“I suppose that is the whole process of living… There’s the wear and tear on so many levels, on your body and your psyche. And of course it leaves its indelible mark or its stamp on you.” - Lalita Bharvani
The Film Indelible Lalita tells a woman’s life story through her changing body. Born in India in 1948, Lalita Bharvani has lived in Bombay, Paris, and now Montréal; her body and identity have been remarkably transformed during this globalized life. Lalita’s dark complexion gradually lost its pigment due to a skin condition, so that she appears completely Caucasian. When she was 30, ovarian cancer left her unable to bear children. She is now fighting breast cancer and heart disease, as her mother lives out her last days in India. These health crises have robbed Lalita of a piece of her racial identity, her womanhood, and her youth. Yet somehow she joyfully adapts and re-defines herself at each stage.
What It’s Really About I am using Lalita’s unique story to explore the idea of the body as an archive, onto which one’s experiences are recorded over the course of a life. Is the body somehow imprinted, like a passport getting stamped, by the places one lives? Does one’s identity derive from one’s physical appearance – or vice versa? Can the body be read as a record of all that has transpired in the soul within?
While Lalita’s body has archived the pain of her life experiences, the film’s tone rises above victimhood because of Lalita’s resilience. A vibrant spark radiates from Lalita’s eyes even as her racial markers, her sexual organs, and her own heartbeat change. Shrugging off her problems, she remains centered by her Hindu faith and her strong relationships. Her joyful flexibility confirms the resilience of the female spirit in the face of inevitable bodily change.
The Style The film visually portrays Lalita's body as a record of her life experiences and changing cultural identity. Extreme close-ups show parts of her body as she cooks, gets a massage, does yoga, and caresses her aging mother. “Life’s stamp” is revealed through bodily marks, medical documents, passport stamps, art prints, and patterns in nature. We see life's encounters make their mark on Lalita – and by extension, on every living thing.
Current Status I began filming Lalita in October 2007, and have shot all of my material across three continents. I now have a late rough cut and am ready for the final push. With your support, I can complete the film by this summer.
We Need Your Help! Indelible Lalita is an intimate, philosophical, artistic film – but unfortunately not one with a current events “hook” that attracts mainstream foundation funding. While my other films have received support from television and film sources, this one has been made largely with donated time and equipment.
I am launching this Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the final sound editing and mix. I would like to bring the film’s delicate soundtrack up to the level of the visuals. If we can surpass our goal and raise $10,000, it will cover most of the final online edit as well. Your donations can help this film reach its full potential!
ALL CONTRIBUTIONS WILL BE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE. The non-profit Center for Independent Documentary will be accepting donations on my behalf. Please email me if you are considering a contribution larger than $2,000 - the project can definitely use help beyond the sound mix.
- (44 days)