The documentary ‘Other Kohinoors – The Rocks of Hyderabad’ by Fenugreek Productions produced and directed by Uma Magal and co-produced by Mahnoor Yar Khan – features poetry, people, places, emotions, traditions, songs, art, architecture, food and rituals – every facet of the city that has paid an ode to the spectacular rockscapes of Hyderabad – the millions of years old heritage of the Deccan.
The famous Hyderabadi shayar of yore Maqdoom writes in his poem – ‘Shaayar’
Fitrat ke pareshaan nagmon se, ek apna geet banaata hoon ; Firdaus e khayali mein baitha, ek buth ko taraasha karta hoon ; Phir apne dil ki dhadkan ko pathar ke dil mein bharta hoon.
The film Other Kohinoors – The Rocks of Hyderabad was premiered at Prasadz Multiplex to an audience that came to hoards from across the Greater city to express their solidarity for the ongoing fight to #SavetheRocks, and these are the Hyderabadis whose hearts indeed are set on saving whatever is left of the vanishing rocks of the city.
It was one of the Sundays after the much-celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi (Vinayaka Chavithi) and the roads towards Necklace Road and Prasadz Multiplex were threatening to fill up with devotees – it’s a tradition many follow to bring their Ganesh idols all the way to immerse them in Hussain Sagar, and also visit the tallest Ganesh at Khairtabad.
Alongside, yet another motley crowd was gathering at Screen No 5 in Prasadz. There were getting together to watch ‘Other Kohinoors…’ It was a houseful show; as chairs filled up, some stood, many sat along the aisle, squatted in the front of the screen and watched as the saga of the rocks, and the tragedy of destruction unfolded in front of their eyes. It is our story, which we watched as it happened along the years. But to watch it all in a flash back as one story was heartbreaking, and it brought a tear or two in many an eye.
‘Other Kohinoors…’ has been Uma Magal’s passion project that goes back to over a decade now. “This came out of grief, and nothing else. We as children grew up around these rocks. We used to go on rock walks, and in front of our eyes we saw everything get destroyed. Today as you drive down the airport road and look around at whatever remains of the rocks, you feel sad. There was a time when I would showcase these rocks proudly to my family and friends. They were spectacular. And when I would travel abroad and come back – the moment I saw the rocks I knew I was home,” shares Uma Magal, director, producer.
While geologically and environmentally it is detrimental to be destroying these rockscapes indiscriminately, Uma Magal wondered if these rocks that are such intrinsic part of the geography, found any resonance in the cultural fabric of the region and the city. And, to her delight, she did find not few, but many references. The rockscapes are not just a part of the culture, tradition and spirit of the people, they made into the art of the land as well.
Uma shares, “It was the senior collector and art historian Jagadish Mittal sir, who understood what I was looking for. I wondered how come the cultural imagination did not include these rocks, He showed me beautiful Deccan miniature paintings and Bidriware that represented the rocks, And, the Kalamkari too. Our ancestral artists have done it. The tree of life in Kalamkari paintings done from the region raises out of these rocks. Song writers, baladeers have all written about the rocks.”
Some mainstream film makers consciously and unconsciously filmed these beautiful structures capturing them with their lens for posterity. Interestingly, and obviously, the art of the region, be it the Deccan miniature art or the Kalamkari of the region, or even the spiritual iconography that you see popping up from rocks and small hillocks that are perhaps preserved for the local deities presiding over them – rocks have been definitely a part of life.
Take for example, the legend of Renuka, Yellamma; Uma came across the story, when Sumanaspati Reddy, who worked with All India Radio Adilabad and works closely with folk artistes, organised a folk performance. The troupe sang and performed to the story of Renukamma and Yellamma, the revered local deities. “I thought my children should see this, and so I went to Lamakaan. I feel, it was meant to be. I watched them give such heartrending performance, singing beautifully to the popular story which has its spirit in the rocks of the region. And, people worship the same rocks symbolic of the deities.”
The story of Renukamma, Yellamma; the Kalamkari art represented in the kalam of famous Kalamkari artist Kailasam; the colourfully painted rocks and rocks that make for the walls of buildings; paintings; and the rocks on the road side that survive to tell the story of the devastation and their relationship with every facet of lives in Hyderabad are captured well in the documentary – ‘Other Kohinoors’. The film is a collection of videos taken over the years with whatever was possible at the time; the focus was to capture as much as possible. I have so much more data with me after the film, shares Uma.
Uma associated with Mahnoor, who shared with her the passion for Hyderabad; ‘a fellow Hyderabadi who worked with her through the joys and sorrows.’ Together they raised funds and completed the film.
Through the 10 years of making of the film, there have been various demotivating incidents that happened. The tragedy of Bio-Diversity Park – where flora and fauna and rocks are replaced with concrete structures was the lowest that Uma experienced.
“I almost gave up working on the film. I said to myself – how would it help any way. But then we motivated ourselves, and said this film is important and it has to be made.”
The film Other Kohinoors also refers to science, nature and environment that will be permanently altered with destruction of rocks. But it is more about this emotional bond with the rocks that every Hyderabadi worth his grain of biryani will relate to. The team also put together a rap song that might as well become an anthem for the city. Its infectious and celebrates the spirit of the city in every word, and is an apt background score for the film.
Habshiguda, Bandlaguda, Nanakramguda
Hau Miya, Telugu lo cheppu
Na gundella daachukunna ee perulu…
bharamaina, rasamayamaina Ra Sa mayamaina ee perulu
Arre Dakhni me-ich bol Anna, Dakhanich bol
Tujhe chadi kya, tu apnaich bol
Tera sher dakhani, tu dakhaniich bol
Tera sher Dakhani tu dakhanich bol
Saara dakhanich samaaya hain in mein, dakhani dekho namaan mein
kya namaan hain, kaise namaan hain
Rasbhare, dum bhare, jaan, hansi, kahaani bhare
Ba ba ba Bo-orabanda
Pa pa pa pa pathargatti
Adda-adda adda adda -addagutta, Venkateshwaragutta, Nalla-nalla-nallanallagutta, Jagathgiri Jagathgiri gutta
Biryani Shah Tekdi, Musa Tekdi, Gauliguda, Naamaala Gundu, Ramnagar Gundu, Kachiguda Kohe Imaam Raza, Kohe Qayaam, Puppul guda, Ammuguda, Beeramguda Khajaguda Khajaguda khajaguda ……
Na Gundella Daachukunna….
Ra sa mayamaina ee perulu
Uma and Mahnoor plan to show Other Kohinoors in schools, colleges, institutions…and take it to as many people as possible. There will also be another public screening at Prasadz on September 18, at 10 am on Screen 5 for all the Hyderabadis, who missed watching it the first time around.