God On A Leash

Logline

An ancestral artform survives through the veneration of Hanuman, a hindu deity with a monkey face and human body.

Synopsis

Eleven year old Rohit belongs to a community of ‘Behrupiyas’, traditional impressionist who train their kids to act like apes. The fringe community survives under abject poverty, tied firmly to their belief of a Hindu mythological deity Hanuman, Half monkey-half human’, a symbol of selfless devotion and strength.

Concept

God on a Leash is the story of being held on a leash to the hands of faith, heritage and poverty through an excavation of the relation between humanism and divinity. Eleven year old Rohit belongs to a community of ‘Behrupiyas’, traditional impressionists who train their children to act like apes. This fringe community survives under abject poverty, tied firmly to their belief in the power of a Hindu mythological deity 'Hanuman: half monkey half human', a symbol of selfless devotion and strength. The story follows Rohit, who wishes to become a policeman or doctor but is instead forced into the practice. In the end, he embodies the deity and what it stands for - in more ways than one. God on a Leash unearths the larger web of restrictive ideologies that twine our minds and bodies, connecting us in kinship to the trapped figures populating this film’s artistic landscape. I was acquainted with this cultural practice at a very young age and through this film, I attempted to observe and unravel the predicament of a child tied on a emblematic leash of poverty, faith and heritage. I was personally moved by how the practice of veneration of a symbol of strength unearths an unbreakable cycle of physical, social and material oppression. India is facing an increasing forms of religious radicalization. It is easy to forget what religion imbues for the disenfranchised. God on a Leash strives to scratch the surface of what might appear a mere spectacle.

Director's Statement

I was acquainted with this cultural practice at a very young age and through this film, I attempted to observe and unravel the predicament of a child trapped in a web of poverty, faith and heritage. I was personally moved by how the practice of veneration of a symbol of strength unearths an unbreakable cycle of physical, social and material oppression. I was also motivated by the idea of capturing a rare insight into the lives of niche performers, pushed to the fringes of the society. I experienced aspects of great profundity mixed with sorrow while capturing the child get ready and perform on the streets. My attempt was to impart visceral qualities of a rustic folk tale to the piece through the camera and sound work.