Filmmaker Kamakhya Narayan Singh’s debut feature Bhor (2018) was screened at the 41st annual edition of Cairo International Film Festival.
Rao Narender Yadav / IAT
Globe-trotting filmmaker Kamakhya Narayan Singh has been to several African countries, but it’s on the banks of River Nile in Egypt, that he is truly and ecstatically at ease. River Nile for him carries the same cultural significance as the mighty river Ganga and Brahmputra in India. His rendezvou with Nile became all the more special this time as his debut feature Bhor (2018) was included in the 41st annual edition of prestigious Cairo International Film Festival.
‘Bhor’ deals with strong issues of women’s empowerment and open defecation, through the lens of Bihar’s Musahar community. Belonging to dalit community, Musahar’s are one of the most marginalised groups in India, and suffer widespread discrimination. “I was always fascinated with them, and wanted to tell their stories. Musahar community is very poor and deprived, still, they will never cry about their poverty,” he says. Kamakhya’s effort to bring the ordinary lives of Musahars on the big screen, is a serious and honest attempt. Based on credible research and strong cast, the film is marked by a poignantly creative touch and feel throughout its duration. Quite naturally, the film easily captures the attention of audience and at once transports them into a small village in Bihar, making them a part of the challenging world of Musahars. It’s no less than a remarkable feat for someone who doesn’t come from a conventional school of filmmaking.
Kamakhya, who has been working with Travel XP for almost a decade now, hails from Assam and has roots in Bihar as well – two places which had significant cultural impact during his young years. “Living in Assam, opened a new cultural horizon for me and had strong influence on my thoughts and cultural orientation. As a teenager, I used to write poetry on Bhupen Hazarika and also got an opportunity to meet him as a teenager and that encouraged me a lot,” he shares.
His initial exposure to myriad forms of art and culture, gave him the early confidence and vision. “Though, I come from a non-filmmaking family background, but I was very clear in my mind that I have to become a filmmaker and that too a socially conscious one. That’s the reason I studied Social work at Delhi University and later went into journalism.” His journalism days helped him in learning the technical and creative aspects of fimmaking, which he further honed during his brief stint with Lok Sabha Channel, NDTV, CNN-IBN and a few others.
‘Bhor’, which was premiered at International Film Festival of India in 2018 also won the Best Film Award at Ottawa Indian Film Festival. The film has been to several prestigious films festivals in Australia and Germany and got a standing ovation at Cairo International Film Festival, the oldest and only internationally accredited annually running film festival in the Arab world, Africa and the Middle East. His film was also screened as the Closing Film of 7th Woodpecker International Film Festival in New Delhi on December 1, 2019.
Always looking for new ideas and compelling stories, Kamakhya, after the stupendous success of ‘Bhor’ in the festival circuit, is now well on his way to make his second feature film. Though he would prefer to keep it under the wrap for some time, but cinephiles can rest assured of another socially challenging and creatively stimulating work from the young Indian filmmaker.