Patang and Authenticity

Patang

Prashant Bhargava came to Amherst to talk about the film he wrote and directed, called Patang, about the annual kite celebration in India.

When questioning his own choice of subject matter, why did I pick kites? He spoke of the universal quality of kites and how he felt like it was true meditation to look up at a kite. But, interestingly, the festival in India has a competitive aspect where participants try and cut each others kites out of the sky.  He felt captured by this subject matter and thought it would be a perfect focal point for a film.

“I noticed the joy that was created from a piece of paper and some string. Kite fighting in India transcends boundaries of class, gender, religion and age.”   – Prashant

Prashant’s film is a multi-character narrative with three intertwining story lines.  He mainly spoke of how the journey of making it was the true reward.  He began by shooting hours and hours of research footage and then attempted to extract a story from those moments and film scenes that attempted to replicate the authenticity of them. One of the toughest aspects of filming was trying to incorporate the noise and clutter of the streets.  The scenes do capture the vibrancy of the city and most of them are filmed as if the audience is a hiding observer.  It was all about observation and finding the beauty that occurs in the silent moments of every day life.

People of Patangs19740966253_1006255_2192

People of Patang

Prashant spoke a lot about the need to build honesty, trust, and relationships with the people he met.  Some of the problems he faced internally were similar to things we have discussed in class. One seemed to be a conflict of identity and authenticity.  Prashant grew up in America but is making a film about India.  How can he make it authentic? How can he be respected as a filmmaker?

He felt as though his mass amounts of research and his choice to use 90% non-actors help authenticate the moments and story lines of the film. He chose not to storyboard the film.  But instead focused the film by the objective of each scene.  He would make adjustments and charge each scene with an objective.  His method of filming is unique and coloful, and he hopes his final product is an authentic portrayal of the spirit of this festival.

Check out Patang’s FACEBOOK page for more information, photos, and trailer.

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One Response

  1. PATANG! the festival the film is based on is coming soon – it marks the first day of spring and in Pakistan is called Basant. I wish I could have attended this lecture but I had an exam that night. Nonetheless, one of my favorite weeks in the world is the one which marks the kite-flying festival: you cannot see the the sky – its FULL of kites. Whether youre poor, rich, old, young, a woman or a man you have a kite up there. Everyone takes to the roofs of their houses with some of the most gaudy/colorful/scary kites ever. Along with that the smell of chicken tikka, fried fish, hot naan – the food of basant! MmmmM.
    Literally all work stops for a week – no one goes to school and if they do – during school theyll sit and stare out the window at the kites being cut, and falling onto the ground (after which everyone will run outside to claim the kite that falls) BOKATA! (I cut your kite!)
    AAAAAH, BASAAANT

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