Zakir And His Friends

  • 1997
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Documentary

Aptly subtitled "A Rhythm Experience," this hypnotic documentary from Swiss filmmaker Lutz Leonhardt is an exuberant celebration of the primal urge to beat one thing against another and make a little noise. At the center of Leonhardt's beautifully shot film is renowned percussionist Zakir Hussain, son of Alla Rakha, one of India's greatest living tabla...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Aptly subtitled "A Rhythm Experience," this hypnotic documentary from Swiss filmmaker Lutz Leonhardt is an exuberant celebration of the primal urge to beat one thing against another and make a little noise. At the center of Leonhardt's beautifully shot film is renowned

percussionist Zakir Hussain, son of Alla Rakha, one of India's greatest living tabla players. Hussain is seen performing classical Indian music and sitting in with various accompanists from around the word -- including jazz saxophonist George Brooks and Rakha himself -- and discussing what

tabla-playing and music in general mean to him. He's a charismatic story teller as well as a dazzling player, but the best parts of the film come when Leonhardt goes in search of Zakir's fellow percussionists. In Venezuela, he finds the children of Chuao, who use their mouths, cheeks and noggins

as human beat-boxes; in Japan, Leonhardt films the intense Kodo drummers who pound out booming rhythms on enormous drums; and in Trinidad, he captures some masterful steel-drumming of the Renegades. In each locale, Leonhardt listens for the natural rhythms to be found in daily life and locates

them in a the most unexpected places: The thwap of wet cloth against stone in a Bombay market; the pounding of onions in a pestle in Burkina Faso; and the rush of San Francisco street traffic. Forgoing any kind of narration, the film is neither overly ethnographic nor musicological (in many cases,

people, places and instruments go unnamed). Sumptuously filmed in 35mm and inventively edited, the film is rather a direct appeal to the senses -- a testament to the power of the unstoppable beat.

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  • Released: 1997
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Aptly subtitled "A Rhythm Experience," this hypnotic documentary from Swiss filmmaker Lutz Leonhardt is an exuberant celebration of the primal urge to beat one thing against another and make a little noise. At the center of Leonhardt's beautifully shot fil… (more)

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