| PRESS REVIEWS
EXPLORING THE UNEXPLORED
Rhythm in Silence - a brilliant documentary on the magnificent ruins on Hampi does an excellent job of throwing new light on the lesser known aspects of Hampi.
Hampi better known for its architectural splendour, is any archaeologists delight with each and every monument singing a different tune, narrating a different story. It is a testimony to the grandeur of the past of Krishnadevaraya's Vijayanagar empire. Recent excavations have further added a dash of colour to the richness of the ruins. Rhythm in Silence, a brilliant documentary on the magnificent ruins of Hampi, is an attempt to shed new light on the lesser known aspects of Hampi, while also highlighting the grandeur of the monuments.
The documentary, which opens with a brief introduction to the grand and able rulers of Vijayanagar empire, goes on to explore the intricate details of the magnificent stone structures which have seen better days.
Though it has to be admitted that nothing can bring the rich past of Vijayanagar to life, Rhythm in Silence appears as a sincere attempt at doing justice to the glorious civilization of the past. Care has been taken to relate visuals to history to make it easy for the viewers to comprehend the film with ease. For instance, legend has it that the empire of Vijayanagar was so prosperous that precious stones like pearls and diamonds were sold in measures in the market ! Rhythm in Silence makes a candid attempt to acquaint us to such lifestyles of the rich and famous of the Vijayanagar empire while also transporting us back in time. And, whoever said that town planning and development are of the modern times ? Rhythm in Silence is an eye opener to the fact the Vijayanagar empire was commendable for its town planning too.
It is in fact, is wonderful assembly of al the elements that go into the making of the film, like sound, light and action. The film stands out for its intelligent use of natural light. The entire film has been shot in sunlight, making the magnificent stone structure of Hampi appear grandeur. The effect of light and its high and seek with time has been brilliantly captured at different times of the day, making the film all the more appealing.
The scripts which runs through the film, is scrip and to the point, while not delving deep into the annuals of history, it offers a quick peek into the past, offering a wealth of information. The effort is laudable, for, it is no easy task to relate history in a nutshell. After all, it is penned by none other Dr. K.P. Poonacha, Director (Monuments) in the Archeological Survey of India, New Delhi, who is considered an authority on Hampi.
The script is made all the more commendable by excellent narration. Stripped of all pretences and pseudo accents, the voice over by L. G. Jyothishwara is clear and easy to comprehend. The ringing voice of the narrator blocks out other influences, adding to the beauty of the film.
The music in the background is Hindustani and it gets well with the tempo of the film. The film banks heavily on non-static visuals and the hard work put in the cameraman, B.N. Vasanth Kumar is there for all to see !. Especially so when the visual of the roofs are on the screen.
Rhythm in Silence is conceptualized and directed by Mr. B. N. Chandrakanth, a Documentary Film-maker of repute, who has to his credit over a hundred documentaries and other short films. He has also directed many Kannada serials and one of his short films have been screened at the Canadian International Annual Film Festival in 1991.
The film is an abridge version of Whispering Stones, a four part series on Hampi. Mr. Chandrakanth is in all excitement talking about the films on Hampi. "I chose to work on Hampi because our knowledge of the place is limited to text books literature. Even tourists are taken only to places like the famous Virupaksha Temple and the idol of Ugra Narasimha. Hampi is not just that. You explore the wilds the bit and you'll stumble upon structures that all throw new light on the past. So much remains to be seen ! So much to be explored", he says.
After the 52 minutes Hampi treat, one only feels that the place has to be revisited to explore the unexplored.
Deccan Herald - National English Daily
ART AND SCIENCE AT HAMPI
Hampi deserves a week for a thorough exploration, says B.N. Chandra Kanth, who has recently completed a documentary on this fascinating place.
Called 'Rhythm in Silence' - the documentary captures the life and eventful times of the Vijayanagar rulers, their amazing culture, art and architecture.
Vijayanagar is recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO and attracts lakhs of visitors every year. It has great educational value and Chandrakanth wants "as many children as possible get a chance to visit it and learn about our glorious heritage". The documentary has photography by B.N. Vasanth Kumar and scripts by K.P. Poonacha - Director (monuments) Archaeological Survey of India. Poonacha was also the one who identified the interesting locations for the film.
Rhythm in Silence has two parts of 26 minutes duration each. It is an abridged version of "Whispering Stones" which has four parts and is more detailed. Chandrakanth says he has enough material to make six episodes.
Hampi has more than 500 temples and over 1000 small shrines, each different from the other in style. This maker of 300 documentaries says, "I can even make a documentary on single sites such as the queen's bath which is filled with interesting details like the sophisticated water system with hot and cold water, the drainage system and the changing rooms".
Their public buildings, stables, sewage system, water distribution and roads give us an idea of how advanced they were. In fact, their city was far better planned than Bangalore city.
An interesting aspect of the documentary is the non static visuals which make the viewer feel he / she is in Hampi. The problem with this is that it takes a little time getting used to. Another interesting points is that no artificial light is used at al in order to retain the original texture and colour of the monuments on film.
Chandrakanth has funded the project himself. The documentary cost Rs. 40 Lakhs which he borrowed from his friends. Says he, "As long as I am able to recover the money, I spent and repay all my loans, I will be happy. Once this is done, I will be able to start shooting for other documentaries for which the research has already been done.
