[nyfoil-l] Guiana 1838 in Jersey City March 5
rr6 at columbia.edu
Sat Feb 26 22:01:26 CST 2005
2 movies on Saturday March 5th, in Jersey City:
The Right & the Wrong
Tickets are also available at the Box Office!!!
For more information, please call:
718-777-2560 or 631-804-5972 or 914-661-6626
http://www.belizefilmfestival.com/press.htm has photos.
"GUIANA 1838" to open 3rd Belize International Film Festival
The Historic docu-drama "GUIANA 1838," which sold out virtually
every screening since its premiere in Sept., 2004 - and breaking US
box office records in the process - has been selected to open the
Third Edition of the Belize International Film Festival on Monday,
February 21st, 2005 at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts in
"Incredible is the only word that can be used to describe the preview
of 'GUIANA 1838,' the Rohit Jagessar film that focuses on the
abolition of slavery and the arrival of Indians in the British West Indies
during the 19th century. The vivid cinematography on 'GUIANA 1838'
sucks the viewer in immediately and takes one through the journey of
indentured laborers arriving on the ship, the Hesperus, and the
conflict that initially ensues between the black slaves and the new
arriving Indian ones."
- Online West Indian Times (July 18th 2004)
When the abolition of slavery in the British Caribbean in 1834
prompted The Gillanders, Arbuthnot & Company in Calcutta, a part of
the East India Company, to recruit Coolies from India to fill the
resulting labor void, the company hires Sinha, a fierce small timer to
sell dreams of El Dorado to the unsuspecting, impoverished Coolies.
They are signed to five-year contracts as indentured servants. Upon
the Coolies' arrival in British Guiana in 1838, the British planters
promptly enslaves them to ensure that the growth of sugar in the
British West Indies will continue uninterrupted. John Scoble of the
British and Foreign Anti Slavery Society arrives on the colony a year
later to discover a new form of slavery; this time on the backs of
Indians. (The film's trailer can be viewed at www.guiana1838.com)
Rohit Jagessar - Director of Guiana 1838
This is definitely one for the West Indian brothas and sistas, but we
should ALL check it out. Why? Its a mad good movie, thats why!
by Khalid Ilahi
Every once in a while comes along a meaningful, impactful feature
film for South Asians and for all those of South Asian-decent. Yes, in
the cloudy rinku tinku world of Bollywood cinema, where we all get
caught up in the song and dance around the mystic mountains and
trees, exists a reality. A reality that only exists to some, a reality that
some intentionally remain ignorant to.
Not Rohit Jagessar, director of the epic Guiana 1838, now in select
theaters. Rohit has put seven plus years of his life into this project,
and its outcome is self-explanatory. Having cast a Bollywood legend,
Kumar Gaurav joined Rohit's cast and the end result is a magnificient
film showcasing a part of Desi history that we should all be aware of.
Everyone should realize where we all come from, where we've been
and where we're going. This movie beautifully tells us the story of
Guiana, how it came to be and why. I would be embarrassed for our
people if we did not watch this film. A good way to describe it would
be to call it an epic drama, and I was lucky enough to talk to the man
behind it, Rohit Jagessar.
Khalid Ilahi: What initially motivated/influenced you to take on this
project? Rohit Jagessar: As a little boy growing up, my grandmother
used to tell me stories about the people that were brought on ships by
the British Planters from India to British Guiana during the 19th
century. Over a period of 80 years, well over 1 million Indians were
shipped out from India to many parts of the world to labor on British
plantations. My grandmother and her parents made the voyage more
than 100 years ago.
I visited the University of Lucknow to begin research on the subject
and to my surprise not even the professors there were aware about
this part of India's history. This compelled me even more to make this
story into a feature film.
KI: What other projects have you worked on prior to Guiana 1838?
RJ: Guiana 1838 is my first film.
KI: Wow, it being your first film, what did you take away from the
experience? What was your favorite thing about directing and what
was your least favorite? RJ: Directing Guiana 1838 is an experience I
will cherish for a long time to come. Before doing the film I spent a
large part of the last twenty five years producing music, concerts and
radio shows. Through these experiences I knew I had to be hands on
during the production of my film.
I remained completely in charge right from day one and always went
by my instincts. From the reviews and advance ticket sales this has
paid off big time for me. I think all film makers should stick to their
guns if they are striving for originality. On film sets everyone is
suddenly a film maker. Even the clapper boy. It is good to listen
attentively as this promotes harmony, which is always encouraged but
at the end of the day you have got to go with your gut feeling. Afterall,
it is your film and film making is a director's medium.
