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After Word review: An ode to Delhi and the inventiveness of the street

Release Date: 2017 / 21min

Cinestaan Rating

  • Direction:

Sukhpreet Kahlon

Mallika Visvanathan’s short documentary examines the hidden histories and stories embedded in the city.

In the words of Margaret Atwood, “A word after a word after a word is power”. Mallika Visvanathan’s short documentary After Word excavates stories that are hidden, forgotten or left behind as she examines language and history through the prism of time.

On the pavements of Daryaganj in Delhi is the famed book market, a motley collection of old books in heaps, waiting patiently at street corners for someone to discover them. A seller of old books holds up a publication from 1919, lamenting about how so few read Urdu nowadays. 

In another vignette, a woman typist informs us about the sophistication of Hindi, a language that has joint letters, unlike modern English. What ties the dusty Remington typewriters being brought back to life and the collection of old books is an unfinished, unposted letter discovered by the filmmaker in the yellowing pages of a volume. The letter becomes a peg for the exploration of the power of language, and the amalgamation of different languages in the melting pot of Delhi, a city whose nooks and crannies are replete with myriad histories. 

Weaving in different spaces in the city, the people and their lives, After Word harks back to the history of the land, which seems to be erased in the everyday. However, it is throbbing and alive in the ordinary streets, which recaptures the small histories that bring a city to life. 

The film is being screened virtually as part of A Showcase of Student Films: Creative Documentary Course, New Delhi by the Dharamshala International Film Festival Virtual Viewing Room. The films have been made by students of the Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts and Communication in New Delhi.


Related topics

Dharamshala International Film Festival