Now that Alan Lomax’s book is published in Spain The land where the blues was born, Perhaps this film is worth to illustrate —and by the way recognize— the unpayable debt of the universal patrimony with the folklorists. In the same way that Lomax crossed the Appalachians or the Mississippi Delta with his recording equipment and his notebooks, this film vindicates the quiet adventure of the ethnomusicologists, the popularists of lost popular songs, purists determined to preserve a legacy that without them he would be hopelessly lost.
In his second feature film, the Indian Chaitanya Tamhane focuses on a complex world, that of the traditional music of North India and on the men and women who, far from any fad, keep alive an ancestral oral culture and philosophy. The protagonist of The disciple He is the son of a folklorist who, after the death of his father, seeks his own place in this tradition alongside an old cante guru. The struggle that the young disciple maintains with the limits of his own talent, the memory of the teachings of his father or those of his demanding teacher make up the body of a film that can be exasperating for those who cannot overcome the litany, those enveloping and infinite mantras, from the old songs of Raga.
Those who do cross that musical wall will reach the heart of a beautiful film, which takes its time in each shot, and of a character that resists only one face. A guy who, as Lomax himself did, follows in the rigorous and frustrated footsteps of his father, and years later he too faces the vagaries of true talent. In its almost silent way —paradox of a musical film—, the combat that this film talks about can only be resolved from that epic and that work ethic, and of course, from failure, which will always accompany the indefatigable hunters of sounds.