Future projects are "Symphony in Stones", exploring the dance and music themes on Indian Architecture. Another is "The Power of Indian Women" which compares women of mythological times with today's women.
If the new film are anything like Rhythm in Silence, they will shed new light on the lesser known facts. Most people who visit Hampi get to see the usual places shown by the tour guides, but Chandrakanth's advice is that it is not possible to see the wonder of Hampi in a day, but at least six days. Of course, this is a perfectionists speaking.
The Economic Times - National English Daily
Krishnadevaraya's Hampi may be in imminent danger of loosing its glory. A documentary work on the World Heritage Site, though, is all set to go global.
But, Mr. B.N. Chandra Kanth's film on Hampi - "Whispering Stones" and "Rhythm in Silence" - have been widely acclaimed since they were first screened two years ago. And quite naturally, reams have been written about the director who collaborates with his brother, Mr. B. N. Vasanth Kumar, for each of his venture.
Mr. Chandra Kanth does not suffer from false modesty. He knows the value of his work. "The film should be seen by International audiences", he says. That statement however, does not mean that he expects appreciation for his work alone, the man is also a passionate advocate for the preservation of archeological monuments. And as far as he is concerned, nothing can beat Karnataka in terms of Archeological splendour.
Despite 20-25 years in Documentary film making, Mr. Chandra Kanth believes that the true recognition still eludes this genre. "Rhythm in Silence is yet to find a market", he says ruefully. The problem lies in peoples' preferences. "People want to see only family stories and love stories".
Documentaries too are more or less clichéd. "They are almost always prevails or on some socio-economic issues. No one wants to feature monuments", he laments.
But the man is more determined than ever to ensure that heritage sites in Karnataka and India get the attention they deserve. He already has four or five projects lined up.
One is on the Golconda Fort in Hyderabad for which he needs permission from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Another is on Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu).
Apart from these, Mr. Chandra Kanth plans a feature titled "Symphony in Stones" on dance and music in Indian architecture. And then there is a project portraying "The Power of Indian Women"… from mythological times to day's IT World. "Our Sculptors used to lavish attention on women", he points out.
The Hindu - National English Daily
DOCUMENTARY ON HAMPI
A documentary film producer has unearthed some new aspects of the Hampi ruins in his films Whispering Stones and Rhythms in Silence. "So far, all the documentaries on Hampi shows only the usual spots like the famous chariot and Ugra Narasimha. The Hampi site has much more than just these locations. These films are meant to show the less frequented and unknown parts of Hampi", says the man who conceived and directed the films, B N Chandra Kanth.
The films are produced in two parts - Whispering Stones which further has four parts to it, each of about half an hour duration, and Rhythm in Silence which is again made up of two films of half an hour duration each.
"Part I of Whispering Stones which is titled Modern City covers only the aspects of town planning that existed at Hampi. The civic amenities, the water works and other facilities are dealt with in detail here. A layman watching this part will find it hard to believe that it is a film on Hampi", says Chandra Kanth.
"Abode of Gods, the second part, deals with all the temples of Hampi. Not many know that there are about 500 major temples and close to a 1000 minor ones, some of them in very good shape, in the complex", says Chandra Kanth.
Intricate carvings figure in the third part titled Spring of Art, according to Chandra Kanth and the fourth part highlights some of the notable excavations that were made more recently and which an ordinary tourists could not have seen. "These include a three-tier construction of houses and aspects of ventilation and vaastu", says Chandra Kanth.
The other film Rhythm in Silence is only a condensation of the contents of Whispering Stones. Rhythm in Silence is meant for someone who doesn't want to go too much into detail. Whispering Stones is more detailed and has a lot of academic interest in it", says Chandra Kanth.
It was Dr. Poonacha who identified the interesting locations for us after we told him we were interested in making a comprehensive film on Hampi", adds Chandra Kanth whose brother B.N. Vasanth Kumar shot entire film.
The task took an entire year to accomplish which included six months of editing. The project being Chandra Kanth's own brain-child had to be funded out of his own pockets. "I managed it by taking loans from friends".
Chandra Kanth targets International buyers for his films and they include cultural associations and universities besides television channels. He laments the lack of regular slots for documentaries in either Doordarshan or any of the private Indian channels.
"Our typical day involved visiting the sites at 6:30 a.m. to catch the monuments in natural, tender early morning sunlight and then cover them in the different lights of the day. This involved studying the sun's light and shadow patterns for days on end", says Chandra Kanth, adding that no where in the film were reflectors or artificial lights was used.
He mentions a structure called the Sabha Mantap, which faces the north and the grain structure and texture of its stone is such that during dawn and dusk the sunlight bathes the building in gold.
"Another interesting aspect of the filming is the photography, which is non-stop, when dealing with a particular aspect of the ruins. That is, the film goes on like the human eye, which doesn't shut after seeing a spectacle, but instead remains open and roves around", says Chandra Kanth.
The music is also composed specially to match the camera movement and we found Rarajagu's. B. N. Chandra Kanth and his brother have been making documentary films mainly on order. This has been the first time they have undertaken a project of this magnitude on their own initiative.
The Asian Age - National English Daily
FILM PROVIDES GLIMPSES OF BYGONE ERA
They are the Whispering Stones of Hampi and film-maker Chandrakanth has captured the essence of these larger than life rocks that speak in their silence. Hampi, called the forgotten empire, has been brought to life by Chandrakanth, who has attempted to capture the nuances of this world heritage site (a status given by UNESCO) in a documentary film.
