Arts Research and Documentation

Grant Period: Over one year

Shriprakash is an independent documentary filmmaker and freelance journalist. He has won many awards for his work.
“In the mid-1990s a young boy left his home in a remote tribal village in Jharkhand to travel to Ranchi. ‘Anup’ had a burning desire to make it big. Music was his passion. He composed songs that wove dreams; spoke of the everyday struggles and the poverty of his people. In a reckless moment of utter self-confidence Anup recorded his songs on an audiocassette and released it commercially. His music album Guiya (meaning Friend in Nagpuria, the language of the region) was a runaway success. Anup however, illiterate and innocent of the ways of this world, did not profit from this venture. And soon fell back into penury and anonymity.” Shriprakash will tell this apocryphal tale on video, in his docu-feature tentatively titled Recording Guiya.

Jharkhand, Shriprakash’s home state, is rich in natural resources and has a dense concentration of a deep and varied tribal culture. It also has a long history of political, cultural and economic marginalisation. The story of Guiya is, for Shriprakash, much more than Anup’s fleeting tryst with fame. In fashioning his (part-fictional, part-documentary) narrative, he hopes to better understand the commodifying of culture and the vicissitudes of the marketplace.

Shriprakash sets his film in a region that is home to communities in transition. Life-threatening poverty and limited conditions for employment in Jharkhand have forced an increasing number of people to migrate to neighbouring states and regions in search of work. This fascinating new arena for cultural production and reception will be the basis for his film.

In fleshing out Anup’s character, Shriprakash hopes to communicate that innovative mix of tradition and technology that marginalised artists have used to gain a foothold in the contemporary music industry. Referring to the deleterious influences of Christianity and colonialism in Jharkhand, Shriprakash observes that both the (white) district administrator and the (foreign) missionary looked down upon the tradition and lifestyles of tribal communities, especially their songs and dance forms. Over the past decade, new rhythms and styles have redefined the cultural ethos of the region.

Shriprakash will research the use of new instrumentation and regional rhythms in the music produced in Jharkhand today. The final film will, Shriprakash hopes, generate a deeper interest in and questioning of popular cultures, and challenge the division of art into ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ forms.