Delhi to host In­dia’s first no­mad film fest

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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