The Shepherdess and the Seven Songs (Laila Aur Satt Geet) [In-Person Only]
$13 General Admission
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Director Pushpendra Singh’s beautiful new film is a feminist fable set in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir, a lush mountainous region claimed by both India and Pakistan. Based on a folktale by Rajasthani writer Vidaydan Detha as well as the life and poetry of 14 th century Kashmiri mystic Lalleshwari, Shepherdess follows a young bride, Laila (Navjot Randhawa, in a ferocious and unforgettable performance) who marries into a tribe of nomadic Bakarwal herders. Already harassed by local police as a minority, Laila finds herself targeted for her remarkable beauty by local officials.
Her implacable and ingenious manipulation of the men who want to possess her, and the patriarchy that wants to crush her, plays out in a series of seven chapters – the Song of Regret, the Song of Playfulness – each tied into a rapturous score by Naren Chandavarkar and Benedict Taylor. Like the mystical films of Sergei Parajanov, Singh weaves breathtaking visuals and music into a hypnotic and indelible experience. The film’s truly cosmic climax, where Laila attempts to shed the bonds of male desire and infatuation pursuing her, must be seen to be believed.
Description and images courtesy of Deaf Crocodile Films.
(Pushpendra Singh, India, 2019, 99 min, in Gojri & Hindi with English subtitles)
“The parallels to the Indian state’s excesses are evident, but Singh doesn’t belabor the point, reveling in the rich cultural specificities of the setting: the hybrid tongues and communal ways of the nomads; the folk songs, heavy with longing, that punctuate the film; and the valley’s steep, breathtaking topography, which intersects with Ranabir Das’s roving camera in hypnotic ways.” – Film Comment
“Feeling like a fireside tale told over a few winter nights, The Shephardess and the Seven Songs” weaves its magic like the slow, colourful thread of the region; a tapestry of many stories in one, a journey through a people’s shifting world that they try (in vain) to hold steady, and one woman’s journey to be something greater than she dreamed. – ScreenAnarchy