It was altogether an unusual experience for the audience when Amitabh Chakraborty, the award-winning film Director, presented his film “Bishar Blues” at Bangalore International Centre on 23 rd January, 2010. The film which had won the Golden Lotus as the best non-feature film in the National Awards in 2008, as well as awards for best editing and best audiography was screened for the first time in Bangalore by Bangalore International Centre in collaboration with the India Foundation for Arts.
The Director introduced his subject – an exposition on the deeply spiritual music and life-styles of Bishar Fakirs, an indigenous, liberal minded and largely outcast group of Muslims – through a conversation in a moving car and through a series of encounters at various shrines and fairs. The effect was magical and striking. The songs sung by the fakirs were typical folk songs, but questioning at the same time the core ideas of religion and refuting the need for prayers, fastings and pilgrimages.
During the interactions the Director explained how he took about 3 years to research and develop the film and how the whole period was an educative experience for him. He thought that the essence of “marfat” philosophy which the Bishar fakirs expounded through their oral traditions and songs – a conviction that realization of one’s true self leads to the realization of God – was particularly relevant in the present context when rigidities and religious fanaticism were creating tensions around the world. The audience, which gave Amitabh Chakraborty a standing ovation, could not have agreed more.