My most favorite part of directing is knowing exactly what I want for
my audience and I fight for it. At times, I would shoot a scene from
backwards to the beginning. The actors cannot comprehend the tactic
and this prompts them to think. The more you involve actors to
participate the better their performance will come out.
The least favorite thing about directing for me is having to deal with
the occasional unprofessional behavior. It comes with the territory.
When it does, I set things right and move on with my shoot. I don't
think there is any other sensible way to handle these things but to take
care of them as and when it comes up. The focus should always
remain on good film making and cordial people management.
KI: What kind of research was required for historical accuracy?
Where did you go, what did you have access to? RJ: I spent seven
years researching the story and put together around 50,000 pages of
research materials, illustrations and map routes of the ships. The one
thing I noticed was a lot of published materials were inconsistent with
history. Therefore, I spent a lot of time cross checking the papers to
make sure my story was accurate. While doing the research I also
visited historical sites such as the Bay of Bengal from where the first
ships departed India for the British West Indies in 1838. I also visited
Liverpool, where the slave traders were based and various parts of
Uttar Pradesh and Calcutta from where Indians were recruited for the
voyages. These visits prompted the imagination and were helpful to
me while writing the screenplay for the film.
"...I made a film that I would like to see myself..."
KI: What did you look for in the actors/actresses you chose to be in
your film? RJ: Right from the inception I instructed my casting director
Puja Bathija that I wanted actors and the main focus must be on their
complete dedication and hard work since the shoot was going to be a
tough one. Then there was the depth of the actors as my film is a
period piece dealing with the struggles and ultimate triumph of the
Indians on foreign soil. Puja responded with what will perhaps
become the best crop of actors ever put together for a film. I recently
showed my film to a select audience and they were amazed to see a
film where each and every actor engages the audience and remained
true to their characters from start to finish.
Guiana 1838KI: How was it working with Kumar Gaurav? RJ: Working
with Bunty (Kumar Gaurav) was a complete experience in film
making. He is an exceptional actor and his skills and talents lifted the
character of Laxman beyond expectations. He is a hard worker and
completely dedicated to his craft. I can see why he is extremely
selective about his films. As a person, one cannot ask for a better
human being to work with. On the sets he is a thorough professional
and listens attentively to the director and has full confidence in what
he is about to do. I think this was his toughest shoot and when things
got too intense for me as director he would come out of no where and
say "hi Rohit, good morning". He would smile as if to say don't worry, I
am here and we are all with you. I am certain the audience will be
impressed with Bunty's performance. He lights up the screen in what
will perhaps go down in history as one of the most brilliant
performances in cinema.
KI: On a personal level, do you think imperialism helped or hurt
Guiana? RJ: I think the colonies needed to be developed in those
early years and for the required resources, powerful countries were
needed. Where imperialism went wrong was with the methods that
were applied, they were highly inappropriate. The powerful nations
should have fed the hands that did the work in developing the colonies
instead of cutting them off. Therefore, imperialism failed to cultivate
nations through development.
KI: Can you give us an idea of the expectations you have from your
audiences? RJ: I have spent the last seven years making my film and
all through these years I have been thinking of this question. I can say
with full confidence that I made a movie keeping the audience in full
focus at all times and I am sure the audience will in turn benefit from
this. It is their film. It is the story of our Indian people thrown into a
system they did not come looking for and were caught by complete
surprise when the British planters enslaved those that made the early
voyages from India to British colonies in the West Indies. My
expectation is that the audience will feel the intensity and suspense of
the story and journey through the 19th century along with the
characters up on the screen.
KI: Will we be seeing more work from you in the future? What are
some of your upcoming projects? RJ: My upcoming films are the
continuation of the Guiana 1838 trilogy, a feature film on the life and
times of the great poet, writer and composer Rabindranath Tagore
and Porkknockers based on the legend of the Amazon region of
KI: Any final message for DesiClub.com's readers? RJ: I am in good
company with all of DesiClub.com's readers as I visit the portal for
useful information, updates and happenings on a regular basis. I think
everyone will find my film as a complete cinematic experience and
they will be proud of my film as it is made keeping the audience in
mind. I can assure everyone that I made a film that I would like to see
myself and therefore it is a film made especially for the audience. I
took all the things I don't like about cinema and kept them aside and
made a film with the things I like to watch on the big screen. My film,
Guiana 1838 is a film for the people, about the people.
Thank you for your time. I enjoyed this interview thoroughly and thank
you for asking me questions which are not normally asked.
And that's why we're DesiClub.com Rohit!
For more info on this movie, show times, updates, keep a constant
tab on The Guiana 1838 Website.
Do you have any thoughts on this? Feel free to send Khalid an e-mail
@ Khalid Ilahi.
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