Whispering Stones details of the temples of Hampi and the various aspects of its architecture. "Even today, our drainage system can't compare to the one at Hampi. It astonishes me that there were commodes in the 12th and 13th century," says Chandra Kanth.
This World Heritage site kindled a fire in Chandrakanth's heart and it became his tribute to film-making. The film is divided into four parts, the Modern City - which .speaks of the civilization, Adobe of Gods - which provides in-depth knowledge of the temples and Spring of Art - which highlights the art and architecture and Rediscovering Yesterday. Chandrakanth who is in awe of Hampi's architectural brilliance, conceived the film five years ago, and began shooting two years ago.
"Lighting patterns were of utmost importance. We took a preliminary trip, as no artificial lightning was used. We worked from morning till sunset, to get the right texture and ambience", K.P. Poonacha, the director of monuments of the Archeological Survey of India and an excavations expert, also helped in the making.
Rhythm in Silence is the abridged version of Whispering Stones. From the pillars that resonate musical notes when tapped, to the ingenious sculptures, Chandrakanth and his team which include his brother, cameraman B. N. Vasanth Kumar, have taken 35 beta tapes, but found them insufficient to recapture the glory.
"Can you believe that around 50 percent of the land in Hampi has not been excavated ? There is so much to discover. It is not a forgotten empire", he quips, "We have delved into why Hampi was built. Not many know that Hanuman was born in Anjanadri and that he was a Kannadiga.....or the Lord Rama came to the Mallayavantha Raghunatha Temple here, before he went to Lanka. Sita's jewels were kept their and there are inscriptions to prove it", says Chandrakanth.
For Chandrakanth, film making is not about appreciation - it satisfies his soul. The symphony in Stones has been detailed. Chandrakanth explains, "No one has been so thorough. I have spent more than Rs. 40 Lakhs on this project. Archeological experts say it is the best academic film I have done. But I am still trying to recover the money I have spent making the film. And I can make six more with the footage we have shot", says the director, who at present is looking for financial assistance. "Documentary Film, on the other hand transport you back to the era. They open new realms, and are informative and educative".
While he aches to unearth legends, battling paltry finances is a struggle and Chandrakanth is looking forward to a time when documentaries will be appreciated for their worth.
The Asian Age - National English Daily
The video documentary produced and directed by noted Documentary film-maker B. N. Chandra Kanth at a cost of Rs. 40 lakh has already won laurels from the viewers and the media for its effective depiction of the biggest world heritage site recognized by the UNESCO.
Relishing the project of international exposure, he said he was happy about the opportunity given to expose India's rich culture and heritage.
Deccan Herald - National English Daily
The recent excavations at the site which brought into light the existence of a large number of temples, mantaps, palatial complex and basement of platforms, were highlighted in the short films.
Stone images, terracotta objects and stucco figures that once embellished the palaces and also been portrayed the released said. The documentary had excellent photography by B.N. Vasanth Kumar and script by archaeologist K.P. Poonacha.
The Asian Age - National English Daily
DOCUMENTARIES TAKE THE VIEWERS BACK IN TIME
The architectural splendour of Hampi is well known. Those who have not visited the place, will recognize it as its photographs have been widely published. B N Chandra Kanth's Whispering Stones, a comprehensive four part documentary and Rhythm in Silence, a two part documentary explain why the place is declared as a World Heritage Site. That documentaries take the viewer back in time, showcasing an expanse of 25 Kms of the Vijayanagar kingdom.
It is beautifully photographed by the director's brother B N Vasanth Kumar and meaningfully scripted by Dr. K.P. Poonacha, Director (Monuments), Archeological Survey of India.
While the amazing architecture of temples and dilapidated public buildings can leave any visitor gasping, what is much more noteworthy is the meticulous attention that the Vijayanagar kings gave to town planning. The roads, the various public and private baths, the sewerage system, the stables, the officers' quarters offer ample evidence about the advanced state of civilization. It is for this reason that the site containing ruins, many of which were restored, has been selected as a World Heritage Site. Extensive ground work has gone into the making of the documentary. As the director B.N. Chandra Kanth pointed out, the documentaries, well researched, took him two years.
But no one has showed any interest in his documentaries. Which only seems to prove the general notion that it is a sin to be creative and enterprising in Karnataka.
The Asian Age - National English Daily
WHEN STONES SING
Hampi, now the World Heritage site, stands as testimony to the glory and grandeur of the Vijayanagar empire. Two documentaries on Hampi by city-based film maker B N Chandra Kanth offer interesting fare.
Excellent lighting and crisp narration. These are the interesting aspects of Whispering Stones and Rhythm in Silence, the two documentaries on Hampi conceptualized and directed by B N Chandra Kanth.
The effect of the light is subtle and it takes a while to realise that the beautiful ruins at the capital of the Vijayanagar Kingdom are made more striking because of the effective use of abundantly available sunlight. The reddish sun at dawn and its fading glow at dusk make the visuals all the more appealing.
But even before the appealing and imaginative use of the available light gets noticed, it is the narration which drawn attention. Infact the narration is the big surprise as it gives both the documentaries a very neat and crisp feel. There is no pseudo accent and L. G. Jyothiswhara's narration is remarkable for its diction. It does help that he has a strong voice which is not buried by the grandeur of the Hampi ruins. The clear and concise narration will definitely make marketing easier.
