Delhi to host India’s first nomad film fest
Mumbai: India’s first nomad film festival is slated to be held in Delhi on September 4. The seven documentary film selected for the event will showcase the struggle and the hardships of the people belonging to denotified and nomadic tribes which are often dubbed as “criminal”. One of the organisers of the festival is Dakxin Bajrangi who is a noted theatre artist and filmmaker from Ahmedabad and comes from Chhara community which was earlier known as ‘ thieves tribe’. In a telephonic interview with dna’s Kanchan Srivastava, Bajrangi, who has won several awards in India and abroad for his humanitarian work, seeks to justify the need of such community- based festival.
India hosts several film festivals based on different generes and themes. Why do we need community- specific film festival? India does have festivals based on different themes. But we wanted to have a film festival focused on struggles of denotified and nomadic tribes with the aim to change the mindset of people who continue to believe these tribes are criminal even as the government had dropped the British period references on August, 31, 1952. Secondly, we wish to initiate a dialogue between filmmakers and larger society including activists and media to make people aware about hardships of the crores of people who lost their livelihood with one stroke of law restricting use of animals. Snake charmers and Madaaris were suddenly out of job as they couldn’t keep wild animals anymore.
There was no rehabilitation plan either so most of them turned to begging. Some communities, like my own “Chhara” tribe, were into crimes decades back but cops and media still paint the entire community as criminal. The festival seeks to break all those myths and sensitise youngsters.
Please tell about your movie ‘ Fight for surrender’ which will be showcased in the festival It is based on a real story about a man who made headlines in 2004 when a group of animal activists captured and bundled him along with four snake- charmers into 5 by10 feet cage, that too with a mon- key atop. The film was made in 2005 but things haven’t changed much even now. Except Maharashtra, no state or Central government has any welfare plan for these tribes which are socially, politically and economically backward. Maharashtra offers separate reservation for VJ/ NT. Centre considers nomadic tribes under OBCs where quota benefits are usually taken away by the “forward” communities. Unfortunately, we don’t have a strong political leader which further affects our welfare.
The festival will also showcase a film directed you which is based on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Maninagar. What is the story about? Film ‘ Bulldozer’ is based on the struggle of 200- odd nomad families living outside the railway station of Maninagar. The state government wanted the families to vacate the area for a road- widening project. We fought for people’s rights and won the case in the Supreme Court in 2011. The apex court had directed the state to provide land to these families so that they can build new houses. Six years on, the land is yet to be allotted to them. Meanwhile, some of the petitioners passed away. I have written to the government many times. We hoped that things would change as Modi rose to be became prime minister from chief minister. Nothing happened.
( Above) The poster of the festival. ( Left) Dakxin Bajrangi