Mera Karachi Mobile Cinema

  • Yaminay Nasir Chaudhri (Author)

Identifiers (Article)

Abstract

"The Kolachi Brothers" is a video strewn together from hours of cell phone footage, film skits, private jokes, and commentaries shot by the Sindhi Kulis of Cantt Railway Station, Karachi. The videos were made as part of a project by the Tentative Collective called the Mera Karachi Mobile Cinema, which ran from  2012-2015 collaborating with residents across ethnically and economically diverse residential colonies and urban intersections of Karachi to create a poetic archive of everyday life in the city. The collaborative mobile cinema worked with participants to produce self-generated media using locally available, vernacular technology and set up free screenings of low-res cell phone videos in the sites where they were produced. 

The coolies who made "The Kolachi Brothers" all hail from the Kalochi family. They are porters and daily wage earners who live on the Cantt Railway Station platforms until they have enough money to return to their families in Ghotki, Interior Sindh, 300 miles north-west of Karachi. The Tentative Collective worked with this group for about three to four months and held three screenings of different cuts between October and December 2013. The screenings were projected using a rickshaw powered projector on various surfaces like the dented bodies of trains and the stony walls of colonial architecture. 

The coolies of Cantt Railway Station sing songs of unrequited love, longing, and despair, but simultaneously project a strong sense of humor in their situation, as well as an acute awareness of the power dynamics of seeing and showing–this complicates the hierarchy of voyeurs in interesting ways.

While Mera Karachi Mobile Cinema seldom screens site specific video outside the neighbourhoods where they were made, the Kolachi Brothers' insistence on being visible outside their environs, and their expert manipulation of the screen and its voyeurs has allowed their work to travel and be a part of this platform.  

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Published
2019-02-17
Keywords
Karachi; Kolachi; Cantt Railway Station; Coolies; Public Screening; Tentative Collective