The focus of Whispering Stones is commendable. Hampi, recognized as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, stands as testimony to the grandeur of the Vijayanagar empire which was founded by Harihara and Bukkaraya around the 13th Century.
Fortunately, Chandra Kanth has not given us 105 minutes of documented history ! Instead, he sheds light on lesser known aspects of Hampi like its excellent planning and development.
For one brought up on dull Films Division or Doordarshan documentaries, these two productions are like a breath of fresh air. Whispering Stones is divided into four parts - 'Modern City', 'Abode of Gods', "Spring of Art', and 'Re-discovering Yesterday', the four parts talk about Hampi - the city, its temples and shrines, temple architecture, and finally give an overview of the excavation and restoration work in progress.
Rhythm in Silence is an abridged version of the above and hence is shorter and not as detailed.
The Idea of documentary on Hampi came about because no one has done something like this earlier. Deeply affected by the beautiful ruins of Hampi, Chandra Kanth wanted to tell the world the story of the stones.
Constantly moving and providing a stark contrast to the ruins, the camera does bring the stones to life as intended. Right through Whispering Stones one gets to see some excellent visuals. Before the senses have assimilated a breath taking piece of art, the camera has already moved on to something else. So, a high level of concentration is called for when viewing this film.
Chandra Kanth idea of using non-static visuals was mainly to offset the static nature of the ruins and of course, breathe life into them. "Static visuals on the screen will not be very appealing to the viewer, especially as the attempt in this film is to bring the stones to life", he says. While one can seen the director's point of view, it does take some getting used to, especially if one is viewing the shorter film.
Infact, some of visuals of the roofs were taken by making the cameraman lie on a gunny bag - camera pointing upwards - and then puling the bag along the area to be filmed. Seen in this light, the work by the director's brother B N Vasanth Kumar is quite good. The background score keeps pace with the tempo of the film. Hindustani classical music has been chosen keeping in mind that Carnatic music could be a slower.
The script itself is full of details and contains a wealth of information, but then one would not expect anything less as it has been penned by Dr. K.P. Poonacha, Director (Monuments) in the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), New Delhi.
Doing justice to something as magnificent as Hampi can be thought task. And this difficulty is amply demonstrated in the 50 minutes Rhythm in Silence. Whispering Stones clearly scores over its shorter sibling because of the additional 50 minutes the director got to play around with. In fact, Chandra Kanth states that he has so much of unused footage that he can make half a dozen more films on Hampi.
But Hampi is such a varied feast that even after seeing 105 minutes of it on screen one is left with the feeling that there is more exotic fare to be sampled. But as a chronicle of Hampi, the city of temples, Whispering Stones does adequate justice to Harihara and Bukkaraya and all those great kings of Vijayanagar who made Hampi what it was - grand and glorious.
Deccan Herald - National English Daily
WHEN STONES SPEAK
Whispering Stones - produced and directed by B N Chandra Kanth, is a foray into documenting the ruins of grand expanses of a once flourishing empire. It is a visual treat for history buffs and budding archaeologists.
Whispering Stones is a four part documentary while Rhythm in Silence is a two part series. The effort is laudable, considering that our knowledge of history is restricted to text book literature.
Whispering Stones focuses on different aspects of architecture of Hampi and its rulers, while Rhythm in Silence is devoted to explaining the 'shaili' of the temples and recent excavations that shed new light on the civilization of Vijayanagar.
Whispering Stones traces the history of the Vijayanagar empire and its rulers through its four parts - Modern City, Abode of Gods, Spring of Art and Rediscovering Yesterday. 'Modern City' traces the care given to the construction of civic amenities and public building of that time by the rulers of Hampi with mention of the works done by the founders of Vijayanagar Kingdom, Harihara and Bukkaraya.
The second part of 'Abode of the Gods' as the name suggests, is a detailed inventory of the temples in and around Hampi. 'Spring of Arts' focuses on the architecture of the period, detailing the flawless symmetry and talent of the sculptors. 'Rediscovering Yesterday' takes us through the remains of buildings and the efforts to conserve these monuments.
A family production, Chandra Kanth's brother B N Vasanth Kumar has done a good job with the camera, while narration by L.G. Jyothishwara is concise. Music by Rarajagu enlivens the otherwise tedious procedure of documenting stones.
A methodical and step by step production, Whispering Stones and Rhythms in Silence is no doubt a rich source of knowledge for the layman, student and archaeologist alike. Chandra Kanth hopes to garner an International audience. One of his earlier films, Hennu Mannu based on one of Ta Ra Su's short stories was included in the Canadian International Annual Film Festival in 1991.
He says this effort is to invoke interest among people for these wonderful remains of a silent empire that has been declared as a World Heritage Site.
The New Indian Express - National English Daily
EVOCATIVE AND MEMORABLE
Hampi is very photographic. Seen from any angle and at any time, it makes for arresting viewing. The desolate ruins stand witness to the destruction of Sri Krishnadevaraya's 12th Century empire.
The stone carvings are there waiting to be captured in all their glory. And young documentary maker and TV serials director B N Chandra Kanth did just that with a four part documentary - "Whispering Stones ; Rhythm in Silence".
His brother B N Vasanth Kumar has deftly captured the silent ruins of a glorious civilization through his camera.
