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Screen journey into a relationship

It was a journey of self-discovery and exploration of one of the closest relationships in the world — mother and child. An intense 20 minute showed them trying to understand each other, coming to terms with some painful past and present and also accepting some hidden truths.

Madhabilata, an experimental film by media artist and independent film-maker Paromita Das, was screened for the first time in Calcutta at Studio21 on September 15. The screening was followed by a discussion with film-maker and academician Madhuja Mukherjee, whose film, Carnival, was recently screened at Rotterdam and Moscow.

Madhabilata revolves round a mother-daughter dialogue on Skype. An experimental video diary shot on high-definition format, the film is all about losing oneself and finding the imagined self. The daughter is the film-maker herself, while the mother is her own biological one.

“The film is a very personal journey that took me seven to eight months to complete. I was a student of the Edinburgh College of Art at that time. During those months I completely cut myself off from the world, to rediscover a whole gamut of suppressed emotions,” the film-maker said.

Mukherjee congratulated Das for her bold treatment of the subject. “Despite the strong emotional bonding between the mother and daughter, I was surprised to see a sense of detachment in the film-maker.”

The complexity of the relationship comes across through a variety of images and dialogues between the mother and the daughter. The mother is like any conventional 60-year-old. She does not understand her daughter’s constant desire to fly like a bird, run away from home. She misses the daughter, yearns to touch her, wants to see her married to “someone with a good profile” and ready to shoulder her responsibilities.

The daughter is aggressive at times as she feels her mother never understood her. At other times she tries to understand the woman inside her mother. As the conversation flows, the complexities of the relationship become clear.

The film ends on a positive note though, showing the artiste forcing a yellow flower bud to bloom. “It’s a symbol of the quest for love,” Das explained. The film is an Edinburgh College of Art Production presented by Screen Academy Scotland and supported by Scottish Documentary Institute in association with Doc Doctors.