Film southasia

"Festival of southasian documentries"

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

Directed by Tarun Bhartiya | |

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Synopsis

A film looking at the incredibly hardy steam trains that plod resolutely to Darjeeling. These unfeasibly charming trains, which chug up and down the Darjeeling end of the Himalaya, support a vast infrastructure of life along the course of their two-foot-wide tracks. Here we meet a few dependents of the railway, which remains ‘not some exotic antique, but a noisy family member’. They range from quietly remarkable immigrant Sita Chetri, who despite being a middle aged mother of five still lugs luggage up the hills for tourists to pay for her sons’ education; to Furtemba Sherpa, a pointsman with his forlorn musical ambitions being played out by his son and his Nepali Rock band. Throw in elections, Gorkhaland, a Buddhist monk ticket-collector and you have a recipe for an oddball documentary.

[director]Tarun Bhartiya is a filmmaker, writer and activist based in Shillong. His documentary, The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, was the opening film for the BBC series Indian Hill Railways, which won a Royal Television Society Award (Yorkshire) for best documentary series. He also won the National Award for Best Editor (Non-Fiction) for In Camera a film by Ranjan Palit. He has edited other notable films like Jashn-e-Azad (Sanjay Kak), Girl Song and Songlines (Vasudha Joshi). His own film Shillong Bad Places (Tourist Information for Shillong) was part of the Mumbai International Film Festival. Bhartiya is also a Hindi poet whose poems have appeared in various anthologies, including Dancing Earth: Contemporary poetry from North East India (Penguin). [/director]

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