Anne Ghode Da Daan (Alms of the Blind Horse), a Punjabi film starring theater artist Samuel John, directed by Gurvinder Singh is to be showcased at the 68th Venice Film Festival, from August 31st through September 10th in the competition category. The fact that Amit Dutta’s Sonchiddi in Hindi happens to be the only other Indian film to make it to the Venice Film Festival this year, adds to the glory of this film. Produced by National Film Development Corporation ( NFDC ), the film is based on the novel by the same name written by Gyanpeeth Award winner Punjabi novelist Professor Gurdial Singh.
Film – Anne Ghode Da Daan
To be showcased at the 68th Venice Film Festival in the competition category. The daily schedule of screenings will be announced after August 15th.
produced by National Film Development Corporation ( NFDC )
Directed by Gurvinder Singh
Starring Theatre Artists Samuel John (Mitti fame), Mal Singh, Serbjeet Kaur, Dharminder Kaur, Emmanuel Singh, Kulwinder Kaur, Lakha Singh and Gurvinder Makhna, among other non-professional local cast including the laborers.
Based on the novel by the same name written by Gyanpeeth Award winner Punjabi novelist Professor Gurdial Singh.
Synopsis – Based on the novel of the same name by Prof. Gurdial singh, the film is woven around the Dalit theme. The protagonist who portrays the role of a Dalit rickshaw puller is on a quest for knowledge, to find out the meaning of his existence. “The film is the story of a rickshaw-puller spread over one day. His dreams of making a better living are dashed on the plane of reality of an urban life, which is insensitive to his existence.” says Samuel. “Suffering of the mazdoor living either in the village or urban areas is the same. They have always been deprived and that is what the story is all about.” “The story is based on how devtas cheated asurs during samudra manthan and drank the elixir,” Samuel further adds.
Samuel John, the theater artist has devoted almost 20 years of his life in staging plays in different parts of Punjab, specially Lehragaga in Sangrur District and according to Samuel, with the success of the film, he is just paying back to the stage to which he belongs. Samuel John first came to limelight with his first Punjabi film Mitti.
Samuel John in Anne Ghode Da Daan.
The Director of the film Gurvinder Singh, a postgraduate from Pune University also had a brief stint as a graphic artist prior to the film. But it was after he joined Film and Television Institute of India in Pune, that his career steered in a different direction. The Director also has the documentation of the subaltern folk music in Punjab from 2002 to 2006 to his credit.
“Anne Ghode Da Daan tries to evoke the result that years of subordination has on the struggling masses, reflected in the macrocosm of events spinning beyond their control. It is about silently witnessing, devoid of the power to change or influence the course of destiny, about the invisible violence of power equation and simmering discontent reflected on their faces,” says Director Gurvinder Singh.
Samuel John in Anne Ghode Da Daan.
The shooting took place in village Sivia in Bathinda district of Punjab in early 2010. Along with Samuel John who has been doing theater for nearly 20 years now, the film also stars local non-professional cast. “The film features a majority of non-actors and has real-life labourers in it,” says Samuel John. “To keep the role natural there was no make-up. I had to wear a kambal for the month-long shooting in Sivian village of Bathinda, which even gave me blisters,” he futher adds.
Ever since the news of the film to be showcased in 68th Venice Film Festival has broken out, the whole Punjabi community has been ecstatic. To quote Professor Gurdial Singh, “It is a matter of great pride for all of us. We have a lot of Punjabi films being made but there was nothing in the name of serious cinema.”
Actor Samuel John is equally joyful to see Punjabi Cinema moving towards new horizons and adopting serious subjects.
The only thing that makes me sad is the little attention that the film has garnered and the paucity of the media coverage. Shouldn’t we be honoring this local talent, who remains hidden under the shadow of not so talented artists? Leave aside talented, most of them are not even trained theater artists. The need is to recognize and appreciate such films based on serious subjects amidst the “Punjabi singers turning film actors” scenario. Signing off and leaving you with this thought to ponder over !!