“No one sends a copy of the film they make on us.”
That’s Basudeb Das, Baul singer from Bolpur, speaking. I made a short documentary on Basudeb da – and sent it to him. He was happy precisely because he never believed we would. That has not been his experience of journalists and filmmakers visiting him for a story.
His family had welcomed me happily when I visited, and helped me do the project. His wife, daughter and son were also part of the film. I shot the film in mid-2015 but only got it published in August this year after completion of the post-production work on it. I was determined to share the finalised film with the Baul family.
Basudeb da recalled the shoot and our interaction. He was delighted to know the film was up, and overwhelmed by the realisation that a copy of it was on its way to him. That’s when he said: “I am very happy. No one sends a copy of the film they make on us. They forget us as soon as their work has been done.” He quickly told Sumana, his daughter, about the news and transferred the phone to her. She gave me the phone number of her brother Subhomoy and his wife – the only ones in the family who access the internet. Subhomoy, himself a Baul musician, was in Paris for a performance. I shared the link of the story Basudeb Baul: singing the ballads of Bengal and the film with them via WhatsApp.
Subhomoy messaged and thanked me for recording and archiving his father’s music and said we would be welcome at their house whenever we next visited West Bengal.