Moonlight & Memories - in praise of older women
~ by Tom Alter
fort hunched over the top of the hill like an old man enjoying the view -
a solitary old man, alone but not lonely; his tattered coat of moss-covered
stones telling tales of fuller days gone by, and yet still sturdy enough to
protect the old man against the winds of both the night and time itself.
He had been admiring that view for centuries - as Marathas and Moghals and English came and went like the tide on the beach below, he just hunched a little closer to the hill, pulled the crumbling walls of his arms around himself, and simply let time fade away like every evening did, and return, smiling, like every morning.
And the view was enough to keep the old man smiling, too - mile after mile of beach, hugging the waters of the Arabian Sea to its sandy bosom; the old man had watched roads and buildings and towns blossom along the beach where for centuries there were only wind-swept trees and stubborn rocks. And now he watched even some of those buildings crumble - so much quicker than the buildings built by pirates and sailors and traders of yesteryear.
Across the mouth of the river leading into the bay was the temple - the Harihareshwar temple - otherwise known as Dakhani Kashi - where devotees had been coming for more centuries than even the old man could remember; and where devotees yet came today, to praise and search for god, and to relax and find at least temporary peace in the shade of the temple and the cottages built along the edge of the eternal waters.
The old man's fort was lovingly called Bankot Fort in honour of the town of the same name situated at the foot of the hill - a town deep in district Mandangarh, at the heart of the Konkan region, a town famous for shipping and - yes, smuggling - and mangoes; a town of Hindus and Muslims living together in peace; a town where time moves at the pace of the tides; a town from where a ten-minute drive can take a traveller to beaches and orchards and chuckling, rambling paths which lead from nowhere to nowhere.
A town where we went to shoot a film -
I was fortunate to have a car all to myself for the drive down from Mumbai - a sturdy Ambassador (my speed and style of car!) with an equally sturdy driver, and a supply of Rafi and Mukesh cassettes to make the very roads sing along! We left Mumbai in the early afternoon, and headed down the road to Goa from Panvel - within two hours, it was nothing but the flowing road and the land welcoming us with bowing trees and laughing birds and Mukesh serenading a long-lost love and stops for tea and biscuits; I would have been happy to travel thus for a few centuries, but our turn-off at Goregaon Patti, just before Mahad, arrived like a reminder of mortality, and we turned off into the embrace of the Konkan.
It was about two hours from there to Bankot, via Mandangarh - across drifting rivers and up easy slopes and through growing fields and rustling forests -- and it was just getting dark when we arrived and I was shown the lovely place where I would be staying - the bungalow of a dear friend of the producer, complete with a tiny, delightful swimming pool, and mango trees providing shade of the sweetest kind.
And the next day - again by late afternoon - we arrived at the Bankot Fort, our location for the night's shoot. Now, the old man had seen many, many things in his long life, but nothing like a film shoot, with its chaos and electric wires and dozens of unit members and shouting and tea being made like 'liquid halwa' and costumes and lights and actors and children and more shouting and a bewildered director and a bemused producer and a certain actor very concerned about watching the India/England World Cup match that evening; Bankot Fort had been invaded and captured by irresistible forces, and the old man could only sit back and chuckle, and sip at the 'liquid halwa'.
(The Sensational Six)
Film Society of India
Award Winner :
37th Annual WorldFest
Rahul Joshi, Aardra Athalye, Vinay, Anvay Ponkshe,
Raju (Dog), Ramu (Monkey)
Tom Alter, Ravindra Mankani, Mona Ambegaonkar, Bakul Thakker,
Jaydutt Vyas, Brij Bushan Shahani, Chittaranjan Giri, Rajeev Mishra,
Seema Ponkshe, Arun Hornekar
Shakuntala Paranjpye | Screenplay & Dialogues:
Camera: Sudhir Palsane | Edit: Jabeen Merchant | Sound: Narendra Singh
Music: Kamlesh & Vinod | Choreographer: Sonia Parchure
Art: Keshav Thakur | Production Manager: Atul Chavre
Asst. Directors: Sameer Naik, Samir Kazmi, Supriya Khan
Direction : Sridhar Rangayan
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