Interview conducted by Dr. Ovee Thorat
Karan graduated from Srishti Manipal Institute of Arts, Design, and Technology, Bengaluru. He is currently working as an Experience Designer with Airtel in Gurgaon.
"We slowly built a relationship with the warm people of Banni, with the daily customers and with those who chose to make their chai stop at Hodko.”
Ovee: Karan, please tell us about Rolgol.
“Rolgol is my graduation film, I made it in 2014. To this day, the time I spent filming Rolgol has left a lasting impact on me. Although I have changed my field of work, each time I think of Rolgol, I think of Banni and its people and feel an immediate yearning to return.”
Ovee: How did you go about making Rolgol?
“Varun Kurtkoti, my collaborator at the time, and I were in Banni to capture another dimension of Banni and Kutch - the music. However, we never really managed to take that off the ground. During our research and the shoot, we stayed at the RAMBLE’s* beautiful research station in Hodko village (which at the time had a young nilgai under the care of the caretaker). Deflated by the seeming failure, we spent hours in the chai shop opposite the Ramble station. Saidu, who later became one of the two main protagonists in the film, often accompanied/joined us here. Unbeknownst to us, we were slowly starting to experience Banni not as documentary filmmakers there to capture moments but as welcomed guests and eventually as friends of the land.”
“We slowly built a relationship with the warm people of Banni, with the daily customers and with those who chose to make their chai stop at Hodko. Fortunately, with my knowledge of Gujarati and Varun’s worldly, friendly smile and eagerness to learn, many conversations ensued at this chai shop (where we also racked up a fairly long bill). There emerged the two stories, one of Bhachaya, a Wai singer in training, in search of his lost buffalo; and the other of Saidu, a man with the most beautiful voice on that side of Banni on his way to harvest the baval (Prosopis juliflora) to turn into coal.”
Ovee: Is there a memory from your time in Banni that you would like to share with us?
“After spending many days of no filmmaking and only sharing anecdotes at the chai shop, we finished shooting this film in 2 days. I remember Varun and I had our last tea, discussing how we have no expectations from how the film will turn out, no anxiety if this film will be enough because the 21 days spent in Banni were already worth everything to us. I would do it all over again if I could.”
Watch the full film here.
*RAMBLE - ‘Research and Monitoring in the Banni Landscape’ is an open research platform with the chief mandate of facilitating disciplinary and interdisciplinary research on various aspects of the Banni grassland ecosystem, its pastoral communities, and their interactions with the grassland. Implicit in their approach is the understanding that ecological and social systems are intimately coupled, and neither can be fully understood independently of the other.