Choreographer & Director
Pragati Agarwal, Nikita Maheshwary
Director of Photography
Sangeeta Banerjee & Ashish Banerjee
Sound Designer and Video Editor
About the Film
In India during the last five decades, more than 50 million people have been uprooted from their homes due to development-induced displacement. The displaced persons are mostly asset-less rural poor like landless laborers, small farmers, tribals, Dalits, and Adivasis. For the sake of national interest and development, these millions bear witness to the destruction of their own lives and livelihoods with bleak hopes of rehabilitation or settlement. This short film captures the unsettling experience of displacement and homelessness transformed into a state of suspension.
Home, Suspended is part of SitaaurGita Films – an ongoing movement-based video series on the sociopolitical factors of India. The series attempts to illustrate the social, political & cultural fabric and investigate how deeply they are intertwined. The issues addressed, though pan-Indian in their discourse, have been showcased in an urban middle-class perspective. Started in 2015, the series has four films to date. Each film is shot with four constants – two female performers, in public space, address a socio-political issue, in under 120 seconds.
Nikita Maheshwary, Choreographer and Director
Originally from New Delhi, Nikita Maheshwary is a performance practitioner based in The Netherlands with experience in choreography, research, art education, dramaturgy, and curation. Her art inquiries lie at the nexus of gender, culture, and identity. Through her performances, exhibits, curation work, and writings, she is deeply invested in telling stories of plurality, female agency, forms of marginalization, and class divide.
Since 2019, as a research fellow at the DAS Graduate School, Amsterdam (2019-2022), Nikita is invested in her long-term artistic research project Naachne-wali: The Dancing Girl. Currently, she works as a performance maker, coaches artistic research, and teaches dramaturgy at the Fontys University of the Arts, Tilburg, and guest lectures at various arts programs and institutions in Europe and India.
The short film, though made in 2017, is more reflective and pertinent in our current times. In March 2020, when the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi locked down the entire nation within a mere notice of 4 hours, millions of daily wage migrant workers were stranded in cities without any immediate income, food, and basic amenities. This coronavirus-induced lockdown led to one of the biggest exoduses in history, as approximately 10 million migrant workers along with their families, walked thousands of kilometers from the cities, with their possessions and young ones slung over their shoulders. Thousands died trying to make their way back home.
With the movement vocabulary of Home, Suspended – the sheer act of walking – I tried to encapsulate the constant and recurring displacement which the asset-less poor go through in India as they leave their villages due to lack of jobs and infrastructure and continue to ‘move on’ from one construction site to another in the bleak hope of a better future.