LOST IN MI­GRA­TION PAS­SAGES TO IN­DIA

Mi­gra­tion drama Naya Pata has made his­tory, writes Yogesh Pawar while Amrita Mad­hukalya throws light on the unique plight of the In­dian movie mi­grant Hol­ly­wood is get­ting en­am­oured by Chi­nese au­di­ences and is try­ing hard to woo them

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE -

Mi­gra­tion does not make for com­fort­able view­ing. In an un­set­tling mo­ment in Na­tional Award­win­ning film­maker Hansal Me­hta’s re­cently re­leased City Lights, pro­tag­o­nist Deepak’s ( Ra­jku­mar Rao) wife, es­sayed by new­comer Pa­tralekha, goes to a dance bar to look for a job as a last re­sort. New mi­grants to Mum­bai, Deepak and his wife land in the city from a Ra­jasthan vil­lage, only to re­alise that the Rs10,000 sav­ings they sent to some­one who promised them a house, is ab­scond­ing, and they are in the city to fend for them­selves with just a few hun­dred ru­pees in hand.

In­side the dance bar, the meek Pa­tralekha is asked to dish out the moves, and to turn around to dis­play her vi­tal stats. Numb with fear and em­bar­rass­ment, she com­plies hes­i­tantly, with a fake smile plas­tered to her face.

The is­sue of mi­gra­tion is not new to pop­u­lar In­dian cin­ema; nema; t h e Do Bigha Zameen scene where a rick­shaw- puller ( Ba­jraj Sahni) races with h a horse car­riage has s been a cel­e­brated one e over the years. Cin­ema ma of the 50s and the 60s, 0s, that gleamed on the he Nehru­vian so­cial­ist id­ede deals, po­si­tioned the mimi­grant worker in the ce­nen­tre. BR Cho­pra’s Naya a aya Daur takes the race e a notch fur­ther by pit­ting ing the tonga- rid­ing pro­t­a­gogo­nist ( Dilip Ku­mar) r) against a bus. Yash h Cho­pra’s Kaala Patt­thar, star­ring Am- itabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor and Sha­trughan Sinha, took the mi­grant strug­gle ug­gle to the the dark con­fines of a col­liery.

Away from the po­lar­is­ing mi­grant con­flicts on the pop­u­lar screen were movies like Bhim­sain Khu­rana’s Gharaonda, star­ring Amol Palekar and Za­rina Wa­hab, that brought the fo­cus on ur­ban mi­grants. Sai Paran­jpye’s Disha, with Nana Patekar, Sha­bana Azmi and Raghuvir Ya­dav in the leads, was a rare film that did not ce­ment an­other stereo­type, and showed us how the ru­ral mi­grant grap­ples in a busy, bustling city and goes back home to face the big­ger loss of a slip­ping iden­tity.

Film­maker Pawan K Shri­vas­tava’s soon- to- be- re­leased fea­ture Naya Pata tack­les this loss. “The po­lit­i­cal class will fuel de­bates to whet their in­ter­ests, pop­u­lar medi­ums will re­sort to stereo­typ­ing, and we hear a lot about brain drain. But the sub­text of this de­bate — the per­sonal loss of the mi­grant — is rarely heard,” ar­gues Shri­vas­tava.

Me­hta feels that mi­gra­tion deals with the plight of the low­est com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor, and that he felt the need to look at what drives this ex­o­dus year af­ter year. “In the Ra­jasthani vil­lage where we shot the open­ing half, ba­sic ameni­ties that you find in a Mum­bai chawl are lack­ing,” he says. His pro­tag­o­nist, who finds work in a se­cu­rity agency fer­ry­ing ev­ery­thing from cash to coke, pushes for­ward this ar­gu­ment the hard way.

While older movies made a hero out of the mi­grant at the helm of the strug­gle stacked against odds in the ru­ral- ur­ban di­vide, con­tem­po­rary movies, al­most al­ways, has him re­sort­ing to a far- reach­ing fi­nal­ity. Mi­gra­tion movies to­day usu­ally char­ter the fa­mil­iar tra­jec­tory of the help­less mi­grant grap­pling in a big bi city, who even­tu­ally re­sorts reso to some­thing dras­tic tic -- mur­der and pros­ti­tu­tion tio be­ing the two main­stays. ma

Na­tional Award- win­ning ni film­maker Jahnu Barua’s B Hkhagoroloi Bohu B Dur ( It’s a Long Way Wa to The Sea) and Band­hon Ban were ac­claimed for their t real­is­tic por­trayal al of mi­grants, shorn of melo­drama melo and tack­ling mun­dane mund mi­grant is­sues. “Mi­gra­tion is nat­u­ral, and is bound to hap­pen. While deal­ing with the topic, I tend to look at what the poor man will do and how cir­cum­stances chase him away from his nat­u­ral habi­tat. Sur­vival is more im­por­tant than po­lit­i­cal or ge­o­graph­i­cal bound­aries.”

It is ironic that the In­dian film in­dus­try is a huge clus­ter of mi­grants in it­self. Mu­si­cians from the north­east, script- writ­ers from north In­dia and cin­e­matog­ra­phers from the south make up for a neat mi­cro­cosm. And yet, the In­dian movie mi­grant will still have to travel a fair num­ber of miles to ar­rive at his des­ti­na­tion.

Ac­tor Ab­hishek Sharma in the poster of Naya Pata

Amrita. mad­hukalya@ dnain­dia. net @ vi­su­al­ly_ kei

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