Blacksmiths' tale on screen - Focus on Basta community

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  • Published 26.03.14

Bhubaneswar, March 25: Unlike the mainstream Odia films that are reluctant to dig out original stories from the state, documentary filmmakers have a knack of unravelling enticing tales.

After making a docu-drama titled The Voice of Silence, 34-year-old filmmaker Manas Sahoo has come up with another docu-drama titled The Tale of Kol-Lohar. The film is based on a community of blacksmiths residing at Basta in Balasore.

The particular blacksmith community that mingled with Kolha tribes for generations is called Kol–Lohar.

The film begins with a young blacksmith named Mohan, catching a train from Bhubaneswar to reach his native place Balasore.

He often travels to Bhubaneswar to get some new orders from the wholesale iron equipment dealer.

Once, he accidentally meets a woman researcher who wants to know the story of Lohars. Mohan agrees to show her the lifestyle, believes, customs et al of his clan.

The tales narrated by Mohan ranges from the diligent and laborious nature of his kith and kin to the trials and tribulations of his community members.

The film shows many aspects of their culture such as showcasing the Narta song that is a must during celebrations and the Karama Festival when all villagers go to jungle to worship and invoke the deity Karama.

The film also captures the tribal blacksmiths praying on a full moon night for good fortune and drinking the local wine Handia for merriment.

The film also brings forth their hardships. People dying of diseases and snakebites and young kids being compelled to learn the skills in able to assist their parents make for gut-wrenching visuals.

“Along with looking at the lives of the blacksmiths, the film also focuses on the development of Iron industries and consequently the depreciating value of a Lohar,” said Manas, an alumnus of a Chennai based film Institute.

“It is hard to integrate fiction and facts and it took me a year to make the 53-minute film,” he adds.

He has been involved with theatre and script writing for the past 14 years and wishes to screen his film at various festivals and send it for the National Film Awards.