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Image above: Dharminder Kaur as the Mother. Thumbnail image on homepage: Serbjeet Kaur as Dayalo. Below, photo of Gurdial Singh, is by Subhash Parihar.


Gurvinder Singh's Film in Venice Film Biennale




Anhey Ghorhey da Daan  (Alms of the Blind Horse), a film in Punjabi directed by Gurvinder Singh and based on the novel of the same title by Gurdial Singh, has been selected for the prestigious Venice International Film Festival - the 68th Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica - which is to be held from August 31, 2011 to  September 10, 2011.

This is the first Punjabi film to make it to an international film festival of this calibre. It will participate in the Competition section. 

Gurvinder Singh joins the ranks of of filmmakers inspired by experimentation such as Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt, Mauro Andrizzi, Joseph Dabernig, Edgardo Cozarinsky and Wattanapume Laisuwanchai. And this, in the year when the Visual Arts Biennale has dedicated a special space to artists who work with images in motion.

Being presented in the Orizzonti Division, what distinguishes Gurvinder Singh’s Punjabi 112-min debut film is “the power of the framed image and the subversion of film editing”.

The film produced by the National Film Development Corporation - NFDC - was shot in Bathinda, Punjab earlier this year. It has professional actors, such as the role played by Samuel John of Patiala; he plays the lead role of 'Melu'. As well, there is a contingent of non-professional local Punjabi actors.


On a foggy winter morning, a family in a village in Punjab wakes up to the news of the demolition of a house on the outskirts of the village. The father, a silent sympathizer, joins the community in its demand for justice. The same day, his son Melu, a rickshaw puller in the city, is participating in a strike by his union. Injured and alienated, Melu spends the day quietly resting and hesitantly drinks with friends into the night as they debate the meaning of their existence.

Cycling through the city streets, Melu feels lost and wonders where to go and what to do. Back in the village, his mother feels humiliated at the treatment meted out by the very landlords in whose fields she works. Gunshots are heard in the night and the village is tense. It’s the night of the lunar eclipse. A man wanders around, asking for the traditional alms while Father decides to visit the city with a friend, even as his daughter Dayalo walks through the village streets in the night.

Director’s Comment

The human face is a landscape. The lived reality of the face reflects time: endured, lived and suffered. Cinema unravels time through the movement in space. The visible evokes the invisible through relationships, contexts, gestures, conflicts. There is the immediate invisible, off screen: the image confronting sound, space confronting space, time confronting time. Then there is the larger cosmic invisible, devoid of cause and effect paradigm, layered through centuries.

Anhey Ghorhey da Daan tries to evoke the effect of years of subordination of the struggling classes reflected in the macrocosm of events spinning beyond their control. It’s about silent witnesses devoid of power to change or influence the course of destiny, about the invisible violence of the power equation and the simmering discontent reflected on their faces.

Director’s Bio

Graduating from Delhi University in 1995, he worked briefly as a graphic artist in advertising before post graduating from Pune University. He went on to study film direction at the Film and Television Institute (FTII), Pune, graduating in 2001. He documented subaltern folk music in Punjab from 2002 to 2006. He made documentaries on the arts for the next few years, besides painting and cooking.

Anhey Ghorhey da Daan is his first feature film. He currently lives in Pune. 

Cast & Crew 

Main Cast: Mal Singh, Samuel John, Serbjeet Kaur, Dharminder Kaur, Emmanuel Singh, Kulwinder Kaur, Lakha Singh, Gurvinder Makhna

Script & Direction: by Gurvinder Singh

Story: Gurdial Singh (based on the novel of the same name)

Dialogue: Gurdial Singh, Jasdeep Singh

Music: Catherine Lamb

Camera: Satya Rai Nagpaul

Sound: Mandar Kulkarni

Editing: Ujjwal Chandra

Production Design: Pankaj Dhimaan

Line Producer: Kartikeya Narayan Singh

Executive Producers: Neena Lath Gupta & Vikramjit Roy

Creative Producer: Mani Kaul

Producer: National Film Development Corporation Limited 


July 28, 2011

Conversation about this article

1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), July 28, 2011, 7:16 AM.

Gurvinder's "Anhey Ghorhey da Daan" portends to be in the same class as "Ankur" - 'The Seedling', which was directed by Shyam Benegal and was also the debut of Shabana Azmi's superb performance. It went on to sweep three National Films awards and win some 45 other awards both in India and abroad. It was also nominated for the Golden Bear at the 24th Berlin International Film Festival. Wish you best of luck and may your film be the new 'Ankur' ... and more.

2: Gurmeet Kaur (Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.), July 28, 2011, 10:50 AM.

This is indeed exciting news. Best wishes, Gurvinder Singh ji, for an attempt to build a meaningful future for Punjabi cinema. I truly believe that the next revolution of ideas in Punjab will need to be media driven. Such endeavors need to be encouraged and supported.

3: Roop (United Kingdom), July 28, 2011, 4:19 PM.

About time we had a proper Punjabi film, not in the style of Bollywood pablum and similar nonsense. Good films are based on the novels in the language.

4: Subhash Parihar (Kot Kapura, Punjab), July 28, 2011, 5:45 PM.

I was so excited by the news that last night I saw the film in my dream. Best wishes, Gurvinder Singh jeo!

5: Sami Dhillon (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), July 30, 2011, 4:09 AM.

We urgently need to take Punjabi cinema in this direction. Congratulations, Gurvinder jeo!

6: Danyal Rasheed (Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan), August 03, 2011, 2:18 AM.

I'm from Lahore, Pakistan ... really excited about this film. When and how can we in Pakistan see it?

7: Gurmeet Singh Rai (New Delhi, India ), December 30, 2011, 12:56 AM.

Congratulations, Gurvinder, we look forward to watching the film in Delhi - been told it will be screened on the 12th of January!

8: Harbhajan Singh Dhandi (Mohali, Punjab), August 08, 2012, 6:55 AM.

You are doing a good job to uplift Punjabi cinema. Keep it up.

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