~ Filmmaker: Madhusree Dutta ~

Akka Mahadevi eight centuries later

I don’t often share videos uploaded by someone other than the copyright holder, because chances are eventually they’ll get taken down and I’ll have a dead post. But these are too good to miss: five selections from Scribbles on Akka, a 60-minute film in Hindi and Kannada with English subtitles directed by Madhusree Dutta, with music by Ilayaraja, and starring Seema Biswas, Sabitri Heisnam, and Harish Khanna. Here’s a synopsis from Upperstall.com:

Scribbles on Akka is a short film on the life and work of the 12th century saint poet, Mahadevi Akka. Her radical poems, written with the female body as a metaphor, have been composed and picturised in contemporary musical language. Mahadevi, famed as Akka — elder sister, while leaving the domestic arena in search of God, also abandoned modesty and clothing. The film explores the meaning of this denial through the work of contem­porary artists and writers and testimonies of ordinary folks who nurtured her image through centuries in their folklores and oral literature. A celebration of rebellion, feminity and legacy down nine hundred years.

The female director writes,

The film is an exercise in building a bridge across eight hundred years. Mahadevi Akka, the poet, still influences the contemporary poets and painters. Mahadevi Akka, the deity, graces the packets of pickles and papads — prepared by ladies’ co-operatives. Mahadevi Akka, the legendary nude saint, adorns pinup posters and music cassette covers. The bridge is already there. But how did it happen?

Why women poets of feminist era obsessively write pieces of dialogues with Akka? Why a painter in Baroda incessantly paints various images of Akka? Why is she still marketable as a brand name? Who is she?

I don’t know, but I will say that the Indian filmmaking style seems tailor-made for videopoetry.