“Each day comes like a new torment/Sunless or sunlit, it’s all the same. It’s a strange tale, my friend/Of days that grind and nights that rend,” intones Patru the pickpocket (Ravindra Sahu) in theatre stalwart Anamika Haksar’s debut feature film, Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon, which released in selected theatres on June 10, two years after it was selected to be screened in The New Frontiers section of the Sundance Film Festival, the only Indian film in that category. Patru is the centrepiece of the multi-layered universe inhabited by the poor Haksar portrays in her film: the hardscrabble worlds of the street vendors, migrant workers, loaders, daily-wagers and several others struggling to make ends meet in Shahjahanabad, Old Delhi. “They are people who survive against great odds with a lot of warmth and compassion,” Haksar tells Outlook.
Quirky, offbeat and experimental, Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane... is beautiful in its bleakness, epic in its vision, and radical in its visual politics. After seven-years-long ethnographic fieldwork in the winding alleys of Old Delhi, the Mumbai-based theatre veteran has come up with a love song for the precariat.