‘Confusing’ Road movie, a decade in the making, to be screened at Biennale

KBF to show artist-filmmaker Babu Eshwar Prasad’s Gaalibeeja as part of Artists’ Cinema package


Press Release

‘Confusing’ Road movie, a decade in the making, to be screened at Biennale

KBF to show artist-filmmaker Babu Eshwar Prasad’s Gaalibeeja as part of Artists’ Cinema package

Kochi, Feb 21: An extension of his canvas onto the cinema screen, Gaalibeeja (2014) – the debut feature by noted painter Babu Eshwar Prasad – is as known to film audiences for its arresting visuals and critique of modernity as for having baffled the Censor Board.

With its sparse dialogue, existential concerns and fragmented non-linear narratives, the Kannada film is intended as an homage to the ‘road movie’ genre with “the road itself the protagonist”. It was initially denied a screening certificate after being deemed ‘too confusing’.

Literally translating to ‘Wind seed’, Gaalibeeja will be shown in a special package, titled ‘Cinema from the Sub-continent’, on Wednesday (Feb 22) at the Pavilion, Cabral Yard, at 6.30 pm. A Q&A session follows the screening. Films in the package, conceptualised by the Kochi Biennale Foundation, will be screened intermittently as part of the ‘Artists’ Cinema’ programme.

“Just as the seed travels in the wind, my movie is about a journey. I have always had this fascination with journeys. I have also been most attracted to road movies. The road movie is the ultimate ‘vehicle’ for a character on a journey of reflection and change,” Prasad said.

While it reflects the works of filmmakers Jim Jarmusch, and Abbas Kiarostami, the film is at its core a dialogue with the iconic film Alice in the Cities (1977) by German auteur Wim Wenders – one of the first road movies Prasad saw. “I can never forget the impression it made on me,” said Prasad, who was first exposed to world cinema as a printmaking student at MSU-Baroda.

“The desire to make a film has been a longstanding one. As an artist devouring good cinema, I wanted to pursue filmmaking as an art form. All those years of watching have helped crystallise my ideas on the stories I want to tell and the way I want to tell them,” said the Bengaluru-based artist, who had been shooting footage during car journeys along the featured road since 2006.

Seen through the eyes of a civil engineer, the 96-minute wholly self-financed movie is about his encounters during a road-widening project in an unnamed village and along the way. “Many characters in the movie are inspired by real life people whom I have met or have known. In that way, this is a very personal, even autobiographical, endeavour,” Prasad said.

It derives also from his artistic practice as a painter of landscapes. “Landscape has been my central preoccupation in my painting. It is a loaded genre which speaks of many things at the same time and I want to look at all its dimensions. Most of all I want to be able to witness the changes it has been undergoing – not as a direct statement, but as a more understated and complex process underway,” Prasad said.

“As an artist, one always works with the still frame. With cinema, one has the possibility of speaking to movement and sound. I wanted to capture the moving landscape,” he added.

ENDS

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