Kushti — More than just an ancient sport

“I took up kushti because I love it , it’s all I ever dreamt of doing since I was 10” says Nilesh Madhale passionately, a fresh- faced 24 year old from Karad .

He moved to Mumbai 8 years ago practising kushti by day and working by night in a wholesalers’ vegetable market loading vegetables in trucks. Today, he struggles financially and physically, more than half of his earnings go towards his diet, with milk, almonds and protein. He, like many others will have to give up the dream of being a wrestler.Akharas were once thriving arenas for men with muscles. Now they’re atrophying edifices of an institution that produced the heroes of Kushti.Indian wrestling,or Kushti, as it is called in India, is an ancient form of wrestling which originated in Persia. Wrestlers fight on the sand aiming to hold the opponent down against the floor.

Today,kushti suffers from neglect, and a crippling lack of funds.As in so many things in India, the conflict between tradition and modernity can be seen in wrestling too. Everywhere in the country where the sport is practiced, the debate between those who want to take the international route via mat wrestling and those who stand by the culture of the mud pit is raged.While Indian wrestlers are competitive athletes,they are also moral reformers whose conception of self and society is fundamentally somatic thereby providing a unique perspective on South Asian culture and society.

This documentary brings awareness about the slow death of this 3000 year old martial art,explore concepts of masculinity and male chastity associated with the sport and enumerate intimate stories of wrestlers’ struggles and passion for the form.

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