The nomadic tribe of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan commonly known as Kalbeliya or Jogiya or Snake charmers have mesmerized the world for many years with their culture. For many years the tribe has been a point of interest for connoisseurs of art & culture and ethnic studies.
Before they left India, little is known about the culture, which generated the Gypsies, except for their migrations, within and out of India. Linguistics and historians believe that the Gypsies were originally from North Central India. Their first known migration started around 300 BC, when they moved to North Western India. Even though the lineage of the Roma people of South Eastern Europe can be traced to the Kalbeliya of India, the tribe in its own country unfortunately is still looked down upon.
Though many attempts have been made to preserve and promote their art form however none so far has really been in the direction of providing sustainable development to the people of the tribe and removing their untouchable status. To add to their misery A Wildlife Protection Act introduced in 1972 has prohibited catching snakes, a common source of income undertaken by Kalbeliya men in the early days. This has left many amongst the tribe to opt for begging or breaking stones for construction purpose as a ways to earn a piece of bread. The problems quantify especially during the non-tourist season in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.
This is an ethnographic film based on the livelihood, cultural heritage and struggles of the nomadic Jogi Tribe of Rajasthan. A poetic journey of the rendezvous with the tribe commonly known as the Saperas (Snake Charmers) or Kalbeliyas, in a quest to discover their cultural existence & lifestyle. The film encompasses the vast and beautiful Indian desert into the various ethnic harmonies. This documentary attempts to showcase the problematic isolated lifestyle of this tribe struggling for their existence & social recognition…
About the Film Maker
Saumya Sharma is an independent ethnographic filmmaker & anthropologist. Her other works include ‘Mrigtrishna’ on the complex of Nature, Art, Religion & Commercialization; ‘Zardozi – The Golden Thread’ on Zardozi embroidery and ‘Phor Thud – The Platoon’ on an Indian Army Platoon. She is currently editing her ethnographic film titled ‘YaYa’ on the Gond Tribes of Bastar.
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