Monday, June 25, 2007

PADMA BILAWAL -- "debut preview" screening

Happy to post this announcement of an event planned for tomorrow evening.


"PADMA BILAWAL -- a dhrupad master class" (85 minutes), a digital cinema innovation by David Raphael Israel, will receive its world debut "preview (work-still-in-progress) screening" at Bangalore's Suchitra Film Society on the evening of Monday, 25 June 2007 (6:45 PM). All are welcome.

Shot at Dhrupad Sansthan -- a music institute established by the Gundecha Brothers in the countryside near Bhopal -- this film focuses on a single session of Indian classical-music improvisation: an extended musical colloquy between Amita Sinha (an advanced student of dhrupad-style vocal music) and her teacher, Ramakant Gundecha. The vocalists exchange notes and phrases of a mellifluous morning raga, Alhaiya Bilawal. The filmmaker gradually adds many complex layers of visual commentary, in the form of exterior footage derived from another Bhopal location: the lotus-rife lake adjacent Professors' Colony (where the Gundeacha family make their home). There exists no such raga as "Padma Bilawal" -- unless one may allow that this film, through an audio-visual synthesis, manages to achieve this new thing.

In recent years, David Raphael Israel has investigated innovative video-editing techniques (through his 60-second "digital haiku" pieces as well as larger presentations of dance and theatre on camera) -- methods here deployed so as to create a visual language imaginatively corresponding with the highly nuanced musical language under study in this session of alap-jodh-jhala.

Born in California in 1956, Mr. Israel recently settled in Bhopal, where he studies music with the Gundecha Brothers. He soon began a video documentation project focusing on their teaching methods -- work that finds Padma Bilawal as a first public fruit.

In addition to work in experimental cinema, he is also noted as a poet and painter -- arts that (with music) he views as mutually illuminating. He studied classical Chinese poetry at UC Berkeley, and worked as a writer and editor for the late EAR Magazine (New York City). His paintings have been seen in Washington, DC and Santa Barbara, California.


Bhopal-e said...

Hi there,

Require some postings at my blog about Bharat Bhawan. Do let me know if you would be interested in writing a piece for me as guest blogger, or can give me any contacts for the same. My email is talk2bhopale at, could not find your email hence posting as a comment!


David Raphael Israel said...

ps -- further to report, the Bangalore screening proved a happy experience for me, with a very attentive and responsive audience (largely comprised of music-lovers &/or filmmakers). The audio work (2 hours Monday, 2 hours Tuesday, sitting with a skilled sound engineer mastering the soundtrack) seemed to bring a discernible improvement. Was delighted by many of the remarks and questions, in after-screening discussion. And I've rec'd an invite to show the film again in Bangalore -- when I'm back, inshallah, this autumn.

I plan similarly to show this to folks (friends / colleagues) in Bhopal, Delhi, and Bombay over the next few days ... before (on 5 July) I depart India for China.