A hypothetical look into the life of a Rajasthani princess of yore, this video portrays a rarely accounted perspective from behind the bars of a fortified zenana.
Rajasthan, a land possessing the charm of a fairytale covered with an exotic blush of the desert dust. It’s architectural wonders, stories of fearless warriors and colourful cities made the state one of the top travel destinations in India. But somehow amongst this indisputable beauty and beneath the tales of courage and honour, the sad history remains mostly unnoticed.
This video depicts the other side of the state – the mostly unknown perspective of its princesses of yore. Seclusion of women, forced by the pride and tradition, in traveler’s eyes may seem like an exotic fable or a chapter of a dusty romantic novel. The thrill of living in a harem of a testosterone pumped warrior-lover is a common misconception, fuelled by the guidebooks, that conceals the misery of many wasted lives, loneliness within the walls of one’s own home and deep-rooted sadness.
This short video is an attempt to convey the feeling of emptiness and hopelessness that touched me as a visitor to Rajasthan’s fabulous mansions and palaces. But especially, it shows the sadness of two people, supposedly a husband and a wife, both desiring and needing love as all human beings but being trapped and confined by the complex web of beliefs, social expectations and stereotypes. The video explores one of the possibilities…
Secluded in zenanas, birds in a golden cage. Manoeuvring through galleries behind the elaborate sandstone bars. Concubines and wives, all those fates confined by overbearing male hands. A breathing mausoleum, a house to solitude. Can love still live here?
Through a pinhole, heartrendingly, stalking shadows. Banned even from speaking to the husband [in daylight]… restricted just to signing. Only through a casement, only from afar. Hidden behind the purdah even in the husband’s house.
She, silenced with lavishness, soothed with opulence, lulled by the fairytales of honour and shame.
She, who is of a man, for that man and by that man. Where does She escape?
(Grand Prize winner of the “India Is” competition organised by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.)
// Camera : Canon 5d Mark II
// Lenses : Canon 100 2.8 IS, Sigma 50 1.4
// Editing/Grading : After Effects
// Music : Escala – Requiem For A Tower
//Director/ DOP/ Editor: Gloria Kurnik
For stills, check the project on behance.