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The Loom

Directed by Anjali Monteiro and KP Jayasankar
English, 49 mins, 2001

Saacha is about a poet, a painter and a city.
The poet is Narayan Surve, and the painter Sudhir Patwardhan. The city is the city of Mumbai (a.k.a. Bombay), the birth place of the Indian textile industry and the industrial working class. Both the protagonists have been a part of the left cultural movement in the city. Weaving together poetry and paintings with accounts of the artists and memories of the city, the film explores the modes and politics of representation, the relevance of art in the contemporary social milieu, the decline of the urban working class in an age of structural adjustment, the dilemmas of the left and the trade union movement and the changing face of a huge metropolis.

An abridged 30 Mins. version of the film is at the Tate Modern as a part of the exhibition Project Space: Word. Sound. Power.

and was also a part of the Social Fabric Exhibition

Watch the film here:

An unabdridged interview with Narayan Surve here:

Second Prize, New Delhi Video Forum, 2001

Festival Selection:
Kalaghoda Film Festival, Mumbai, 2001
People’s Film Fest, Bangalore, 2001
Film South Asia (FSA), Kathmandu, 2001
Travelling FSA 2001
Chingari, Wisconsin-Madison, 2001
Nottam, Kerala, 2001
Lahore Moving Images, 2002
Social Communication Cinema Festival, Calcutta, 2002
Mumbai International Film Festival, 2002
Festival of Visual Culture 2006, Joensuu, Finland

“The first thing one notices about Saacha is the sensory qualities of the image. In a musical montage of rhythms the relentless churning of machinery in the textile mills frames coils of cotton that unwind languorously onto a spindle and workers’ faces are masked by twisting strands of thread like enormous cats’ cradles. The film captures and releases fleeting moments of sensory intensity; light passes across piles of coloured jujubes glistening in a glass case in a cafe, drops of water light up momentarily on a table, reflecting passing traffic, deep red tomatoes and baskets of green chillies shine in the sunlit street market, baroque gargoyles keep silent watch as endless feet stream up a staircase behind elaborate brass balustrades out of the railway station. The life of the city is built up out of a multitude of small fragments, intimate moments, glimpses, and out of moments of sensory experience the film weaves a fabric that has the texture and the rhythm of the city. Saacha is experienced as much as a love affair with the city as a documentary about the city.”

Anne Rutherford, ‘Buddhas made of ice and butter’: mimetic visuality, transience and the documentary image, Third Text, Volume 20 Issue 1 2006, Routledge

About the Directors

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Anjali Monteiro  ( and K.P. Jayasankar ( are Professors at the  School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Monteiro has a Masters degree in Economics and a Ph.D. in Sociology. Jayasankar has an M.A. in German Studies and a Ph.D. in Humanities and Social Sciences. Both of them are involved in media production, teaching and research. A presiding thematic of much of their work has been a problematising of notions of self and the other, of normality and deviance, of the local and the global, through the exploration of diverse narratives and rituals. These range from the stories and paintings of indigenous peoples to the poetry of prison inmates.

Jointly they have won thirty national and international awards for their films. These include the Prix Futura Berlin 1995 Asia Prize for Identity- The Construction of Selfhood,  Best Innovation, Astra Film Festival 1998, Sibiu, Romania for YCP 1997, Best documentary award at the IV Three Continents International Festival of Documentaries 2005, Venezuela, for SheWrite ,Certificate of Merit, Mumbai International Film Festival 2008, Indian Documentary Producers Associuation (IDPA) Gold for Best Sound Design, Gold for Best Script and Silver for Editing for the film Our Family. Their most recent award is the Basil Wright Prize for So Heddan So Hoddan  (Like Here Like There) at the 13th RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film 2013.  Vibgyor Film Festival, Kerala,  Bangalore Film Society and Madurai International Film Festival  have organised retrospectives of their work in 2006, 2010 and 2012 respectively.

They have several papers in the area of media and cultural studies and have contributed to scholarly journals such as Cultural Studies. They are both recipients of the Howard Thomas Memorial Fellowship in Media Studies, and have been attached to Goldsmith’s College, London and the University of Western Sydney. They were both attached to the University of Lund, Sweden as Erasmus Mundus Scholars in 2013. Monteiro was a Fulbright visiting lecturer in  2006-07 at the University of California, Berkeley. In mid 2013, they will be at the University of Technology, Sydney as visiting professor/fellow, for a semester. They also serve as visiting faculty to several leading media and design institutions in India and abroad. They are both actively involved in ‘Vikalp‘, which is collective of documentary filmmakers campaigning for freedom of expression. They are also associated with various media and voluntary organisations.

Produced by

School of Media and Cultural Studies

Tata Institute of Social Sciences

Mumbai 400 088, India

Telephone: +91 22 25525667