Tales about bravery and grim realities
Day five of IFFI 2018 saw directors Satyaprakash Upadhyay (‘Bunkar: The Last of the Varanasi Weavers’), Akashaditya Lama (‘Nani Teri Morni’), and Sanoj V S (‘Burning’) discussing their films which are a part of the Indian Panorama Non Feature category.
Speaking about his film based on the struggle of the Varanasi Weavers, Upadhyay said that while people love buying the famous Banarasi sarees, 90 per cent of the sarees which people claim are Banarasi are in fact not the actual traditional Banarasi sarees. “Banarasi sarees are a luxury product with people from all over travelling to Varanasi to buy these. Yet, the weavers were struggling and not getting enough wages. It was difficult to understand why this was the case at first and so we began researching and looking for answers,” says Upadhyay. It was then that they realised that common man couldn’t tell the difference between power loom and handloom products. “They would just tell the shopkeeper to give them a Banarasi saree, without mentioning whether they wanted a handloom or power loom made one,” he says. At times, commercial establishments falsely showcased power loom made sarees as handloom made ones too, he says. Thus, there was a need to create awareness about the age of the handloom technique, the art and hardwork that goes into it. And this is what his documentary tries to do.
Sapana Sharma, the producer of the film stated that if we do not support these weavers, the art will become extinct and India which is also known at an international level for these sarees will lose this identity.
“I am thankful to IFFI and the Information and Broadcast Ministry for giving a chance for this documentary to be screened here as with a platform like this, the message gets out to a world audience,” said Upadhyay.
‘Nani Teri Morni’ meanwhile is the first film shot in Nagaland and is based on Mhonbeni Ezug, the youngest recipient of the National Bravery Award for children in 2015 when she saved her grandmother from drowning.
“While films have been made about this State before, no one has really gone there. When I began asking around as to why this was the case I learnt that they were afraid of the insurgency danger. But I felt I needed to go and shoot this film there,” says Lama. After finding the family of the child, Lama then went about getting all the permissions necessary for shooting this film. Upon researching, he realised that Mhonbeni’s house did not have a television. Instead she used to listen to her grandmother’s tales. “This reminded me of my own childhood, where my grandmother and other elders used to tell us tales which promoted good values. These stories have a huge influence on our behaviour and thoughts as we grow up,” says Lama. In fact, a day before the incident occurred, Mhonbeni’s grandmother had told her a story of a brave person who had fought a lion and saved the entire village. Lama added that shooting in Nagaland also changed the perception that the team had about the State.
Sanoj, a Keralite based in Lucknow and a journalist by profession said that his film ‘Burning’ is a story told from the perspective of two mothers brought together at a funeral ghat at Varanasi. “The film looks at how these women are subjected to forces like patriarchy, caste, religion, etc,” he said.