Surprisingly such a vast treasure of material, declared by the Union Government as "World Heritage Site", has never been documented by the State Government.
All it has are a few brochures with photographs of the stone chariot, Ugra Narasimha statute and Virupaksha temple etc.
Chandra Kanth's documentaries will probably be the first comprehensive video covering nearly 500 temples and more than 1000 small shrines, each carved beautifully in a different style.
It even has academic details about the latest excavations. The use of 'alapana' of Hindustani music captures the poignant mood, making the documentary evocative and memorable.
The New Indian Express - National English Daily
SELECTIVE AUDIENCE SPELLBOUND
The premiere of first ever documentary film series on Hampi left a selective audience spellbound.
The grandeur of Hampi, the erstwhile Kingdom of Vijayanagar Kingdom in present Hospet taluk, declared as "World Heritage Site' by UNESCO, has been captured on celluloid in two episodes by a city based firm Vasanth Visuals.
'Whispering Stones' (four parts) and 'Rhythm in Silence' (two parts) series speaks about the majestic ruins of Hampi and the role of archeological institutions.
Well known movie director T S Nagabharana launching 'Rhythm in Silence', said that documentaries were a visual feast and took back the viewer to an era centuries ago, "I myself being a film maker envy the team which made this", he added.
Former Doordarshan Assistant Station Director Nalini Ramanna said efforts were made earlier also to capture the grandeur of Hampi ruins. However, the documentaries by Director B N Chandra Kanth has been the best effort so far.
Chandra Kanth sharing the credit along with his seven members, said it was his long desire to capture the grandeur on celluloid.
The New Indian Express - National English Daily
DOCUMENTING HISTORY ON CELLULOIDDespite the increasing influence of feature films and television serials, a few documentary film makers have been able to overcome difficulties and create memorable works. Mr. B.N. Chandra Kanth who was inspired by short stories to try his hand at film making is among them.
Mr. Chandra Kanth recent ventures "Whispering Stones" a four part documentary on the ruins of Vijayanagar Empire (Hampi) has drawn the attention.
"Feature films and mega serials are not enduring as works of art. But a good documentary film is able to make an everlasting impression, depending on its theme and content. The objective of feature films and mega serials is entertainment and they hardly pay any attention to the right of information of the audience. It is unfortunate that even a section of the educated think that only news programmes are information and that documentaries are boring".
"Dissemination of information is important in a developing country. Features films or mega serials cannot match documentaries in providing information".
"It is a matter of taste. I am aware that people prefer to watch what appeals to their sentiments rather than to their intellect. We should know that we are in the age of information. It is time that the authorities concerned concentrate on the concept of "Infotainment". It is not fair to force viewers to watch sentimental stories or crime stories. When people can find time to watch feature films and mega serials, why do they not find time to watch programmes which provide information ?"
"A minimum of Rs. 5 Lakhs is needed to produce a good documentary. It is not enough to have a good script to produce a good film. The directors, cameraman and editors should have independence to visualise and translate their concepts. The quality of equipment plays a vital role in deciding the quality of the final product".
"My brother Mr. B.N. Vasanth Kumar who is the Cinematographer for the film, has tried to capture the ruins of Hampi in its original splendour under natural lights. I am now planning to screen the film for an International audience. I am also thinking of making documentaries on Carnatic music and the heritage of Karnataka.
The Hindu - National English Daily
His documentaries on Hampi, titled the Whispering Stones and Rhythms in Silence, have won rave review for the manner in which they have narrated the history of the Vijayanagar empire in a new light. They also stand out, for being one of their kind on Hampi.
"It was quiet appalling to note that Hampi has so many monuments of great archeological value that are neglected. Tourists don't even know about the existence of these monuments as they are taken only to a few well known places like the Virupaksha temple, the stone chariot and the Purandara temple. Not many of us know the real value of the place. That is when I felt I had to unearth new aspects of the Hampi ruins, the less fragmented parts of the place, bring it to everybody's notice, the result was Whispering Stones and Rhythm in Silence".
"My intention was to showcase the immense archeological wealth of the ruins in a way that would make people sit up and take notice. If any documentaries have at least succeeded in creating an everlasting impression on the minds of the people, then I consider myself successful".
Deccan Herald - National English Daily
B.N. Chandrakanth fearlessness is frightening. But then passion is always difficult to understand. He sits in his modest home in Jayanagar, trying to make one see what goaded him and his brother, cinematographer B.N. Vasanth Kumar, to put in their life's savings in Whispering Stones, a four part documentary on Hampi even though they know from past experience that neither the audience nor the media has patience for anything as demanding as an intelligent exploration of the past.
He has no qualms in admitting that he is in trouble. That unless the world rights of his film are snapped up, his loans mounting upto Rs. 40 Lakhs will not be repaid and the path not cleared for further ventures.
Though he will concede after 20 years of active film making that, "only my interest has brought me so far. There is no slot anywhere for information based programmes. People want entertainment and see the same old stories time and again. Even a 30 minute slot on TV in an entire day is not given to documentaries. That is why documentary film-makers get no sponsors, no exposure".
Still, Hampi was a story waiting to be told. "Though it is a UNESCO recognised heritage site, not one line is devoted to it on UNESCO's website", he says.
