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Letters to God is a production of poetry, music and dance as a form of monologues of artists with inner-self and dialogues with God. This initiative was directed by Bengali poet T. M. Ahmed Kaysher, and was produced by Saudha, one of the leading promoters of Indian classical and global music in the West in association with Poplar Union (London).
This short film starts with the image of a flame on someone’s hands, and a dramatic melody on a piano (composed by British composer and pianist Will Lawton). The flame seems to be on a shrine while hands appear to be praying. But there is a slow movement that suggests that by praying hands are reaching another state: dancing. This fire size goes from big, medium to small, matching the circular hands movements. By the end, both hands come together touching each other, coming back to the initial position of praying.
It is in that moment that the elocutionist Srimati Chandrimaa Roy enters the scene and performs a Bengali poem by one of the finest Indian Nobel Laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore. This poem comes from a feeling of self-determination, self-reliance at a critical time; it is a sort of demand to God. A bit later, a fiction writer called Shrimati Shree Ganguly, reads the translation of the poem in a monologue form, while young Sitar Maestro, Ramprapanna Bhattacharya, performed a beautiful piece in the background of the poetry recitation, ‘I do not pray so you save me from the burdens of life, I pray but I remain unafraid when a face them […] If no help comes forth, then I will not crumble’. And her voice starts disappearing within a landscape, and a little girl, Tanisha Chowdhury, lying on the grass, comes forward to the scene.
Tanisha talks to God, dreaming awake, representing herself the innocence of a child and a fresh vision about life. She demands answers to God, and she is sad because her family and friends are dying during the pandemic. She asks God for compassion and trust. She says that no one has to die, especially her grandmother who passed away some time ago because of Covid. This monologue with poetic touches becomes angrier and its music accelerates in harmony with the child’s pain. But now the night have come again, and we are able to hear another a voice in the background from a singer.
The voice is from Padma Shree Dr Soma Ghosh (lyrics Sanjoy Mishra) and her song opens a new day, a new dawn. The background is close to be hopeful and encouraging. And that hope is brought by Anayah Nirvana, another young girl who asks herself questions.
It Is in the middle of these intriguing scenes that the director of this production, T. M. Ahmed Kaysher, appears and makes some references to different writers, such as the Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes, and then he reads a poem from Paul Celan, “Tenebrae”:
Tenebrae by Paul Celan We are near, Lord, near and at hand. Handled already, Lord, clawed and clawing as though the body of each of us were your body, Lord. Pray, Lord, pray to us, we are near. Wind-awry we went there, went there to bend over hollow and ditch. To be watered we went there, Lord. It was blood, it was what you shed, Lord. It gleamed. It cast your image into our eyes, Lord. Our eyes and our mouths are open and empty, Lord. We have drunk, Lord. The blood and the image that was in the blood, Lord. Pray, Lord. We are near.
“Pray Lord, we are near” are the final verses that Kaysher reads, while his image melts with the landscape, when another girl, Anvita Gupta, enters the scene.
Anvita has a Ganesha within her little hands, and she also demands explanations about the pandemic. She asks questions with simplicity while in the background we are able to hear the music of the Iranian poet Niknaz Nirghalami.
What comes next is a vessel, a dramatic tense music and an artist writing lyrics on a clay, ‘if you cut my head with your sword, I will dance in my blood in that moment’.
By the end, the singer Srimati Koyel Bhattacharya interprets a song while different landscapes come together.
‘Letters to God’ is a short film about anger and fury provoked by the uncertainty in these difficult and pandemic times. It is about faith in dark times, and grasping and admiring life above all, while not expecting a God or a superior force to resolve human complexities, but to make us stronger to go through the questions of the unintelligible. It is during the short film that there are mentions of blood and joy, both together, as a call to live life fully and to celebrate, even in the hardest times, because we are still grateful to be alive.
To watch the short film:
Padma Shree Dr Soma Ghosh (Vocal)
Sangita Chatterjee (Kathak)
Koyel Bhattacharya (Vocal)
Niknaz Mirghalami ( #Iranian poetry and music)
Chandrimaa Roy ( Poetry Recitation)
Shree Ganguly ( Poetry recitation)
Tanisha Chowdhury (Spoken-word)
Anvita Gupta (Spoken-word)
Anayah Nirvana (Spoken-word)
Ramprapanna Bhattacharya (Sitar)
Background music for dance:
Creative management and editing:
Script, concept and direction:
T M Ahmed Kaysher