non-fiction | 64 mins | HD | Colour | 5.1 Sound
Konkanni, Marathi, English & Hindi | with English Subtitles
Director, Executive Producer & Cinematographer: Saumyananda Sahi
Producer: Films Division
Assistant Director: Abhijit Patil | Editor & Gaffer: Tanushree Das Sahi
Location Sound: Christopher Burchell, Adrien Roche, Tanushree Das Sahi, Susmit Bob Nath, Bigyna Dahal
Sound Design: Christopher Burchell
Featuring: Venisha Fernandes, Gurucharan Kurdikar
India Gold Competition, 18th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star, 2016
National Award for Best Sound Recording
Ever since the Salaulim Dam submerged the Kurdi census town in South Goa over three decades ago, 550 families have had to relocate and forge new lives elsewhere.
However, every year the waters recede and the ruins resurface for a few short weeks before the rains. During this time, past inhabitants return to what is left of their homes, to perform rituals, have picnics and remember their dead.
Gurucharan Kurdikar has vivid memories of his childhood in Kurdi – but now lives in a city far away. Venisha Fernandes was born after the submergence, but has grown up listening to stories of a lost paradise. Both return to search for where they belong – in places imagined and places real.
As Gurucharan and Venisha converse with a whole array of people, different aspects of the landscape and prior societal inter-relationships begin to emerge. The harsh memories of caste and feudal injustice are discussed with as much curiosity and fervor as personal stories of loss and longing. Yet while each community – be they Hindu, Christian, Muslim or the Gaonkar tribe – all tell of fractured histories, they share the fact of submergence just the same.
As Venisha and Guru join the members of each community to traverse the arid landscape into the depths of the Salaulim reservoir, they witness how gestures can bring to life trees and houses and rivers that are no more. They witness how the very act of remembering can also be an act of becoming part of the land.
My grandparents as well as my parents were born in different continents, and I am the child of each of their individual displacements. I am often considered a foreigner in the land of my upbringing, because of the colour of my skin.
In the story of how the people of Kurdi continue to go back and remember their fields and houses three decades after it was all submerged by the building of a dam, I saw a timeless allegory that resonated with my own restless search to understand what it means to belong.
The relation between memory and rootedness fascinates me – as we so often look for permanence and stability in the most fragile and illusive of phantoms: the stories of our past.
Kurdi over the years has become more than a place. Kurdi has come to represent what people have lost. Kurdi is the idea of being connected to the land.
As one of the characters in the film reflects, we so often tend to look at land purely in economic terms of monetary value and use. But what the people of Kurdi gently remind us is that land is also home to memory, and it is memory that gives meaning to our lives.