Chandrakanth's Whispering Stones, the only comprehensive documentary ever made on Hampi, and its abridged version Rhythm of Silence bring the undiscovered aspects of Hampi into the limelight. He films Hampi not as a lost kingdom but a living one, an abode of Gods that was also a modern city. He dwells upon the striking modernity of Hampi's town planning, public buildings, stables, roads, its sophisticated civic amenities and water distribution system in stunning detail. "could make a single documentary on the Queen's bath which had a hot and cold water system, smart drainage and even changing rooms ! I could make six more documentaries out of the unedited footage on Hampi that I still have", he says.
He also focuses on the temples of the Kingdom. "More than 500 major temples and nearly 1000 minor ones are strewn around in Hampi", he says incredulously. His film also lingers on the architectural details, the intricate carvings and the excavations (featuring a three-tier construction reminiscent of apartments complete with ventilation and Vaastu-friendly details) that only the well-informed tourist to Hampi would care to seek out.
The star of Whispering Stones is not just Hampi but the empathetic camera that captures its beauty. Chandrakanth gives his brother and cameraman B.N. Vasanth Kumar full credit for this. Both were clear at the onset that Hampi's textured shadows, its grainy, sun-bathed stones, would not react well to artificial lighting. The two then spent countless for dawn to dusk at Hampi, studying how sunlight, in its most tender from and at its most punishing worst, treated the monuments. They studied the patterns of shadows on the ruins three months before the actual shooting and when the filming begin finally, without reflectors and artificial lights, they knew exactly what each stone would look like at a given point in the day !.
Another thing the camera does in the film is to pretend to be a moving human eye. It continuously moves, taking the viewer along with it from one visual feast to another.
The well researched script by K.P. Poonacha, Director (Monuments), Archeological Survey of India, provides invaluable insights into the glorious Vijayanagar empire.
Even after more than 100 documentary films, short films and even Kannada serials (which he makes to fund his 'unpopular' ventures), Chandrakanth is still struggling to raise money for his future projects. He has stopped imagining how the government could have used his film to market Hampi to domestic tourists or to educate school children in villages and in cities. He already has four more projects simmering in his mind. Where will the money come from ? Who knows ? Like a compulsive mountaineer, Chandrakanth climbs a forbidding hill when he sees it. Sometimes, even when the oxygen runs out. There is a life beyond cinema. he has to film it, simple.
The New Indian Express - National English Daily
SCULPTURES LEAP TO LIFE
You have heard so much about the whispering stones of Hampi, now watch the evanescent glory of the land of video.
B.N. Chandra Kanth has made two short films Whispering Stones and Rhythm in Silence. "Most documentaries on Hampi hover on popular tourist locations, my films focus on the other aspects. No academic study of Hampi has yet been done. The ultimate tribute to Hampi through films is yet to be paid", says Chandra Kanth who is also a cartoonist of note.
Whispering Stones is a four part series, while Rhythm in Silence is a concise two part version. The inaugural part of Whispering Stones - Modern City - revolves around civic amenities, two planning, water facilities and engineering skills. The second episode, Abode of Gods focuses in loving detail on the temples - imposing and small - that dot the seat of the Vijayanagar empire. Frescos, sculptures leap to life, stone lotuses bloom under the camera eye.
Spring of Art, the third episode, zooms on intricacies - an ornate mantap, musical pillars and desolate shrines.
The last part, entitled Rediscovering Yesterday deals with the ongoing process of excavation conservation and preservation in Hampi. The splendid Queen's Bath and the sprawling Elephant Stables are among the recently dug up marvels. No wonder, Hampi has been declared a world heritage by the UNESCO.
Chandra Kanth outfit Vasanth Visuals has produced the films and the camera work has been executed by his brother B.N. Vasanth Kumar.
Chandra Kanth says no reflector or artificial lighting was used while shooting, "My idea was to produce the right texture of the stone, the grain as seen in natural light. We have maintained lighting continuity". He is hoping to garner on International audience.
The Times of India - National English Daily
GEMS OF HISTORY
The silent and sober B N Chandra Kanth has every reason to smile. An author, documentary film maker, short films director, television and radio director is proud that his notable work Whispering Stones - a four part documentary film ever made on World Heritage Site Hampi for International audience. For the first time Whispering Stones of Hampi captures little known nuggets and gems of history. Vijayanagar is recognized as a World Heritage site by UNESCO and attracts lakhs of visitors from all over the world. The documentary is an important historical narrative which shows Hampi is an entirely new light informs Chandra Kanth. Hampi still has more than 500 temples and small shrines exceed 1000 in number. Each is different from the other in style. It is not merely a monument in stone. It has withstood more than eight centuries of political changes, variety of art and architecture and a system that nurtured an outlook for ahead of its time.
This documentary has the stone images and terracotta objects that once embellished the palaces. The documentary has photograph by B N Vasanth Kumar and script by archeologist K P Poonacha.
Screen - National Film Weekly Newspaper
The awe inspiring ruins of Hampi, the capital of the Vijayanagar empire, have been captured evocatively on film by Director B. N. Chandra Kanth. His two part documentary on the ruins of Hampi, Rhythm in Silence, which is an abridged form of the four part Whispering Stones, was screened for the press earlier this week.
The film is absorbing for its documents the minutest of details about the sculptures and the excavations sites entirely in natural light, without using reflectors or artificial lights. With skillful directorial work, Chandra Kanth (who has short more than 100 documentaries) lets us see the world heritage site in a new perspective. These documentaries are a rich source of information for those interested in historical monuments and architecture too.
