Towards Digitally Archiving the ‘Sharinda’

A case study of the video documentary mode for showcasing multidimensional cultural traces

Ashes Gupta

Professor, Dept. of English, Tripura University, (A Central University), Suryamaninagar, Agartala, Tripura, India. Email:

  Volume 1, Number 2, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/cjad.12.v1n204


It all began with the shooting of a documentary on the ethnic musical instruments of Tripura (specifically a video snippet on the ‘sharinda’). The idea was to document and hence to preserve them from oblivion. And keeping in mind the simple logic that essence of any musical instrument is the musicality of tune and rhythm that it offers, audio-visual mode was the obvious choice for documentation, since after all a typographical text cannot reproduce sound. The very technicality of the video documentary necessitated a holistic and comprehensive understanding of the way in which the making, music, instrumentalist trinary in focus has to be shot and documented against the backdrop of the geographical features of the land and landscape of origin, with the audio track reproducing to precision the nuances of the sound reinforced by the voice-over of the poetic texts that spoke about both the instrument and the landscape.

The live cultural circuit (to borrow and modify Louise Rosenblatt’s proposition in ‘Literature as Exploration ‘(1938) that evolves out of this intellectual osmosis has been spoken of by several theoreticians, Henry Kreisel and Ashis Nandy being the most prominent. Henry Kreisel is of the view that all discussion to the literature produced in the Canadian West or the Canadian Prairie “must of necessity begin with the impact of the landscape upon the mind” (173). What is true of the Canadian Prairie literature is universally true for all literatures across the world and also for all cultural texts in their all-inclusive textuality including music and musical instruments. In the process of shooting and editing it was perceived that every instrument such as the sharinda is inextricably intertwined with the landscape and its physical details, often replicating the natural ecological sounds, utilizing ecofriendly material and reinforcing Ashis Nandy’s proposition: “Ours probably is the age of homopsychogeographicus.” (Nandy 1999  305; italics mine.)

This could be extended to the hypothesis that every cultural trace and space including literature and music are ultimately attempts at initiating a cartography of the mind, whose documentation should invariably facilitate an understanding of the ‘homopsychogeographicus’ of the self. This paper attempts to deal with the inevitable intellectual osmosis that facilitates interaction between geography (in the sense of landscape features) and the human psyche (homopsychogeographicus) to produce cultural products including ethnic musical instruments, literature etc. and the way in which they fuse with each other to make a documentary possible.

Keywords: Sharinda, documentary, North East