In 2015, Israeli musician and singer Shye Ben Tzur, and Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood (he’s composed soundtracks for 5 of Paul Thomas Anderson’s films as well) collaborated with an eclectic Indian ensemble named here as the Rajasthan Express – comprising of a troupe of Qawwali singers and musicians, a brass band the kind of which is popular in many Indian weddings, and even certain archetypal instrumentalists from the Manganiar community – at the stunning Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, to cut an international fusion album called Junun. PTA accompanied the team in this fascinating musical and cultural adventure, and made this delightfully engaging and freeform diary film capturing fragments of their rehearsals and recording process. Songs – in Urdu, Hindi and Hebrew – and instrumental performances – covering guitars, trumpets, trombones, harmoniums, dholaks, sarangi, kamaicha and whatnot – gave it the stirring feel of watching a “live” jam session, and an absorbing one at that. However, while that formed its key aspect, the director also captured a number of humorous and idiosyncratic moments – the aspect that many practices in the Indian subcontinent, from playing an instrument to feeding meat to soaring eagles, are passed down from generations; pigeons refusing to leave the recording space; fickle nature of electricity; the joy of improvisation; etc. – along with dramatic aerial shots of the fort and the city, as well as vignettes of the streets and shops. Anderson was clearly more interested in capturing the experience and the ambience in this decidedly carefree production, and he also had careless fun along the way, like filming stray shots, impromptu movements of the camera in the middle of takes, etc. – things one’d never expect from a filmmaker as meticulous as him.
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Genre: Documentary/Diary Film/Musical