“Life in the mountains is very long. But also very hard”
Praveen Morchhale’s second film, “Walking with the Wind” (2017), won three national awards, for Best Picture (Ladakhi), Best Sound Design (Sanal George) and Best Re-Recording (Justin Jose) while screening and winning awards at festivals around the world. Last year, Morchhale revisited the Himalayan mountain villages he shot it in and the locals who starred there, inviting them to watch the film for the first time on the big screen.
Edited as both a road movie and a documentary, “Colours of Life” follows Praveen, its “tourist guide” and translator, and their 85-year-old taxi driver, constantly shouting as they visit the villages of its protagonists, trying to convince them to come and see the film, but also to find out about their life in the harsh mountain setting, their aspirations, their relationship to cinema, but also to philosophize about life in general. So the film unfolds on two levels, an ethnographic one, albeit in a much more intimate style than usual since the director actually knows his subjects from before, and a more personal one, revolving around Morchhale’s thoughts and feelings. .
Regarding the first aspect, Morchhale’s camera brings to light both the harsh natural environment and the small villages within it, through a mixture of realism and artistry, the latter notably coming from several shots of together. The first aspect, which is the one that basically gives the context of the film, mainly focuses on the question of why Morchhale decided to take this trip, why he wanted his actors to watch the film on the big screen. As the doc progresses, it seems his reasons are both personal, trying to find out if their collaboration had a positive impact in their lives, and if it inspired them to start watching movies, but also more altruistic, as he seems genuinely concerned about their life and health, especially after the pandemic, and the fact that they never had the chance to watch their own movie. The results of this quest vary, as a number of older people in particular have not had their lives changed in any way, but one of the younger ones wants to be an actress now, which has to be attributed to the role she starred in The Morchhale Movie.
One of the film’s most interesting segments is the appearance of Sachi, a Japanese woman who married and now lives in the area with her husband and two children, presenting a true story that seems almost surreal.
Shot in completely free form, without any kind of instructions or preparation for the people the director meets, and by a 3 person crew including Morchhale, the doc has a very authentic feel to it, also underscored by the honesty of the people recorded. At the same time, some errors were to occur, although they were not particularly obvious, nor did they hinder the meaning that the film left at the end, which, through Morchhale’s humor and frequent laughs and locals, is quite pleasant.
In the end, “Colours of Life” comes across as a rather personal documentary, and the truth is, it makes more sense to watch for viewers who have seen “Walking with the Wind” before. At the same time, Morchhale’s effort to show the film to people who have played it and never seen it ends up being almost heroic, and with the exploration of this remote region and its people, the result quite an interesting movie. to watch, also because it offers a lot of entertainment and does not prolong its reception in the hour it lasts.