In my own experience, the best things that life has to offer rarely come to us gift-wrapped. They appear as minor aberrations at the near edges of our worldview. Things that, at first, mildly tickle our interest, and usually just enough to earn a glance but rarely anything more. Over time, as it unravels and evolves, it slowly engulfs everything you take for granted, re-enriching portions of life forgotten until they become sparks at every nerve-ending, sparks that slowly but surely become fire.
Many months ago, an impulsive trip to Pune led me to the company of a certain Jonty Paul, whose maddening passion for everything and everything reminded me of fires once forgotten. A borrowed camera and some time may not have resulted in the near-film we hoped to make but sparked the beginning of a much larger friendship.
Jonty, on his part, narrates a similar story of spontaneous encounter and chance happenings that led him to Aastha Gupta, who had been working on a film about the Urdu language for almost a year. Fate had a plan, one could say.
The Urdu language, was born out of necessity, to bridge two apparently disparate cultures and give them the opportunity to share their understanding of the world. It would seem that, even here, the Urdu language did just that. It brought all three of us, from these seemingly different worlds, together and allowed us to fall deeply in love, not just with itself, but maybe even with each other. I see great promise here.
The first few days of our encounter were about sharing – knowledge, ideas, experiences. We struggled in our gentle quest to understand what and who we were working with. There was so much to go by, there was so much to know.
The Urdu language hosts a rich legacy, one deeply intertwined with the culture and history of the Indian subcontinent. Over three days, we managed to establish a near definitive timeline of the birth and evolution of the language known as Urdu or Hindi or Hindustani. What surprised me most was this constant realisation that all three languages were one and the same and maybe by extension, so were all of us.
The days that followed were an incredible blur of making and breaking and remaking, in the process of which was born this very website and the roots of many ideas that we are very excited for you all to see in our film.
As I stand here, a week older in my Urdu Project life, I am amazed at how much there is to be unearthed, how many ideas and perceptions still require breaking and much of ourselves still require some making. I invite you to share in this joy, of careless exploration, as we delve further into this world not-so-unknown and fall freely into fate’s playful arms.