A Musical Feast in India: Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Junun” at MFAH Films June 25, 2018

Paul Thomas Anderson’s documentary Junun, which visits our big screen a few times this summer, opens with a slow, panning shot of seated musicians and a blast of drums of all kinds: dholaks, nagaras, and more. The group—convened at the invitation of Maharaja GajSingh II of India’s Marwar-Jodhpur region—is led by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood and Israeli composer Shye Ben Tzur. 

Over the course of three weeks in 2015, they collaborated with a host of brass players, vocalists, and other musicians to produce a mesmerizing piece of music sure to draw you in.

Intimate & Monumental
The location of Junun is enticing, too: the gorgeous grounds of the Mehrangarh Fort, whose museum’s collections are featured in the MFAH exhibition Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, IndiaThe many interior shots, composed of intimate, ancient spaces illuminated by open windows, are thrown into sharp relief by the fort’s monumental scale.

Ancient & Contemporary
We experience the rehearsal and recording sessions as the musicians deal with regular power outages, roam the lively streets of Jodhpur to repair instruments, and chase pigeons out of the recording space. At once haunting and familiar, the music they produce is in multiple languages and bears the hallmarks of both ancient and contemporary sounds. Fans of Radiohead will certainly recognize the sounds of Greenwood’s guitar.

Watch & Explore
Kinship, both musical and mystic, permeates the entire film. Despite their varied origins, the musicians are clearly cut from the same cloth. The film runs a lean 54 minutes, so you’ll have plenty of time to see Peacock in the Desert upstairs in the Museum while you’re here!

Hit play to watch the trailer for “Junun.”

“Junun” screens on July 1 & 19 and August 5 & 9. Free with Museum admission, which is free on Thursdays, courtesy of Shell. Learn more.