From the Athens of Himalayas

Sep 13, 2011, 11:44 IST | rocky thongam
Documentary filmmaker Amlan Datta takes you beyond your cannabis-induced college fantasy to visit the land of ultimate utopia, and peep into one of the oldest republics of the world

What happens when you roll a Malana cream joint? It f****** ruins your head. Now what happens when a filmmaker rolls his camera in the remote village which produces this hash, touted to be the best in the world? Same effect � it f***** ruins your head.

Bom-One day ahead of Democracy, a documentary film by Amlan Datta, will try and help you look beyond the 'smoke and mirror' effect of our present democracy. "The myth revolving around this remote but much talked about village in Himachal Pradesh intrigued me. A village founded by the remnants of Alexander's army, the legend of Jamlu rishi, everything was very fascinating," says Datta.

But what actually attracted this filmmaker who admits growing up in a politically charged environment was Malana's reputation of being one of the first democracies in the world. "I haven't cast my vote in the past 23 years, I'm not even on the voter's list," informs Datta, clearly a filmmaker whose interest in Malana goes beyond the cream. "We elect our representatives in the prevalent democratic system, but if you study Malana's ancient system they select (their representatives)," he says.    

According to Datta, the film is a story of transition, 'an ancient civilisation being invaded and obliterated by modern democracy'.  Datta tries to pan his camera on traditional culture and social practices, 'destroyed in the name of modern development'.

"There the villagers argue on a subject, all of them are part of the process. A certain sense of consciousness prevails among them," he says describing the village's unique model of democracy of consensus. "But look at rest of India, we are governed by a central committee, a group of people who impose their laws on us," he says. "Laws and rules can't bring change. But consciousness can," he adds.

The two-hour long film sans music (most of it was shot on location) took almost four years to make and was supposed to be completed last year. But Datta says it evolved and got a life of its own. "Now people have seen the trailer on the website ( and started giving their views. Theoretically, I just made the film but it is no longer mine. It belongs to the people who are getting involved," he says.

The film is about an ancient village to the north-east of Kullu valley but promises to stir up debate on subjects like nuclear disarmament. Like we said, this filmmaker will ruin your head. Pray, for good!

On: September 15
At: India International Centre, Main Auditorium
Timings: 6.30pm

Go to top