Published: 24th September 2018
Young filmmaker Prangya Parimita Pradhan's short film on the Chakulia Panda is worth a watch
Pradhan is also an admirer of directors like Steven Spielberg and Christopher Nolan
Do you remember the Chakulia Pandas? Those sweet souls with their umbrellas made of palm leaf or dried straw, who would go door-to-door, reciting poems or even humorous plays from Odia scriptures and in exchange, ask for rice? They have been an integral part of growing up for many including Prangya Parimita Pradhan. The 23-year-old wistfully shares how a particular Chakulia Panda, who used to visit her house when she was a child, "visited our home recently after a long time. He recognised me even after all these years and affectionately called me beti." This nostalgia was enough reason for the filmmaker to pick up her camera and set out to make a film on the Chakulia Pandas. Having made her first short film, In Between Everything, which was nominated for the Super 9 Mobile Film Festival, and directed a few others, she toiled hard to make one on the Chakulia Pandas, which she uploaded on her YouTube channel just two weeks ago and titled it Ahe Chakulia.
Pradhan says that she will forever be grateful to her parents, Srinibash and Annapurna Pradhan, for their support
Pradhan, who has an Economic Honours degree from Ekamra College, has been pursuing filmmaking since 2011. And while she has made three short films before, this particular one proved to be a huge challenge. After extensive Google searches and asking around, she finally found out about a few Chakulia Pandas in Pipili, but they refused to meet her for one reason or the other. "One even went as far as asking, 'Who even goes as a Chakulia Panda nowadays and who gives us rice, anyway?'. Another asked if he will get any money for appearing in the video," she sadly recalls. But humanity prevailed and she finally found one cooperative Chakulia Panda and filmed the short film with him for two days. Her wish was fulfilled. "Chakulia Pandas are a very integral part of my childhood memories, but there aren't as many Chakulia Pandas now as there used to be. So I wanted to record them before they disappear," says Pradhan, adding that from being treated as a part of the family, they are now treated as beggars. "I used to wake up to the sound of temple bells and in the evening, the sound of a kirtan used to fill the neighbourhood. Several Chakulia Pandas would do the rounds, but everything has changed now. I miss it all," says the youngster.
I have always been inspired by the simplicity of R K Narayan's Malgudi Days and the work of Satyajit Ray
Prangya Parimita Pradhan, Short filmmaker
"I have made this documentary with a lot of love and care. it has been a very emotional journey for me," says Pradhan, who shot the video on her Canon 70D and edited it on her Oppo A37 phone. And while this short film is out there for us to watch, she has already started working on two more documentaries as well. And she hopes that she will continue to make more and more such films for she loves this particular medium of storytelling.
For more on her, you can click on instagram.com/Call_me_by_