Sarvesh Hada's Experimental Short Depicts The Collective Memory Of The Spaces We Inhabit

Memories Of A City
Memories Of A CitySarvesh Singh Hada

Human beings are nostalgic creatures. We're always gazing longingly at a bygone era in our past; trying to recreate the exact same magic and attempting to relive a moment we've experienced before. Nostalgia is a powerful intoxicant and our memories act as gateways through which we're able to take hit after hit of sweet, rose-tinted reminiscence.

But while talking about memory, we often overlook the collective memory of a place. Every single space that human beings have existed in is a summation of our actions over centuries. A place's history can tell you a great deal about the emotions, creativity, and even the sheer destructive potential of our species as a whole. The stories of our lives are etched into the very fabric of the environments we interact with over the course of our relatively short time on this planet and every space on our planet has a collective memory that is intrinsically interwined with our own.

Sarvesh Singh Hada's one-of-a-kind short, 'Memories Of A City', riffs on this notion of collective memory. The film's narrative unfolds like a scrapbook of fragments, with its imagery and protagonists floating around an eerie, yet enrapturing void of blackness. Its narrator fleshes out ambigious vignettes filled with fleeting glimpses of longing, loss, love, friendship and even just the general mundanity of life in a city. Watching the film is almost like peering into the mind of an arcane being; one who's witnessed the collective multitudes of a millenia. Everything you see in the film appears, moves, and dissappears like grains of sand into a limitless ocean.

Rather than having us focus on each individual story or character, the film appears to encourage us to look at each thread as one larger picture; as a collective memory of the personified space that is the film's one true protagonist.

While unconventional and almost unsettling at times, this narrative structure allows us to truly immerse ourselves in the otherwise abstract mofits that is the films subject matter. It's a cinematic journey through time, space, and human existence.

And though it might leave you with more questions than it answers, they are certainly questions worth asking. 'Memories Of A City' offers us food for thought in the transient, chaotic lives that we currently live in. It's a bold step forward for homegrown experimental cinema that dives into coneptual territory that's been woefully underexplored.

"I found myself captivated by the oldest corners of Kotah, where I would capture images of both its people and its buildings. But more than the history, it was the stories of the people that fascinated me the most. These tales, whispered among the narrow lanes of the old muhallas, seemed to hold the true essence of the city, stored within its collective memory."

Sarvesh Singh Hada

Beyond its lofty cinematic ambitions, the short is a heartfelt love letter to the city of Kota, the place where Sarvesh was born and raised. Its scenes are amalgamations of the collective stories and memories of its people and each one immerses you in their lives and their heritage.

While we've seen a number of Indian creators pay tribute to the cities that shaped them, Sarvesh's approach is one that manages to be both auteur-esque and authentic. While it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea stylistically, it provides a pivotal overarching blueprint for homegrown creators who wish to explore their roots while pushing the envelope of both narrative and visual structure.

You can follow Sarvesh here.