In a poetic hour and a half, director Mani Kaul looks at the ancient art of making pottery from a wide variety of perspectives. Pots are shown in many settings, including a museum where a young child is mesmerized by the ceramics that ancient ancestors created from clay. The tradition continues and so does its magic, as potters are shown deftly working a lump of wet clay and fashioning it moment by moment into a slowly emerging shape. Kaul blends in myth and fables as well as the beauty of the art itself to create an inspiring look at a humble, everyday object. Episodic film about the ancient Indian tradition of terracotta sculpture and pottery and the several legends associated with this tradition. The artifacts involved include some of the oldest items of Indian civilization (from the Indus Valley, 2500BC) and have been, together with the legends associated with terracotta techniques, central to historical research into e.g. the origins of patriarchy, the shift from pastoral to agrarian systems, etc. "Mani Kaul was commissioned by the Festival of India 1985 to make a film about the art of clay pottery in India. His response was to wander in a tourist bus (with his film crew of twenty persons) up and down North India looking at the lives and longings of ancient communities of potters. Museum curators complained that Mani Kaul had not stopped in to film their exquisite pieces of one sort or another but Mani Kaul was not interested in a catalogue of fine things. He wanted rather to discover the myths and states of mind out of which pots were made and to render these states of mind through his own shaping of the medium of cinema. 'I wanted,' Mani Kaul says, 'to know the anguish of the potter through my own anguish as a filmmaker.'" Satti Khanna Like his earlier film, Satah Se Uthatha Aadmi [L'uomo che si erge dalla superficie], on the Hindi writer Muktibodh, Mati Manas is multilinear and defies conventional distinction between a documentary and fiction film, thus creating, what Mani calls, "a non-fictional reality". The film traces our entire cultural superstructure, myths, rituals etc. in the act of pottery making, one of man's earliest occupations. Mani's film starts with a museum exhibiting terracotta of the past and moves out to the vast central Indian plains which saw the rise of one of the most ancient civilisations of the world, and the extreme south with its ritualistic pottery, linking the pot a symbol of creation with the rhythm of life.
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