English narration by L G Jyotishwara and lively photography by B N Vasanth Kumar add to the charm of the documentary. The script for the documentary has been done by K P Poonacha, Director (Monuments), Archeological Survey of India, and editing has been done the K. Chandraiah. Background score has been done by Rarajagu.
Chandra Kanth, unfortunately, has not been able to find market for his documentary.
Deccan Herald - National English Daily
'Rhythm in Silence' a two part documentary on the ruins of Hampi, Vijayanagar empire has achieved the distinction. The video documentary, produced and directed by noted documentary film maker B.N. Chandra Kanth at a cost of Rs. 40 lakhs has already won the laurels from the viewers and the media for its effective depiction of the biggest world heritage site recognised by the UNESCO.
Each part would have a duration of 28 minutes taking the viewers through the lost empire in a effectively communicative way. "I am happy that an opportunity is given to expose India's rich culture and heritage through the documentary. I am not eager to receive any award, but this will provide me an opportunity to scout for the prospective buyers for the documentary film which was yet to attract Indians", he regretted.
- United News of India
Hampi evokes memories of the might Vijayanagar Empire. The Stone Chariot, which appears as through it has just been finished, is one its most enduring symbols.
As the mind ascends this stone chariot, it begins to wander around the Vijayanagar Empire. The next moment, Virupaksha Temple, Ugra Narasimha, ruins of hundred of temples, remains of palaces begin to take to us.
Two documentaries made by Journalist and Documentary film-maker of International repute B.N. Chandra Kanth - Whispering Stones (four parts - 45 mts) and Rhythm in Silence (two parts - 52 mts) stand out as new milestones. While breaking new ground in the documentation of historic monuments, these films display a remarkable sensitivity to historic narration, and attention to architectural and creative details of the sculptures. A sweeping overview combines with scholastic correctness.
Historians, Conservationists, Environmentalists, Vaastu experts, Poet and Artists attempting to preserve what is left of the glory of Hampi will welcome this portrayal. Hampi, which stands now as a silent witness to a bygone era of Vijayanagar history, tradition and splendour has been recognized as a World Heritage Centre by UN.
Documentary making is a separate discipline. Historic outlook, creative expression and a control over the medium, have combined how to produce a masterpiece.
The relics of Vijayanagar, which stands proud as the representatives of Indian history and culture. This documentary catches them on film before they could go, forbid and vanish.
The Hampi of tourists and visitors is quite different from the Hampi seen by historians, archeologists, researchers and artists. Chandrakanth highlights this throughout the film. The praise showered on this film by Jnanpith Awardee Prof. U.R. Anantha Murthy, YNK, Noted Film Director Girish Kasarvalli, well-known Critic KTN Shastri is a testimony to this.
This documentary takes us back to those times with very subtle and gripping narration, which lays bare several intricate details. The culture, art and vaastu enthralls us as the films takes us beyond, giving us details about water distribution, urban planning and design and irrigation during Vijayanagar times.
Sri Ajay Shankar - Director General of ASI and Dr. K.P. Poonacha - Director, Monuments, have praised the film, saying that it is an important contribution to the department, because of the detailed manner in which it studies and films Hampi, aiding and altering for this research.
The Director - B.N. Chandra Kanth is a veteran Documentary film-maker recognised by the Documentary Films Committee of Doordarshan
B.N. Vasanth Kumar's photography enhances both the beauty and seriousness of the documentary, enabling it to grip viewers.
The music, another refreshing highlights of the film is lifting. Composed by Ra Ra it enhances and grip the mind, highlighting the detailed and crisp and powerful narration brings the grandeur of Hampi alive.
Karmaveera - Leading Kannada Periodical
NEW LIGHT ON THE RUINS OF HAMPI
Hampi, where precious stones and gems were sold in open streets out of measure of Ballis, an ancient measure, is world famous. The Vijayanagar Empire flourished between 13th and 16th Centuries, earning acclaim the World over by awestruck travellers. Its capital, Hampi is now a silent witness to the splendour of a bygone era. One which are artistry and craftsmanship far ahead of its time, unequalled.
The systematic indifference has not spared Hampi, either. Attempts to pressure and protect such a great monument and attract tourists are non-existent. Though history tells us about Hampi's grandeur, the restoration of Hampi has not taken places in the desired manner and pace. Though some films have shown lists of Hampi, they have by and large sidestepped its great attractions - the bazaar streets, Virupaksha temples, unique oil paintings, Peddangadi streets, the various arches, walkways and domes and the numerous rock paintings etc.
In such a scenario, the first films documentary Hampi in all its glory comes as a breadth of fresh air. Whispering Stones and Rhythm On Silence has produced and directed by B.N. Chandra Kanth, a Kannidiga is a proud and poetic presentation.
This film runs for a little over two-and-a-half hours. The first part has four parts - Modern city, Abode of Gods, Spring of Arts, Re-discovering Yesterday.
Hampi - capital of forgotten empire, has over 500 main temples and more than 1000 temples towers, each different from the other. Several now artifacts are being brought to light by fresh excavation of ASI. Visualized idols and falling temple walls are being rebuilt. The film, which throws new light on these, highlights the city planning methods, civic water distribution system, confluences of various arts, army, business. The various mahals, courtyards and river, Mahanavami dibba - all in a smooth narrative. The external legends about Hampi have also been mentioned.
