What is it about?

This article is about Los Angeles-based filmmaker Tuni Chatterji’s 2012 experimental documentary film Okul Nodi (Endless River). The film is made up of luminous shots of boatmen travelling through Bangladeshi rivers, recordings of Bangladeshi boatmen’s songs known as bhatiyali on its soundtrack, and brief interview scenes with anthropologists and archivists of this musical form and musicians who perform or study the genre. My article shows how the film fuses experimental filmic approaches with documentary, ethnographic and archival modes, including that of ‘ecocinema’. It also traces how the film brings to light a history of twentieth-century engagement with this musical genre on the part of collectors of folk and Indigenous music, as well as radical subcontinental modern artists, thinkers and activists.

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Why is it important?

This article discusses an important example of contemporary diasporic experimental filmmaking in the US. It engages with the contemporary experimental film categories of experimental documentary, ecocinema, and experimental ethnography in order to interpret the film. It also shows how the film brings to light an understudied history of radical subcontinental modern art and political activism.

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This page is a summary of: Between presence and absence in Tuni Chatterji’s Okul Nodi, Moving Image Review & Art Journal (MIRAJ), April 2022, Intellect, DOI: 10.1386/miraj_00083_1.
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