In 1957 Roberto Rossellini set out for India to make two films simultaneously, a documentary and a five-episode 35mm film, a work of fiction by Sonali Sen Roy Das Gupta and Fereydoun Hoveyda, shot in an almost documentary style. There were numerous complications, and finally shooting had to stop because of the arising scandal stemming from the director's blossoming romance with the married scenarist Sen Roy. India Matri Bhumi (1957-59) is a series of four episodes on contemporary India, each documenting the interaction between human and animal, tradition and technology. The first section deals with the love and affection of mahouts - elephants' keepers - for the elephants. The second part concerns a labor worker in a dam near the Ganges river in Benares, with references to death and funerals. The third part is about an old man and a man-eating tiger. The fourth and most remarkable section involves a desperate pet monkey whose master has died due to a heat wave. Rossellini uses a combination of circular, swooping tracking shots, pans, and zooms to conjure up a strange yet personal vision of India, in rich and fascinating color photography. (EH)

Filmmaker
Roberto Rossellini
Country
France, Italy
Year
1959
Medium
35mm
Length
90’
Language
Producer
Aniene Film, UGC International
Sales
Kramsi
Writer
Roberto Rossellini, Sonali Sen Roy Das Gupta, Fereydoun Hoveyda
Cinematography
Aldo Tonti
Editor
Cesare Cavagna
Music
Philippe Arthuys, Traditional Indian music