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ANNUAL SIKH FILM FESTIVAL 2006:
PALA

The film is a profile of Pala, a storyteller from Punjab. It deals with the diversity of the centuries old storytelling and musical tradition of which he is a part, but a tradition which is rapidly on decline.

It’s the moon which determines the festive and cultural calendar of India. It’s according to the dates determined by the moon that Pala and his musicians travel to various parts of Punjab, singing and narrating tales of pirs, fakirs, ascetics, gurus, gods, demons, princes, kings and queens. Tales from the cultural and religious cauldron of Punjab, tales that have given the land its identity, and its people their faith.

The film is a profile of Pala, a storyteller from Punjab, the state in north-west India. It deals with the diversity of the centuries old storytelling and musical tradition of which he is a part, but a tradition which is rapidly on decline. He and his group of musicians travel across Punjab, performing at Hindu temples, Sikh gurudwaras, mosques, shrines of Sufi saints and at various village fairs, thereby highlighting the plurality of the religious and cultural fabric of Punjab. Pala claims to belong to no particular faith and can with ease transform himself and his musical talent to suit the needs of the space where he is performing. What he represents is a kind of folk religion, which has assimilated the traits of all the three principal faiths of Punjab, namely Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam.

Besides documenting the musical and cultural tradition which he represents, the film deals with Pala’s thoughts which very often revolve around the meaning and interpretation of god, the practice of religion, and the social, cultural and technological changes that have occurred in Punjab over the past many years. Changes which have altered social life, and also affected the livelihood of the traditional folk performer. Despite all odds, they continue to keep alive the tradition of narrating folk legends, out of sheer love and passion for their vocation.

Pala

Directed by Gurvinder Singh

Running Time: 83 minutes