28-year-old filmmaker Radhamohini Prasad was born in Kalimpong, West Bengal and it is where her short film Machis Ko Sinka (Matchstick) is set. To be precise, it is set in a Kalimpong billiards hall and set at the eye-level of a little boy who works there. The boy keeps his eye on the moneyball and the wandering cue while all around him swirls conversation about the Gorkhaland movement. The result is a witty, memorable short.
We asked her how she conceived the film. Radha says, “The project began with a search for the Indian-Nepali identity and to represent it for mainland Indians who are complacently ignorant about the region, its politics and economics. It evolved in trying to understand the Gorkhaland Movement in Darjeeling.” Machis ko Sinka was made as part of Radha’s student diploma project in 2008, while she was at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore. Radha says, “Kalimpong is a town in the Himalayas which in the past century has been the scene of many migrations, from Tibet in the north, from Nepal in the west, from Bhutan in the east and from India and Bangladesh in the south. I’m a product of two such migrations: my great grandparents themselves came from Uttar Pradesh and from Okhaldhunga and Ilam in Eastern Nepal. The town itself could be described as a great crossroads where trade with Tibet and Nepal flourished and it also functioned as the starting point of many expeditions to Central Asia.”
Radha continues to make films in and around the region. She says, “I’m currently working on a film that tells the story of fifty-year old Land Rover cars operating on a route that trails the remote frontiers of India and Nepal. Another project in the pipeline is based on the water crisis in the hills. It’s a recurring theme in a lot of projects that I’ve worked on.”