Ajay Bhardwaj

Arts Collaboration

Grant Period: Over four months

Ajay Bhardwaj holds an MA degree in Political Science and an MA degree in Mass Communication. He is a television producer and has produced a number off shows, which have been aired on television.

Collaborator: Nirupama Dutt

Nirupama Dutt is an established presence in the field of Punjabi poetry and short fiction. A senior journalist with over twenty-eight years of experience, she works as Features Editor with The Tribune.

IFA made a grant to filmmaker Ajay Bhardwaj in 2002 to enable him and his collaborator, the writer Nirupama Dutt, to test their ideas about contemporary Punjab through travel and dialogue, to establish contact with individuals who would produce anchorage and reference points for their proposed film, and to examine their own role in relation to the ‘little traditions’ of Punjab. This grant enabled them to travel into Punjab and make a video film on the marginalised aspects of Punjab’s cultural landscape.

The grant resulted in three important discoveries. First, the content of “little traditions” expanded to include cultural and political phenomena other than those that had been initially identified. Second, they dropped the idea of Nirupama being physically present in the film. Instead individual representatives of the ‘little traditions’ began to carry greater appeal as possible anchors and subjects of the film. And third, the initial idea of undertaking preliminary shooting during the grant phase was abandoned quite early on in the project.

Given these experiences, the duo realised that the film had to be a travelogue in the sense that it will be informed by the idea of the journey. They travelled with different individuals who became their guides and reference points to the film. However, regardless of who their co-travellers are, the overall essence of the film remains consistent.

The film ‘Kitte Mil Ve Mahi’ is essentially an account of the genealogies of sufi pirs and the cultural traditions associated with their mazaars. The film has been well received in the media and has been screened at various venues around the country, particularly New Delhi. Ajay believes that with this film, his exploration of traditions has just begun.