In summer of 2012, Anjan arrives in Varanasi. Then, he mysteriously disappears. Left behind is his research material, and fragments of an ominous science-fiction story about a strange character, K, whose ancestors visited the city from another dimension thousands years ago.
A FILM ON THREE WHEELS is a short documentary that takes you deep into the world of rickshaws and rickshaw drivers. From its birth in 1848 in the hands of a blacksmith in Worchester, Massachusetts, to its eventual spread across Asia, this film transports you to Asia, and into the lives of its quirky drivers. From their aspirations to win the first ever Formula One style race held in Mumbai, to their daily battle for survival, it brings you close to one of the most iconic attractions of Asia.
It is said to be one of the oldest cities known to man. Kashi the cosmic city; Benares the city of
colonial times and of the independence struggle; and Varanasi as it is known today. Mark Twain once
famously said: "Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks
as old as all of them put together."
Historically, Varanasi has been the pivotal centre of Hinduism, with layers of myths colouring every
aspect of it. It has been the cultural capital of India, with some of the biggest Indian poets, writers and
philosophers trying to capture its complexities. For devout Hindus, it is the holy city to die in. Its ghats
serve as open-air crematoriums with multiple bodies simmering in the flames at any given time. The
mighty Ganges river - Ganga-ji, an enigma meandering through the city - is considered one of the
holiest water bodies in Hinduism. It is also one of the most polluted rivers on the planet. The
mythologies and narratives about the city affect its every day-to-day existence, revolving around a
belief system that has evolved over thousands of years and now mediated and packaged in different
ways to serve a diversity of life passing through it: pilgrims, grieving family members, seekers of
wisdom, tourists, researchers and photographers and film-makers each trying to capture a slice of
this "essential" mystery of India.
(What Is) The White Matter? is an experimental documentary that was shot in 10 days on location in
Varanasi/Benares. It was filmed using only cheap HDSLR cameras combined with time-lapse
sequences and scientifically-designed effects. The audio tracks mixed live-recording of chants and
other material recorded on location combined with sequences of freely sourced music. What normally
involves a budget of tens of thousands of dollars we were able to squeeze into a guerilla film
shoestring production that innovated with ideas and technology rather than with funding.
Film making is a chaotic practice. Yet amidst the chaos there can be always found a patch of green grass whereone can temporarily rest on and reflect on what happened. The project raises questions about what
new practices of expression that were not possible before, or at least, not as easy as today, mean for
representation and on technologies of communication in the Global South.