In Prantik Narayan Basu’s (b. 1986, India) film Rang Mahal | Palace of Colours (2019) the artist collaborates with the Santhal tribe in North-West India, and turns into a storyteller narrating both the mythical and the mundane, and the ways in which this tribal community intimately relate to their landscape.
Until recent years, the Santhal tribe of India did not have their own written language. Their stories and myths were preserved and passed on verbally through the generations. Each narration has a different form, much like the rocks of a nearby hill that come in various hues.
Rang Mahal/Palace of Colours, 2019, film, 26.30 mins.
Selected by Project 88, Mumbai
Where are you from and how did you become interested in moving image work?
I am from Kolkata, India. Films and moving images are something that I have always been drawn to. I loved telling stories as a child and would always visualise the short stories and poems from my school curriculum, and envision them as films in my head. While doing my BA in English Literature, I wrote the script for a short film and directed it with the help of a few friends back in 2007. The same year, I gave the entrance exam for the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune, and got into its Direction department.
What inspired/influenced you to make the work?
For the past few years, my filmmaking has been closely associated with the interpretation of folklore from different Indian regions. I find it fascinating how these primitive tales are often progressive in nature. They work as a time capsule, offering access to our rich anecdotal history that is often lost in translation. While I was collaborating with the Santal community for another film, I read various versions of their Creation myths. They intrigued me to ruminate upon the unique correlation between nature and culture, and the landscape they originate from.
What are you working on at the moment?
Presently I am working on a short film, besides developing my first fiction feature film that I plan to shoot next year.
Born in Kolkata, India in 1986, Prantik Narayan Basu’s work engages with the politics of gender and the fragile relation between the nature and the humans. His short film SAKHISONA (2017) won a Tiger Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, was screened at BFI London Film Festival, Image Forum Festival in Tokyo and the Mumbai International Film Festival, where it won the Best Short Film Prize. His short documentary film PALACE OF COLOURS (2019) premiered at Berlinale, where it was nominated for the Golden Bear for Best Short Film. His latest mid-length documentary film BELA premiered at Visions du Réel, Nyon, and IFFR in 2021, and has been acquired by MUBI. He is presently working on his first fiction feature film DENGUE, with support from the Hubert Bals Fund from IFFR and the Patrick & Joan Leigh Fermor PJLF Arts Fund.