Okul Nodi is a contemplative documentary film about Bhatiyali, the river music of Bangladesh.
Bhatiyali is the soulful music sung, as tradition has it, by the boatmen of Bangladesh. The poignancy of the lyrics often rests on dual meanings wherein boats become bodies, lovers are also lost gods, and river banks stand for cycles of life and death. All the while, the melody, with its tonal variations, carries the listener into the natural world by creating the sensation of drifting along the water.
We spent months traversing the Brahmaputra-Ganges delta by boats, buses and rickshaws in search of boatmen, hoping to trace a history of this musical form and its relationship to the landscape. What we found instead was a passionate group of experts, the effects of modernization on folk traditions, and an open dialogue about what it means to be Bengali.
Mirroring the complicated yet fleeting relationship between the songs and the landscape and by calling attention to the intrinsic qualities of the cinematic form itself, Okul Nodi explores a disjunction between expectation and experience.