Naach is a form of traditional folk theatre from Bihar, India. In this tradition, male artists often cross dress as women on stage and are referred to as ‘laundas’. The most legendary name in this tradition is Bhikhari Thakur’s— an actor, playwright, and a social reformer popularly known as the ‘Shakespeare of Bhojpuri.’ The film follows the last four Naach performers to have worked him and creates a visual archive of their performance tradition. As they share their plays, songs and a lifetime of memories, they immerse us into the world of folk theatre where we begin to see a glimpse of budhau – the old man, himself.
Shilpi Gulati is a filmmaker and researcher based out of New Delhi. Her body of work largely engages with themes of gender, performance and oral traditions in India. Her last documentary ‘Qissa-e Parsi’ (2014) won the National Award for the Best Ethnographic Film and her other works, ‘Inside Out’ (2010), ‘Dere to Delhi’ (2012) and ‘Lock and Key’ (2017) have been screened at various festivals in Asia, Europe and the US. Shilpi is also a Fulbright scholar and is currently pursuing her PhD at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Directed by Jainendra Dost & Shilpi Gulati
Bhojpuri with English subtitles