Producer: Lina Fruzzetti, Akos Ostor, Aditi Nath Sarkar
Director: Documentary Educational Resources
Year Released: 2005
Length: 40 minutes
Black and White
For generations, Patua (Chitrakar) communities of West Bengal, India have been painters and singers of stories depicted in scrolls. The Patuas tell the stories of Muslim shrines. In the past they used to wander from village to village, receiving rice, vegetables and coins for their recital. They would unroll a scroll, a frame at a time, and sing their own compositions. But competition from other media eroded this way of life and now the Patuas are trying to adapt to changing conditions. In response to this cultural crisis and as ameans to make extra money, recently a group of women from Naya village near Calcutta formed a scroll painters' collaborative. They discuss the problems and rewards of practicing their art, and speak freely about the social, religious, and political changes in the village and the world beyond. Their wisdom, artistry, and good humor amidst many difficulties illuminate the lives around them.