Eminent theatre director Anamika Haksar’s debut film Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon celebrates human resistance and perseverance with grace 

The film promises to take you deeper into the inner life of characters from the streets of Old Delhi, who we usually ignore, and provokes thought and empathy

author_img Priyanka Chandani Published :  10th June 2022 04:35 PM   |   Published :   |  10th June 2022 04:35 PM
Still from Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon

Still from Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon

18th-century American writer Mark Twain said that the secret source of humor is not joy but sorrow. And eminent theatre director Anamika Haksar substantiates this philosophical platitude with her award-winning film Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon. The film is set to release in theatres on June 10.

When dreams meet the reality

Starring veteran theatre artistes Ravindra Sahu, Raghubir Yadav, Lokesh Jain and K Gopalan, the film follows four main characters - a pickpocket, a snacks vendor, a laborer-activist, and a city guide. These actors have closely worked with about 350 street people to create what seems like a surreal tale of truth. Anamika tells us that the film is a result of seven years of documentation of the lives of the street people of Old Delhi – beggars, pickpockets, loaders, small-scale factory workers, street singers and street vendors. The film moves from one community story to the other while each scene brings another hard reality of the city narrated through humour. And these stories are bound together in the form of dreams – a delightful combination of dreams and realities. And to our surprise, those dreams are of the real people which Anamika’s team gathered by interviewing and working with them for three years.

“I chose the historical part of Old Delhi and Lokesh Jain, who also plays the guide in the film, has worked with those street vendors and kids and he has interviewed about 70 people. I gave him some questions to know about their dreams and those dreams we gave to the people who are shown in the film. Everyone was like, ‘oh yeh to meri hi kahani hai’ (Oh, it’s exactly my story),” says the director who planned 80 percent of the film’s setting, and the rest are candid moments captured on the camera. “It’s a very crowded place and you really don’t know what’s going to happen next. The more the planned we were, the better the shots came,” she confesses. 

What’s in the name?

Even if you have grown up in Delhi and lived your life there or claim yourself to have explored the capital city well, you still might not know the real charm of the city – Shahjahanabad of Old Delhi. Offering a multilayered narration, you will see every inch of the local flavour unfold as you watch Anamika’s film. Starting from the mix of Mughal and Persian architecture to the amalgamation of Urdu and Persian language and much more, the film continuously forces you to shuffle from one story to the other.

The film introduces you to the harmony between cultural influences from Armenia, Sindh and several other central Asian countries telling the stories of the city’s resistance and persistence against adversities. You learn the stories behind those historical buildings and places– Jama Masjid, Chandni Chawk,  Mughal Darbar and much more. But what interests us the most is the name of the film. We caught up with Anamika Haksar at her residence in Versova, Mumbai, to talk more about the film, especially to understand the making of this challenging film.

“I grew up in  Delhi and my aunt used to go to her music classes when I was very young. She was a great mimic, she told me an instance where a tangawala refused to drop her somewhere stating, ‘are bibi ghode ko jalebi khilane le ja riya hoon (Lady, taking the horse to eat jalebis). That stuck in my mind and I wanted to keep this title for my film as a metaphor and it also has a Delhi humour,” Anamika explains as she reveals that in Lucknow even today horses are fed with milk and jalebi after completing a yearly race.

Anamika Haksar

Love Letter to Old Delhi

Fusing documentary-realism with magic-realism and true and fictionalised stories with poetry history and dreams, Ghodeko... is a love letter to the syncretic culture of Old Delhi, which is slowly getting lost amidst concrete and smog. We asked the director if there was an audience for non-glamourised films. “I don’t think we will have a big euphoric audience but we will have our audience. Many people are sick and tired of regular commercial films and they want to see meaningful cinema and stylistically it’s a different film and has many genres,” insists Anamika, who is known for doing multi-media theatre.  We note interesting elements in the film with ten layers of music juxtaposed with VFX in each scene where the dreams are shown.


Ravindra Sahu and K Gopalan in a scene 

The film has traveled to nearly 35+ international and Indian festivals and won 6 awards including, Best debut director, International Critics Jury Award, Best Script, Best Indian Cinema and special mention for cinematography.