By Anuj Malhotra & Suraj Prasad
In 1969, a scout in Bombay is entrusted with the task of finding suitable locations for titles produced by Films Division,a state organ responsible for the orchestration of propaganda films in the country. As he flaneurs his way through the bylanes of the metropolis, he chances upon a house that has remained vacant for many years. His intrigue propels him to discover that the final occupant of the house was a film actress called Rashida (declared disappeared, last sighted in 1948). This instigates for the scout a remarkable investigation - he registers in his diary a series of ancient props, anecdotes, media artefacts, newspaper cutouts, magnetic records - to eventually arrive at the startling reason for Rashida's disappearance: a 1934 film that she starred in, and of which no copies remain.
The Reanimated Corpse
will manifest as an online, multiplayer game where the participant inhabits the curiosity of our scout and traverses alongside him - or as him - the entire trajectory of the investigation itself. The player engages with Baghdadi’s diary and collects the clues scattered throughout the universe of the game in order to be able to speculate, by themselves and with others, the nature of the film that may never have been made.
The project organises itself to document the existential pursuit of the scout-figure (an immigrant-outsider in the city who seeks to contour, in absentia, through absentia, the figure of another immigrant-outsider), rendered as it is through the cosmetics of a detective investigation. This model allows it to exist at and operate from within the intersection of sociological commentary, personal lament, scientific inference and speculative fanfic.
Ultimately, The Reanimated Corpse
exists to contemplate a newer model of remembrance: it proposes that in regions where the actual, physical evidence of a film no longer remains, a method to (still) construct a film history may be through a collective, popular imagination of these absent titles - a conscious act that may allow cinema to finally attain its intended status as folklore. In effect, it constitutes an invitation to construct a mausoleum out of debris.
Zoom Meeting with Rafique Baghdadi