Shimla: It is a great irony that it took a decade for Himachal to witness ‘Malana, in search of’ (perhaps the only nationally noticeable behind-the-camera contribution from the state), when it was screened at the Gaiety theater on the concluding day of Indian Panorama Film Festival yesterday. The reaction from viewers was of course overwhelming, and a bit bewildering too as most of them were unaware of the film and also the man behind it.
Directed by Shimla-born Vivek Mohan, the award-winning film portrays the tough life and ancient culture of land-locked Malana village, which has its own system of governance and judiciary. While giving introduction on the film, the village has been described as ‘living fossil’ of ancient Indian republics by the director.
The film highlights how people in Malana sort out their issues with consensus. Only exceptional cases go to the supreme ruling deity Lord Jamlu (not to be confused with Jamdagni Rishi!). Their entire lives are woven around discussions and more deliberations till a consensus is arrived. Vivek’s camera entered each nook and corner of this unique village, capturing the real life moments of the Malanian people in their original characters.
The work also highlights another significant aspect of Malana – its bicameral parliament (Ra Deo – rule in the name of God) having upper (Jayeshthang – elders) and lower house (Haryang – all heads of family whether man or woman). The upper house has eight elected members, two each from four different (our diversity) clans in upper and lower halves of the village plus three top officials, namely, Gur (mouthpiece of the deity), Kardaar (the PM) and Pujari (the religious priest). All adult head of the families, including women, vote. They all have terms, including other official functionaries like ministries, and parliamentary committees. For most of us democracy is ‘once-in-five-years’ official holiday with no accountability in between. But here they live it every day, the film portrays.
Any dispute beyond the village parliament is referred to Lord Jamlu via a special procedure, which is binding of all and sundry. “The point is that they believe in the true spirit of democracy and abide by it. Yes, we too have a Supreme Court which is running this country anyway! Another thing…they don’t throw slippers, mikes, furniture, etc. during even heated debates,” Vivek Mohan said after the screening of the film.
The film lack in ambiance in video and narration at some frames but it has powerful impact on the viewers as Malanian survives in frozen temperature during the winters. The villagers still remains active during the season, feeding their cattle i.e. sheep and goat, and performing important religious and social gathering.