Varsha Panikar is a writer, filmmaker, multi-disciplinary artist from Mumbai, India. As a trans non-binary artist unpicking prejudices and politics from their own lived experience, they create with the aim of initiating conversations around south-Asian narratives that are under-represented and marginalised. After So Long // बरसों बाद is their most recent project, shot like a home-movie with a poetical twist, this film highlights one family's voice struggling with dual-identity between two very different cultures.
Written in part-Hindi and part-English, “After So Long // बरसों बाद” serves as an homage to Simha and their parents roots. Simha was born in India and raised in US, and this piece shows the spiritual disconnect that is felt when away from their ancestral culture.
The family, Simha and their parents Rama and Anaaji, collaborated to create an ode to their Indian ancestry, often missed, from their home in US. That collaboration was this poem, After So Long. Simha originally wrote the poem with a friend, Jae. Then, Simha's mother edited the poem. And finally both Simha and their mother and father lent their voice to the words.
Ultimately, this is Simha's walkabout through time and memories, to enlighten both their and their parents' ancestral reawakening.
Varsha Panikar (They/Them) - (Director, Star Hopper Studios)
'When I first read “After So Long // बरसों बाद”, it felt like a walkabout through an artist’s journey of perseverance and self-discovery. It was nostalgic, spiritual, and raw. I was instantly drawn to the idea of creating a memory book, a photo album vignette, inspired by digitally produced home-movies to capture time and memories. I wanted to capture the dynamic between the old and new, the internal and the external; the darkness and the light; the complex relationships and convergence between generations, spaces and places of cultural memory in the contemporary digital age.
I wanted to take the viewers on a tender journey through the artist’s point-of-view in hopes of creating a primordial language that can only be understood through contemplation and pausing to stop and observe. This walkabout is a moment of transformation, truth, nostalgia, and introspection, with poetry as its backdrop. A canvas made up of memories - all coexisting in a symphony of sorts.'
Simha 'After so long, I have finally had the chance to see myself in the perseverance of growth and the resounding relief of release. I hope that this video not only serves as a reminder of patience, but of self-acceptance. For me, I never thought to be so blessed to have had the chance to get acquainted with myself in so many ways, and I am forever grateful to have that experience over and over again.'
Jae 'I’ve never written a poem with someone else, but I remember the morning I wrote this poem with Simha. It was an organic process and didn’t really feel like we had to try hard to write with each other. Writing about self-growth was something that felt instinctual. When I first saw the video for the poem, I never thought that something so beautiful could come from just two friends sitting with each other and being vulnerable. Here’s to vulnerability!'
Tanmay Chowdhary (He/Him)(Cinematographer, Colourist) 'In interpreting ‘After So Long // बरसों बाद’, we wanted to break the linearity of time with the use of multiple cameras, frame rates and movement. To capture the nostalgia, we used lenses from the Soviet era, lending the entire piece a color tone and texture which is reminiscent of analog photo albums. The gaze is often personal with handheld POV images connecting these visions from the past.'
Asawari Jagushte (They/Them) - (Editor, Star Hopper Studios) 'When I first read the lyrics, I felt like I was reliving someone else’s life. When Simha sent us the track they produced, they made the words and the whole experience of a poem extremely sensorial. After So Long // बरसों बाद is a poem about a family, an Indian American family. It’s a reconstruction of memories, lived experiences & nostalgia that brings together a generation. As a team we wanted to recreate that very feeling. Because the treatment of the film is like an ode to the home movie culture in the 90s, we worked with a micro crew, which eventually became a family of sorts. We wanted to find a sense of belonging & parts of our childhood in each visual and to the story that is being narrated. I think we achieved that quite beautifully as a team.'
Simha’s upcoming EP of namesake “After So Long // बरसों बाद” was written by Simha and Jae during the pandemic of 2020, and delves into themes of identity, belonging and mental-health.
Poem by @_simha_ & @jae_2000
Directed by @fromtheafterglow
Cinematography and grading by @tanmay.chowdhary
Film Editing by @asawarijagushte
Produced by @starhopperstudios
Music Production by @_simha_
Hindi editing by @ramatabla
Recited by @_simha_ @ramatabla @agarimella
Featured cast @vaiconic
English Translation by @shutupitdoesntmatter