Celebrated Serbian director Goran Paskaljevic has put Uttarakhand on the world cinema map with his latest film “Dev Bhoomi” (Land of the Gods).
Premiered at the 41st Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Dev Bhoomi offers a rounded and enigmatic view of life in the beautiful north Indian hill state that was ravaged by floods and landslides in 2013.
“Despite all the social and ecological ills that the film dwells upon, ‘Dev Bhoomi’ is aimed at upholding hope and humanity,” says the 69-year-old Paskaljevic.
The director’s films have over the years competed for the top prizes at the world’s top festivals in Cannes, Venice and Berlin.
Starring Victor Banerjee in the role of a man who returns to his remote Himalayan village after a 40-year absence to wrap up unfinished business, the film goes into various challenges that the region faces — obscurantism, limited scope for women’s education and emancipation, and the scourge of the caste system.
But above all, Paskaljevic asserts, “Dev Bhoomi” is an ode to the beauty of Uttarakhand. “India is a country that evokes very strong emotions,” he says.
“One either hates it and never returns or falls in love with it and keeps coming back. I fell in love with India.”
Banerjee was a member of the jury and the two men struck up a friendship and decided to work together on a film.
“Our worldviews and cinematic interests were the same and so we hit it off instantly,” says Paskaljevic.
“Dev Bhoomi” was jointly scripted by Paskaljevic and Banerjee and shot entirely in Uttarakhand after the director toured the entire state over a period of a month.
“Although ‘Dev Bhoomi’ is an Indo-Serbian co-production, it is really more a Serbian film shot in India. I did not want to be overly critical of things that are wrong here. It would not have been fair on my part. I am an outsider. I am nobody to judge,” says Paskaljevic.
Besides Banerjee, the cast of “Dev Bhoomi” includes Geetanjali Thapa, Uttara Baokar and Raj Zutshi.
Source: The Hindu