Millennium Post

Voices of our ancestors

Voices of our ancestors
National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi on Thursday organised the screening of a short film Voices of the Sidis: Ancestral Links by Beheroze Shroff. The documentary based on an urban Sidi family was coordinated with the ongoing exhibition A Certain Grace- the Sidi: Indians of African desent (2005-2011) by Ketaki Sheth and is in collaboration with PhotoiNK. 

The Sidi arrived in India over 500 years ago as seafarers, merchants and slaves, from the east coast of Africa. An estimated 70,000 survive today in Gujarat and in the hinderlands of Madhya Pradesh. Over the centuries, the Sidi have embraced local languages, dress, food and religion- including Sufism, Hinuism and Christianity but retain a distinct African heritage in their appearance, dance and music.

The documentary which is of the duration of 26 minutes is an engaging portrait of an urban Sidi family in Mumbai where a father, Babubhai traces his ancestry to Zanzibar, Tanzania. Babubhai's wife Fatimaben talks about her grandmother who worked in Hindu royal court and Heena, the daughter discusses the issues of identity. Babhubhai along with his ancestral traces also discusses his past work as a stuntman in Bollywood films. 

Beheroze Shroff has made four documentaries on contemporary Sidi culture and spiritual practices and has published several research articles on aspects of contemporary Sidi life. Her documentaries have been shown at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, the Max Planck Institute in Germany, Schomburg Museum for Black Culture in New York, and at the Nairobi and Zanzibar International Arts and Music Festival, among others. 

When: Till 3 November 10 am onwards
Where: National Modern Art Gallery
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