• Poster for BOM
  • Still from film
  • Still from film
  • Still from film
  • Still from film
  • Still from film

TBIP’s documentary film recommendation 

Bom or One Day Ahead of Democracy by Amlan Datta is a very curious study of the lives of the people of Malana, an isolated village in the Himalayas, in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. These people, known for making the best Hashish in the world, also sustain what is said to be one of the world’s oldest democracies. They believe Malana is a republic in its own right, to be governed by a locally elected council which bears no allegiance to the hegemonic Panchayati Raj structure that the panchayats of other villages in Himachal Pradesh subscribe to. They worship their own deity, make their own laws and their politics is independent of the Indian state. I call this a ‘curious’ study, because, unlike other documentaries on the village like Malana: Globalization Of A Himalayan Village or Malana, A Lost IdentityOne Day Ahead Of Democracy is not an objective anthropological account, even if for Amlan it began that way. What began with a smoker’s interest in where this amazing hash comes from, and a visit to the village with Election Commission officials, went on to become a personal journey. He stayed back in the village even after the officials left. He befriended the head of the village council, was adopted into one of the families there and ended up adopting two children from Malana. As a result Amlan’s documentation of the villagers’ way of life becomes an argument for it. His account of Malana’s reluctance to be a part of the Indian electoral system, its suspicion of a power plant that has sprung up nearby and its abhorrence of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) officials who continue to raid it – progresses from the outside-in to the inside-out. So the film also becomes a study of the filmmaker himself who, over the course of filming, becomes an integral part of his subject. This extreme subjectivity of the filmmaker fascinates me.

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1 comments
paulamcglynn
paulamcglynn

Super cool! Where/when will it be available in Mumbai?

For Real

Specials
February 2013
By Q

Q is a filmmaker who has made independent movies like Bishh (Poison) and the provocative and acclaimed Gandu. He has also made the National Award winning documentary film Love In India, and another documentary called Le Pocha, and is currently in the middle of making another: Sari. His next film, Tasher Desh (Land of Cards), will be an adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore's play of the same name.