Rajula’s work falls in the interstice of Cinema, Poetry and Visual Arts. She grew up listening to stories and working with tribal and folk artisans from all over the subcontinent and considers it her first school. This is where she absorbed the storytelling practices and learned while working through various craft processes using range of materials.
The second school was the Fine Arts Faculty of Baroda, where Vincent Van Gogh’s work & letters to Theo were discovered. While pursuing Masters in English Literature, many paths began to converge towards Cinema.
She studied film making at the Film & Television Institute of India from 1997-2000, specialized in Film Direction and continues to learn through her work. A sustained dialogue with the indigenous knowledge systems and the changing practices thereof form the core of her study and her practice emerges from a close collaboration with people, their histories and environments.
She works extensively in film and video exploring the boundaries of fiction/non-fiction, through graphic art, mixed media, photo collage, film installation & trans media work. Also develops scripts in collaboration with artists/ practitioners on the margins, in the interstice of practice, learning and performance.
Her short fictions include
Do Hafte Guzarte Do Hafte Nahin Lagte 35mm/ COL/ 22 min/ 2000
Aisa Nahin Hua Tha Tahira/ Jumbled Cans 35mm/ COL/ 23 min/ 2013
Other films are
BEYOND THE WHEEL 2005
SABAD NIRANTAR/ WORD WITHIN THE WORD 2008
KATHA LOKNATH/ reTOLD BY LOKNATH 2012
AT HOME WALKING 2019
She writes fiction and poetry in Hindi and her poetry collection is published from Bhartiya Gyanpeeth as Parchhain ki Khidki Se (Through the window of shadow) It was awarded the New Writing Prize of Gyanpeeth in 2004.
She has translated a couple of books viz. We are poor but so many by renowned social thinker, founder of SEWA Ela. R. Bhatt and the selected poetry of Forough Farrokhzad for the little mag focussed on world poetry, TANAAV.
Mujh par bharosa rakhna a selection of artist Vincent Van Gogh’s letters into Hindi is Seasongray’s first publication.
She has been a writer-in-residence in Hamburg, Germany under the Akshar project of Goethe Institute, participated in the World book fair, Frankfurt 2006 etc. Has been on juries for National awards. With a special interest in developing film pedagogy, she designs & teaches new courses in filmmaking & allied expanding Cinema practices.
AT HOME WALKING is her experimental feature film around Poetry, Philosophy & Everyday with strong reference to poets like Tukaram, Janabai, Gyaneshwar, Nagraj Manjule, Arun Kolatkar et al.
SABAD NIRANTAR, 2008
It is a search for the Word within the word; a poised reflection on the formless essence of reality expressed through the living resonance, continuing and constant exchanges among diverse worldviews, epochs and emotions of the indigenous spirit and its undying echoes enlivening the emergent and modern soul. It seeks to comprehend and expand upon the Bhakti movement, an important chapter in the social, political and literary history as far back as 12th century, in India, that of medieval mystic poets like Kabir, Gorakhnath, devout singers Meera, Sehjobai and others blooming from within the wretched of the earth and coming to form cogent dialogues across socio-philosophic fractures in an ancient landscape ravaged by history. Embarking upon a journey into the flux, the film finds within the zeitgeist, ancestral voices question and dismantle fatal stereotypes, those blind yardsticks of lopsided reason with which knowledge attempts to measure the past and present.
DV PAL 74 mins/ 2008/ Subtitled in English
HORIZONTE PREIS, DOKFEST MUNICH, GERMANY
“Word Within the Word is a crucial gateway to the India we are fast forgetting, one that is difficult to classify and categorise but simpler to understand if you hear its people speak…“more
-Filmmaker Deepa Dhanraj’s curatorial note for Doxa, Vancouver
“If you have looked around you in India, and confronted the deep—and structured—distress that constitutes everyday life for the vast majority of its people, and then wondered what it is that keeps human beings going, then Sabad Nirantar is a film that you may want to watch… more
-Filmmaker Sanjay Kak in Open magazine.
Word Within the Word doesn’t romanticise Kabir’s followers. There is a tendency in liberal circles to view Kabir as a bridge between Hindi and Muslim folk traditions but Shah doesn’t treat her subjects as embodiments of India’s secular traditions. “Kabir’s poetry exists across time and space, and that is what I was interested in,” said 35-year-old Shah, who studied direction at the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune.more
‘Clouds burst in the west, Raindrops fall to a rhythm, O wise one go tend your fields…’ An opening of a remarkable film….” more
–Filmmaker Surabhi Sharma in Tehelka.
“Rajula Shah’s UNSCRIPTED VERITÉ STYLE DOESN’T CLOSE DOORS ON FICTION…”
STORY in Tehelka
KATHA LOKNATH/ reTOLD BY LOKNATH, 2012
An ordinary everyday in the city, amidst human and electronic chatter, the child dreams of a birth; in flashes of lightning, a specter unfolds;the mother’s voice beckons the not-yet-born to the world. Amidst rolling thunder, hearing the mother’s voice, it wakes up to many tellings of the same tale.
“On the banks of the Mahanadi, in village Sonpur lives a potter named Loknath…” He knows many stories…” He begins from before the world was made…and goes on till ever after.
Amidst whispers old stories are rejected and new ones woven. The child raises a question- what next mother? An eternity passes. The story gathers moss. The child asks for another story.
The word “cine-poem” is used rather too freely, but it perfectly suits Rajula Shah’s beautiful new documentary, Retold By Loknath…more
Nandini Ramnath talks to the filmmaker in Livemint.com
Shackled by neither script nor an externally imposed narrative, Shah has clearly had the luxury of time to follow her inquiring mind. Remarkably, she and Arghya Basu as editors, have carved from this accumulated footage, a film that compels our concentrated attention through its entire 45-minute duration. Katha Loknath is unquestionably a film of great poetic beauty…more
Shanta Gokhale on the film in Mumbai/ Pune Mirror
AT HOME WALKING/ CHALO SAKHA US DES MEIN, 2019