Nandita Das

The Long Night

  • September 1, 2005

It’s been a while since I blogged, but I haven’t really been away because almost everyday I have been coming here, unable to resist, wanting to know the journeys different people are taking. I would read various thoughts and comments respond and react to them mentally, but somehow the time, ability and desire to post myself was rather low. It’s been so disturbing reading about New Orleans, writing anything else seemed almost irrelevant. But as we look with horror at the devastation and tragedy there, we are also aware that people continue to suffer and feel joy in other parts of the world. But that’s the paradox of life, isn’t it? Everything coexists simultaneously, in a profoundly mysterious way.

I am going to share a very small and interesting experience that I recently had, nothing profound or political for that matter! I was in Zurich, for what they call the Lange Nacht Der Museen (The Long Night of the Museum). For the last 7years, they have had this event, where all the museums are open all night and interesting activities are done in each of them to entice the public to visit them. The idea is to find creative ways of making Museums more popular. This year The Reitberg Museum, one of the most respected Museums that showcases Asian Art in Switzerland, decided to have me as their enticer! I was to show some of the clippings from my films, and give a little talk about my film work and social concerns, followed by a Q&A with the audience. This I would have to do, not once, or twice, but 3 times, the last one being at midnight! I was initially hesitant as I felt it was too much of a responsibility to be the only crowd puller. What if people just don’t show up?! And who wants to hear the ramblings of an Indian actress, who is not even a Bollywood star!

But when the Museum Director gave me some confidence, I decided to go for it. At the very least, it would be a new experience. I do give talks but to do it thrice in the same night, to make it spontaneous yet structured as it had certain film clips that needed to be talked about and to make it interesting enough to a floating population that could just walk out if it didn’t grab them, was a scary thought.

But finally when the night came, I realized how jet lagged I was, so had a new worry that I might just fall asleep in the middle of my talk! I was amazed at the number of people that came and actually sat through it. As I responded to the questions, I began to realize the huge interest that people have in Indian culture and its emerging mindset that is grabbing the interest and influencing the thinking of the rest of the world. The questions came from a motley crowd- those who had never been to India to hard core Indophiles, some of whom that were even better informed than me. A wide range of topics were covered and I realized how difficult it was to answer anything about a country that is, more like a continent and not a monolith. No matter what I said, or could have said, would do justice to the complexities and contradictions that make India what it is. I began to think aloud as I answered questions about women, caste system, films, culture and all the myths, notions and familiar stereotypes that shroud the India mythos. Looking at myself and India from the outside gave me a fresh perspective on myself and my world.

So there we were at 1am in the morning still engaged in an energetic/passionate discussion. It sure was a unique experience for me and even if I say it myself, the people didn’t seem too unhappy either!

It’s amazing how different people around the globe are thinking of creative ways of connecting, communicating and sharing. Aren’t we trying to do the same on our intent blog?

Virata Parvam


Director: Udugula Venu

Language: Telugu

Character Name: Shakuntala

Key Cast: Kundan Alexzed, Chakrapani Ananda, Banerjee

Feastivals and Awards: NA

Film Stills: 9

BTS: 11