Synopsis: About 1,000,000 people belonging to the Cheeta, Mehrata, and Kathat communities inhabit some 160 villages in Rajasthan. They follow a mix of both Hindu and Muslim religious practice and customs. Many identify themselves as both Hindu and Muslim at the same time, though more of them identify themselves as Muslims or simply “Kaathat.”
Apparently their identity as neither Hindu nor Muslim (but perhaps a bit of both) has been perceived as a threat since the mid-1980s, because both Hindu and Muslim revivalist organizations have been relentlessly competing for exclusive ownership of the community. These organizations engage them in doctrinaire faith, presenting new challenges for the ways the community members define themselves and want to live. And in the process of renegotiating to a particular faith with rigidity, they are beginning to transgress their age-old syncretic identity and lose their horizons forever.
A film set in the village of Nizamuddin, built around the dargah of the Chishti saint Sheikh Nizamuddin Auliya, a village which has survived over seven hundred years into the 21st century.
Director: Murad AliProducer: PSBT (Rajiv Mehrotra)
Produced In: 2007
Like Here Like There (So Heddan So Hoddan) :
Director: ANJALI MONTEIRO AND K.P. JAYASANKAR | Producer: PSBT
Genre: Documentary | Produced In: 2011 | Story Teller’s Country: India
Synopsis: Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, a medieval Sufi poet, is an iconic figure in the cultural history of Sindh. Bhitai’s Shah Ji Risalo is a remarkable collection of poems which are sung by many communities in Kachchh (Kutch) and across the border in Sindh (now in Pakistan).
Umar Haji Suleiman of Abdasa, in Kutch, Gujarat, is a self taught Sufi scholar; once a cattle herder, now a farmer, he lives his life through the poetry of Bhitai. Umar’s cousin, Mustafa Jatt sings the Bheths of Bhitai. He is accompanied on the Surando, by his cousin Usman Jatt. Usman is a truck driver, who owns and plays one of the last surviving surandos in the region. The surando is a peacock shaped, five-stringed instrument from Sindh. The film explores the life worlds of the three cousins, their families and the Fakirani Jat community to which they belong.
Before the Partition, the Maldhari (pastoralist) Jatts moved freely across the Rann, between Sindh (now in Pakistan) and Kutch. As pastoral ways of living have given way to settlement, borders and industrialisation, the older generation struggles to keep alive the rich syncretic legacy of Shah Bhitai, which celebrates diversity and non-difference, suffering and transcendence, transience and survival.