Are popular culture, mass culture, folk culture the same? Both the self-reflexive films, quasi-autobiographical in nature, confront us with difficult questions of authorship, creativity and ownership. You Don't Belong searches for a popular song and meets a wide range of authorship—and questions the relation between creation and ownership. Nusrat also asks a similar question of ownership, of a well-known musician who transitioned over the course of his career from a popular artist to a commercial one.
Nusrat Has Left the Building...But When?
Director: Farjad Nabi
No Dialogue; 20 min; 1997; Pakistan
An experimental film made about the metamorphic career of the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the famous Sufi Qawwali singer from Pakistan. The film departs from the popular version of Nusrat and goes back to his early roots in Sufi music, before and after he exploded on the international scene. Nusrat's metamorphosis from a genuine popular artiste to mass produced exotica of the East left behind many disillusioned listeners and devotees in its wake. Perhaps for the first time, this film gives voice to the other side of the song.
You Don't Belong
Director: Spandan Banerjee
English (subtitled); 75 min; 2011; India
Disparate characters who are bound together by a filmmaker's search for the elusive author of a song, popular in collective memory as a traditional folk song. Paban Das is a Baul singer living in France singing songs of wandering minstrels. Arun Chakraborty is a poet living a quietly content life in a hamlet of West Bengal. Bhoomi is a band from Kolkata, popular for their renditions of folk tunes. Prabudha is a musician with a history of protest music. Paraspather is an erstwhile band left with memories of their popular songs and lost fame. A long self-reflexive journey into the world of folk nudges established ideas of home, nostalgia, belonging and authorship.