Theatre veteran Anamika Haksar’s debut film, Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon, is an offbeat ode to Shahjahanabad
Theatre veteran Anamika Haksar’s debut film is a novel work of creative fiction that presents a kaleidoscopic view of Old Delhi.
Since the last week-and-a-half, several film enthusiasts from Delhi-NCR have been seen flocking to cinema halls—precisely Delite Cinema, Daryaganj, PVR Promenade, Vasant Kunj, and PVR, Noida. Interestingly, it is not any high-grossing Bollywood blockbuster that is taking everyone back to the theatres. The film in question is Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon—an experimental film made on a meagre budget. Directed by theatre veteran and debutant filmmaker Anamika Haksar, this creative fiction—it was completed in 2018, but the team was unable to release the film due to a lack of budget—has received immense love in six Indian cities where it was released last week by producer Shiladitya Bora’s Platoon Distribution.
Transcending boundaries of conventional storytelling, Haksar’s 124-minute film draws from various genres including fiction, magic realism, ethnography, and, if one were to study further, several other techniques. The aim of Ghode Ko Jalebi… is pretty simple: documenting the lives and dreams of the people residing in Old Delhi. The result, however, is disoriented, dark, unthinkable, and at times, uncomfortably comical; a layered piece that has immense food for thought to offer the viewer. Reacting to the response the film has received, Haksar, shares, “I can’t believe that the film has received so much love. I did think people would find it interesting but this has been overwhelming.”
Glimpses of hopes, dreams and more
Ghode Ko Jalebi… is centred on the lives of four locals of Delhi-6: Patru (Ravindra Sahu), a pickpocket; Chhadami (Raghubir Yadav), a snacks vendor; Lal Bihari (Gopalan), a daily wage labourer; and Akash (Lokesh Jain), a tourist guide who conducts heritage walks. The film has been made over a period of seven years in which Haksar and her team conducted several interviews with people—daily wage workers, pickpockets, drug addicts, vendors, and more—asking them questions about their dreams, fears, lives, etc. By getting such personal insight into their worlds, the team could seamlessly juxtapose these narratives with fiction. An important theme explored in this film are the many dreams of the underbelly. “Dreams open a gateway to understanding where a person is. I felt that will tell you what is happening in the mind of our people,” explains the 63-year-old filmmaker when asked why she focused on this aspect in the story.
Putting the ‘real’ in surreal
A prime achievement of Ghode Ko Jalebi… is that it takes us through the lives of the economically-vulnerable section by neither making it seem like poverty porn nor stereotyping it as is usually done in mainstream cinema. Haksar comments on this, “That has a lot to do with one’s own orientation… My sister is a human rights lawyer and has always been in touch with ordinary people. From her I have learnt in terms of respecting people. So, you are not talking about them out of pity, which is what I knew was important in the film.”
The film is an anti-narrative, which portrays the routine chaos of Old Delhi with tenderness without romanticising it. From the striking visual metaphors to the plot structure, there is too much to take away from the film for which Ghode Ko Jalebi… cannot be made sense of but just felt.
CHECK IT OUT
WHAT: ‘Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon’
WHEN: Till June 26
WHERE: Delite Cinemas, Daryaganj; PVR Promenade, Vasant Kunj; PVR Logix, Noida