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Moreno D'E Bartolli,
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excellent melodrama revealing unrecorded cultural links
I saw the film a long time ago, after my interest in gypsy culture, music and history had been aroused by Kusturica's "Time of the gypsies". This film is, in comparison, practically unknown. However it manages to contextualize certain themes in the lives of Balkan gypsies. Set in a refugee camp run by the UN during the Balkan war, it is the story of a rom patriarch who is a good for nothing drunkard, with one vocation... he constantly dreams of returning 'home' to India (from where all gypsies are fabled to have started their cross-continental odyssey), to escape, once and for all, the persecution of gypsies by the local population. He befriends the UN area commander, an Indian, with the hope that the friendship would serve as a passport for him and his family to India. In the process, he even tolerates his daughter's dalliance with the UN commander, since he has been promised help with emigration by the guy. Ultimately, it ends in heartbreak, as the UN commander and his batallion of Indian troops are suddenly relocated, and he leaves without even a goodbye, leaving the daughter pregnant in the process. It is a poignant tale, but what was most interesting for me was the depiction of the hankering of the gypsies for Indian culture, in the form of Bollywood movies (there is a scene where the entire colony attends a open air screening of "Bobby" on VHS projected on a white sheet.
Even as I recognised the scene as a depiction of the projection of an unreachable hope, the kind of stuff that keeps u going... I thought ... if only they knew how much more intolerant Indian society was towards their marginalised! This is a flawed yet wonderful little film and should not be missed by anyone with any interest in gypsy life and culture, if not for anything, simply because it depicts the other side of the coin... the side which mythmakers Gatlif and Kusturica fail to address!
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