AVA 2021 Commendation

Kashi Labh (2021)

DIRECTOR: Rajat Nayyar

ABSTRACT: Kashi Labh is a sensory audiovisual ethnography of the distinctive politics-of-care staged by families while they anticipate and create the possibility of Moksha for their dying relative in Kashi (Varanasi). This research examines audiovisual ethnography as it facilitates a performative space that allowed me and my interlocutor Shiv to navigate the holy city and improvise different possibilities for his mother’s Moksha during his ten-day stay in Kashi. (43 minutes)

BIO: Rajat is a SSHRC Vanier scholar and PhD candidate in Theatre at York University where he is researching voice, vocal traditions, activism across the life-course and end-of-life care. He previously earned his MA Anthropology (Audiovisual Ethnography) from Tallinn University and has been working on decolonizing research methodologies. Rajat’s recent chapter Staging Care: Dying, Death, and Possible Futures builds upon his MA thesis/film Kashi Labh (published in Journal of Anthropological Films) and examines how audiovisual ethnography might facilitate an activism that is grounded in care and staged as performances of the possible. As the co-founder of Emergent Futures CoLab (EFC), he is currently curating Talking Uncertainty, an online talk series and podcast that features researchers, artists and practitioners who are working on collaborative projects that speculate emergent futures in times of radical uncertainty. 

DISTRIBUTION: Kashi Labh was published in the recent issue of Journal of Anthropological Films (JAF) and is now available in open access for everyone. If possible, please do share this link with the conference attendees and on AGENET website: https://boap.uib.no/index.php/jaf/article/view/3272

AVA 2021 Judges: ‘Kashi Labh’ explores intimacy in a different way from the other selected films. Through the immersive cinematographic techniques of the film’s filmmaker, Rajat Nayya, the viewer is invited to an intimate portrayal of the practice and performance of preparing for death through Moksha. It is a fascinating portrayal of faith, dying, and funerary rites. Such practices invite the viewer to contemplate the possibilities of care at the end of life and beyond.

Matthew Lariviere, on behalf of the Board of Judges (Film Category)