films – Cinema Akil

The Other Song
Saba Dewan
India | G | 120 mins | Documentary | Punjabi (English Subtitles)

In 1935 Rasoolan Bai, the well- known singer from Varanasi, recorded for the gramophone a thumri that she would never sing again - My breasts are wounded, don't throw flowers at me. A variation of her more famous song - My heart is wounded, don't throw flowers at me, the 1935 recording, never to be repeated, faded from public memory and eventually got lost.

More than seventy years later the film travels through Varanasi, Lucknow and Muzzafarpur in Bihar to search for the forgotten song. This journey brings the film face to face with the enigmatic figure of the tawaif, courtesan, bai ji and the contested terrain of her art practise and lifestyle. To find the lost other song the film must understand the past and present of the tawaif and  unravel the significant transitions that took place in late 19th and early 20th century around the control, censorship and moral policing of female sexualities and cultural expression.