Article English (India)

Kho Ki Pa Lu preview: A musical portrait of Phek's community of rice cultivators


Filmmakers Anushka Meenakshi and Iswar Srikumar's documentary on the oral folk tradition of Nagaland's farmers is a sensory treat.

Suparna Thombare

Kho Ki Pa Lü or Up Down And Sideways is a musical portrait of the everyday lives of the community of rice cultivators in Phek, a town in Nagaland.

The people of this small place, with a population of only around 5,000, often come together in farming cooperatives called müle. Kho Ki Pa Lü captures their memories of love and loss.

Kho Ki Pa Lü is a phrase used to describe polyphony in the Chokri language spoken in Nagaland. It means that sound goes up, goes down and moves sideways.

The documentary begins with a bunch of women and then men working in the rice fields on steep mountain slopes as they sing the Li, a kind of love song that can never be sung alone — a metaphor for how one needs the other, friends or family, and how together as a community one can sustain and flourish.

The film follows one cycle of rice cultivation and the songs that go with it. As the seasons change, so, too, does the music, going from pleasant to hypnotic. The depiction of labour and singing is unhurried, giving you ample time to soak in the atmosphere and mood in every scene. 

Interviews with members of the community explore the tradition, the process of singing and working at the same time, and the various emotions behind these songs.

Set in the oral folk tradition of this Northeastern region. Kho Ki Pa Lü is a sensory treat — musically and visually stunning. Filmmakers Anushka Meenakshi and Iswar Srikumar, with six years of research behind them, have made an accomplished film that transports you to a cinematically unexplored culture of a largely unexplored part of the country. 

Watch the trailer of Kho Ki Pa Lü here.

Kho Ki Pa Lü will be screened at IAWRT India's Asian Women's Film Festival at the India International Centre, New Delhi, on Tuesday 6 March 2018 at 7:35 pm.

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IAWRT Asian Women's Film Festival