The other weekend I went to the UK launch of Mother India 21st Century Remix at The Drum and was more than a little impressed.
Mother India, Oscar-nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in 1957, follows the story of Radha who endures poverty, the death of her child, the destruction of her village and the dishonour of her son, Birju.
Kala Phool (along with The Drum) have arranged for the film to be substantially re-edited and soundtracked. The original 3 hour running time has been stripped down to a third of that with no subtitles, let alone speech. Instead, it has been made into a silent film (save for the live soundtrack) with the plot revealed in full by two frames of text right at the beginning.
The story told, we were free to sit back and appreciate the sounds and visuals. The soundtrack has been arranged by DJ Tigerstyle, an ex-world champion DJ (the existence of such an award I found difficult to explain to my Gran) whose skills you can see in this video of Tigerstyle in action).
Tigerstyle triggered samples, added atmospheric scratches and played a tabla-configured Akai MCP (or similar bit of kit). He was accompanied by the impressive David Shaw on drums and Matt Constantine who swapped between an electric cello and keyboard.
It was a vibrant, colourful and moving experience. The performers were presented as equals to the visual they were accompanying and were certainly no less compelling. The music was perfectly pitched to accompany the film as the themes switched from celebratory to the tragic.
I’ve been raving about MI21 since seeing it and got in touch with the people at Kala Phool who have provided the photos in this post, as well as a couple of audio snippets. I’m hoping a DVD or at least a soundtrack is released. In the meantime, I’ve been sent a couple of audio snippets (which I’ll post up as soon as I work out what’s up with my hosting).
MI21 is off on tour now. I’m hoping it comes back to Birmingham at some point so I can drag some more friends down to it. In the meantime it’s being shown at the Edinburgh Festival on 31 August and, I hear, there’s been interest internationally. If it comes to your town (or one nearby) I strongly recommend you go along.
Image credits – Jonathan Murray, 2008