentary is an ode to the poetry that the Mallika-e-Ghazal has lived on as.
Here’s what the man behind the lens had to say.
Tell us a little about Zikr uss parivash ka.
Zikr uss parivaash ka is a 64-minute long documentary film on Lucknow’s last courtesan Begum Akhtar. The film is produced by Sangeet Natya Academy, New Delhi, and was conceptualised in 2014 for the centenary celebration of Begum Akhtar’s life. It is a visual narrative, evocative of the Mallika-e-Ghazal’s life and music.
How did you juxtapose music into the narrative of the story?
My art director and my camera person have a part to play in this. So in our attempt to evoking the song, we listened to it thoroughly and tried to bring out the emotion in them.
For example the lyric, ‘Humra kaha manu oh raja ji …Door desh mat jaana…Sautan k lambe lambe baal’ was brought out by the brilliant Kathak dancer, Ruchi Khare who choreographed the whole sequence. So that was certain songs were brought out in the film that way.
We were also lucky enough to have found one lovely old and abandoned building in Lucknow. It had a beautiful haveli sort of feel with big columns and stained glass windows. We sort of made the song echo in it; we put a huge gramophone in the middle of the courtyard in an evocative way to show her music being left behind as her legacy.
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