This films, the first of its kind, makes use of natural light throughout. Capturing unknown, but important facets of Hampi, the film polishes nuggets a history and holds this up for us to see.
Briefly, this is a tribute of words to a bright chapter of yesterday ; a recap of milestones history ; a story of yesterday that enchants tomorrow ; a retracing of the footsteps of our ancestors.
Kannada Prabha - Leading Kannada Daily
EXCERPTS FROM WELL KNOWN PERSONALITIES
B. N. Chandra Kanth's documentary films on historical Hampi are scholarly, informative but never dull. They are artistically conceived and therefore, they have the power to suggest that there is much more in Hampi than what is shown in the films. The films are useful to the general public as well as scholar. I have seen Hampi before, but I am sure I will see the great place better after having seen these films.
Dr. U.R. Anantha Murthy
INCREASES THE VIEWERS THIRST
Hampi, a rare empire that flowered in stone sculptures, that speak, has to wait this long for its beauty to be captured on films by B.N. Vasanth Kumar under B. N. Chandra Kanth's directional baton. These great 'Sthavara' (stationery) structures that grip one's attention and increases the viewers thirst for more than four absorbing hours, have been captured by this 'Jangama' (moving) Camera. This great documentary - Whispering Stones, is ample proof that this sculpture Sthavara, is indeed, eternal.
Through a time machine transporting us to yesterday, and affording glimpses of a grand and great empire, this film is a tribute to the spirit of adventure of the Director and Cameraman and their crew.
BRIMS WITH THE POTENTIAL
When we consider yesterday as a part of today, History yields totally different insights. For this creative counterpoint to deepen and become more evocative, it is imperative that we criss-cross through the timeless doors of History again and again. B.N. Chandra Kanth's 'Whispering Stones' brims with the potential to qualify as a rich source that supports efforts in this direction. Hampi's Monuments, which represent an important stage in the heritage of Karnataka have been documented in a way that empowers further study and delineation. This series of sensitive visualizations of Hampi's grandeur opens a new, wider window on the Vijayanagar Empire.
THE CAMERA CAPTURES IN GREAT DETAILS WITH GREAT PENETRATION AND FEELING
Whispering Stones reveal a wonderful insight into hither to un-traversed mysteries of one of our heritage - landmarks, Hampi. This presentation methodically explores the bygone era's roots, culture, art and architecture with rare sensitivity. It takes a leisurely detour into the lesser known aspects of the Vijayanagar Ruler, Krishnadevaraya's obsession with monuments and has emphasis encouraging artisans of his time to excel in their fields. Whether it is the intricate carving on stone chariot or analyzing the urban planning in the town, the camera captures all details with great penetration and feeling. B.N. Chandra Kanth has used evocative music to go with the visuals to give a fullness to the entire work.
The department is proud that under the guidance rendered by Dr. K.P. Poonacha, Director (Monuments) Archeological Survey of India, New Delhi, 'Whispering Stone' made by Vasanth Visuals, is an effort that makes an important contribution to improve our understand and about Hampi (Vijayanagar) a world heritage site. This laudable effort vastly enhances public perception about the richness and splendour of this once Great Empire.
Ajay Shankar, IAS
A NEW MILESTONE
Whispering Stone and Rhythm in Silence - documentary films series on Hampi a world heritage site affords viewers the satisfaction of actually visiting those amazing ruins. These detailed and different documentary represent a new milestones on the pathway to understand them better.
Dr. K.P. Poonacha
TREMENDOUS DEDICATION, DELIGHTS THE MIND
As history that dubs a temple of "Art" as "halu" (ruined) Hampe, states us in the face, here comes an audio - visual achievements that speaks differently - fills the seeing and discerning eye with a new life, regenerates refinement, makes us feel timeless and recreates yesterdays grandeur. This huge achievement, made possible by tremendous dedication, delights the mind and refines our senses. Sri. B.N. Chandra Kanth's and B.N. Vasanth Kumar's labour of live is truly worthy and fulfilling-encouraging it is an absolute must for - aren't we all, Kannadigas ?"
Nataratnakara Master Hirannaiah
UNRAVELS THE UNHEARD, CARRY ITS GRANDEUR TO THE VIEWERS AROUND THE WORLD.
B. N. Chandra Kanth has opened our ears to hear the whisper of stones of yester-years. Through the centuries, these stones have carried their stories. Some of the are heard, several stores unheard. This documentary unravels the unheard. The amazing arts ad architecture of Hampi is captured in lovely visuals. The town planning, the water supply and sanitary system, the arrangements of Noble and Administrative quarters - all these come through in vivid details, and so are the well known temples, palaces, stone chariot and the idols. The Vijayanagar empire is truly rediscovered.Hampi is the World Heritage locale. This documentary will carry its grandeur to the viewers around the world.
C. R. Simha
EXCELLENTLY CAPTURED BY THE CAMERA
Hampi which evokes so much pride in India's glorious past, has been excellently captured by the camera - taking the viewer to every remote corner of the magnificent ruins, showing excavations, places and various aspects then existent, which is normal tourist can hardly get to see. Congratulations for the Whispering Stones and more concise Rhythm in Silence, which are a treat to view. A commendable efforts wishing all success.