Three Times Piparsod: Life in an Indian Village

Jean-Luc Chambard, Raymond Depardon, Saeed Akhtar Mirza
France, India | original

It all began with the idea to ini­ti­ate a cul­tur­al exchange: Two film­mak­ers, an Indian and a French­man, were to create their own per­son­al take on the same sub­ject. Both were given the same time­frame and the same tech­ni­cal con­di­tions for the project. As an out­sider, the view of the French­man remains on the sur­face of things: he por­trays his ini­tial impres­sion of exter­nal appear­ances with­out prepa­ra­tion, with­out knowl­edge of the lan­guage. The camera becomes the instru­ment of this dis­cov­ery and its “naïve” pre­sen­ta­tion. Ray­mond Depar­don, reporter, pho­tog­ra­ph­er, and great film­mak­er of the cinema direct is able to pull off this very dif­fi­cult feat. His Indian coun­ter­part is Saeed A. Mirza, who is famil­iar with the real­i­ties of life in India and has made a name for him­self as a social­ly engaged filmmaker.


The future of India lies in its vil­lages,” Nehru once said. The vil­lage of Pipar­sod had already been researched for more than twenty years by the eth­nol­o­gist Jean-Luc Cham­bard, whose KALAVATI, shot in 1961, became an ini­tia­tive part of this tril­o­gy. Cham­bard pub­lished the book Atlas d’un vil­lage indien – Pipar­sod, Madhya Pradesh in 1980, and the pho­tog­ra­ph­er Marie-Laure de Decker was also involved in this inter­dis­ci­pli­nary project. The three parts of the tril­o­gy are not screened chrono­log­i­cal­ly, but in a move­ment from out­side to inside. First a dis­cov­ery with­out words, then a jump into social actu­al­i­ty and final­ly, like remem­ber­ing, the ethno­graph­ic backstory.



Indien, Frankre­ich 1961 / 35 Min. / Beta­cam­SP (von16mm) / OF

Regie, Kamera, Ton: Jean-Luc Cham­bard; Schnitt: Philippe Luzuy

KALAVATI fol­lows the life of women, a life that con­sists mostly of work: fetch­ing water, wash­ing laun­dry, braid­ing each other’s hair, col­lect­ing fruit, and prepar­ing food. They patch  a house with clay, give the walls and court­yard a smooth coat­ing, and art­ful­ly dec­o­rate the  floor with white orna­ments. The last third of the film doc­u­ments two major cel­e­bra­tions in which women play an impor­tant role: the Holi fes­ti­val and a ser­vice in the honor of a goddess.