GAGGARA (2008, Tulu)

Posted: November 20, 2016 in 100 remarkable Indian films, Regional


Frankly speaking, in spite of having spent half a century in India, I have never heard about a community speaking the language TULU. It was a pleasant surprise to catch a wonderful film made in this language recently, a language spoken in South India.

The film traces the life of a traditional performing artist of the community speaking Tulu. He is an elderly person, a boozer who is carrying the mantle of being a Kola dancer – an inheritance bequeathed on him by his forefathers who were Kola dancers for generation. His son, who often went without food because his father spent his little earnings (for about five months in a year) on drinking, resolved to break out of the family profession. Working hard at studies, he manages a reasonably good paying job as a teacher.

However, fate deals a cruel blow to his aspiration  as his father falls from a tree and fractures his leg. He is advised not to perform Kola dance ever again. The village elders and his father now implore the son to give up teaching and carry on the family tradition of being a Kola dancer. After initial resistance, the son  agrees to the proposal of his father…

Gagaras (bells) are ornaments tied to the legs of Bhoota Kola performers. Bhoota Kola are performed usually between October and May in this region. Directed by Shiv Dhwaj, the film won National Award in 2008 for best regional film. Its duration is one hour and 50 minutes.

This is a thought provoking film and offers insight into the lives of hardship of performing artists, the struggles of their progeny caught between keeping the family tradition alive and the demands of education in a modern society .  I found some echoes of Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s BAGH BAHADUR and the Konkani film DIGANT in this work.

Rating: 4.4 out of 5


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