This was the first story that I completed in Gunhear, as part of my ShopArt ArtShop 2 Residency. Maniram owns one of the houses, were some of us artists are staying for the one month duration of the ShopArt ArtShop residency.
I wasn’t really interested in Maniram as a subject until one day, Puneet, an installation artist came over to my shop and showed me a rifle, which he said belonged to Maniram.
It was very interesting to note that this otherwise old guy, working slowly in his small field, cooking his food, washing his dishes and smoking a zillions bidis a day, owned a rifle! I was suddenly very interested in listening to his story. I showed him a work in progress video on my phone (that I have since discarded) and expressed my desire to make a story on him. He readily agreed.
The interview was quick and short. But this story is more visual than narrative.
I observed Maniram going about his daily chores for about two days, and kept shooting anything that I thought might be helpful in portraying his usual daily life. I knew something was missing. How do you end a story like this? At one point I had this crazy idea of ending the story with both Maniram and I drinking together on his roof top and passing out. I could have actually tried doing that had I not heard a song playing on radio one evening – the sound coming from Maniram’s room. It was a fast number from Rangeela. I decided to shoot him listening to songs on radio. I was shooting when the next song played. And that song, created just the right end for my story.
Because this was the first 3 minute Story that was screened for villagers, I was skeptical about the response. Would they like it or get extremely bored? After all, most of the villagers already know everything about each other. Why would they care about Maniram’s boring life? But to my delight, they did. Over the last two weeks, many have seen the story over twenty times. Children especially have a good time, every time they see (and listen to) Maniram brush his teeth or wash his dishes. Maniram’s life goes on on as usual.
This and other stories from Gunehar are part of my ShopArt ArtShop 2 Project.