Rajula with her little warkari friend at Alandi ghat looking over the shooting of her floor painting
NOMADSLAND/ TIRTHAPATA is conceived as an Imaginary Film. The film is imaginary because no one is making or unmaking it. It only exists in parts, to be stitched together in the viewer's mind . The im-part-ial whole as colossal as the Universe is glimpsed only through these fragments here; like the visions from a pilgrim’s road, ever changing, becoming, always in movement. These fragments (involving the use of moving image, sound, text and still frames) from the pilgrim’s walk, are intricately connected with many more existing out there in a humongous grid, the secret connects being made in the mind of whoever wanders into the Tirtha kshetra/ Sacred geography of the Nomad's land. The joining of new dots by changing pilgrims Here & Now creates new virtual territories, defined yet perpetually falling outside the set frame.
The starting point of mii journey, has been the sacred landscape of Deccan but walking with a camera in the land of ten thousand Tirthas, pilgrimage acquires a universal appeal. While the annual wari carries on across centuries with the Warkaris walking in step with the rotations of the agricultural calendar; clouds gather in the sky as the Dhangar maps the Nomad’s land with his herd of sheep. Pandharpur emerges as a multi-layered, palimpsest, a crossroad of many faiths, communities crossing ways.
As a whole it constitutes what Diane Ecke calls a sacred geography as vast and complex as the whole of the subcontinent or may be even the Many Asias that Spivak speaks of; and therefore everything therein, exists as only a part of "a living, storied and intricately connected landscape."
Rajula’s work falls in the interstice of Visual Arts, Poetry and Cinema. She grew up listening to stories and working with tribal and folk artisans from all over the subcontinent and considers it her first school. This is where she absorbed the storytelling practices and learned to make things with hand while working through various craft processes across a range of materials.
The second school was the fine arts faculty of Baroda, where she studied painting briefly under Jyoti Bhatt at the Fine Arts Faculty Baroda gaining a complementary perspective in modern art. Here she also met Vincent Van Gogh in the college library and was deeply influenced by his work and thought. It later led to a decade long engagement with the translation and editing of a book of his letters to Theo in Hindi, published as 'Mujh par bharosa rakhna'/ eq> ij Hkjkslk j[kuk in 2011.
In 2005 she published her first poetry collection ijNkbZa dh f[kM+dh ls / Through the window of shadow which was awarded the Gyanpeeth Award for New Writing.
While pursuing a Masters in Literature it emerged that the movement was towards Cinema where the many and various strands would fall in place. Following which she studied Cinema, specializing in film direction from Film & Television Institute of India, Pune in 2000.
Her own film practice emerges from an intense dialogue with the various arts, in the inter-connectedness that emerges through a close collaboration with people, their spaces and the meanings that get contextualized in collaboration. Working as independent artist-filmmaker, she began with what is usually known as a documentary, working extensively in film and video exploring the boundaries of fiction/non-fiction, photography, video essay, digital art and in the process producing/ directing a handful of short & feature length films. She also develops scripts in collaboration with fellow artists, craftspeople, and people on the margins who live/work in the interstice of practice and performance.
Her films have been screened widely.
Her short fictions include Do hafte guzarte do hafte nahin lagte 35mm/ col/ 22 min/ 2000
Aisa nahin hua tha tahira/ Jumbled cans 35mm/ col/ 23 min/ 2013, awarded for its spirit of experiment with John Abraham National Award at SIGNS, Kerela.
Sabad Nirantar/ Word within the word is her feature doc on the resonances of the mystic poet Kabir in contemporary India. It has been received very warmly by lay audiences and critics alike and was awarded the Horizonte prize at DOKFEST, Munich.
Katha Loknath/ Retold by Loknath is appreciated and awarded for walking the fine line of fact/ fiction.
She also works in collaboration with fellow filmmakers. The notable being as Production Designer on Arghya Basu's poetry video Neend se lambi raat and as Cinematographer for the documentary Of Exiles and Kingdoms.
She has been on various Juries including the National Film Awards. She has been closely studying and contributing to the history and practice of teaching film in India, while interacting with film students, colleagues and fellow practitioners for well over a decade. The reflections on and awareness of the need to develop film teaching methodologies in the Indian context is a concern with her. She designs and directs Filmmaking & Film Appreciation workshops with student groups at FTII and other film and media schools.
The need to situate the arts practice within the relevant social, political, cultural context has led her to publish a lot of translations, the notable among them being the translation of We are poor but so many by the eminent social scientist Ela Bhatt. Her translations of Forough Farrokhzad's poems into Hindi are published from Tanav. She ran a regular column on Cinema in the NSD magazine Rang Prasang for two years. A grounding in Sanskrit and English gives her an advantage of having a working knowledge of a couple of Indian languages including Bangla, Marathi, Urdu, Gujrati, Punjabi, Chhattisgarhi, and a few dialects, an asset to connect crucially within the sub continental spread given the diverse cultural and linguistic diversity peculiar to India.
She's currently working on a new film called 'At Home Walking'.