Jackman Hall (AGO)
Nimtoh (Invitation) by Saurav Rai
INDIA, 2019, DIGITAL, 85 MIN, NEPALI
Presented by Images Festival
Co-presented by SAVAC, MUBI, AGO, Sanghum Film Series and the Toronto Nepali Film Festival
Set in a remote mountain village that lies between Darjeeling and Kalimpong, we follow 10-year-old Tashi and his grandmother, who guard their landlord’s cardamom orchard at night. Tashi is tasked with delivering invitations to the wedding of his landlord’s son (played by Saurav Rai). As the date of the ceremony approaches, Tashi wonders if he will receive an invitation to the wedding as well.
Featuring an amateur cast of Rai’s family members and residents of his home village, the film’s realism summons a patient eye to observe how ordinary conversations and social transactions between Tashi and his neighbours transpire as subdued moments of kinship and mischief.
Nimtoh (Invitation) is Mumbai-based filmmaker Saurav Rai’s first feature film and is based on events that Rai observed during a marriage function in his home village.
I have always considered the power of compassion to be the greatest virtue in life. And through cinema I have always tried to bring forward those feelings or events, which has had profound impact on my conscience. The film is the result of a real life incident.
During a marriage function in my village, I happen to observe a small boy from the locality. The kid always looked forward to coming to my house and had an acute observation of timing as to when the family would eat, since his family struggled hard to make their ends meal. He would run for errands for the family and shared good bonding with my mother. During the wedding I found him loitering around. The next day one of the songs played out at the wedding began to be heard at his house. People were quick to brand him a thief. I was taken aback by the fact that how easily we pass judgment without any proof, just because he came from a humble background. What if he had honestly got the song through other sources? What if the card with the song was simply misplaced? I also sensed a tension in the family related to the marriage preparation among its members; the child was an easy prey for some people to vent out their frustration. It suddenly dawned upon me the class struggle between the ‘Haves’ and the “Have- Nots”. He could have been approached with care and made to understand if found guilty.
I just came to know that the child has left home for the monastery to be a monk. My mother revealed their last conversation to me. The kid came to say his goodbye to my mother; he wished to be a good monk so that he could build a bigger home for his family.
Saurav Rai is a direction and screenplaywriting alumnus from the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, India. Rai believes in simplicity and takes keen interest in the folk tales and mythology of his village. Nimtoh (Invitation) is his debut feature film.