Dr.Meena Radhakrishna's reviews film 'Who am I ?'
by anuja — last modified 2009-02-05 13:01
Department of Sociology, Delhi University, Ex-Research Director NT/DNT Commission. Who am i ? is a 22 minute documentry film on Non Pastoral Nomads directed by Ms. Rita Banerji of Dusty foot Delhi (An Green Oscar winner)
I must thank you for sending me this chronicle of despair and hope, of nightmares and dreams in 'WHO AM I?'.
I think the film is beautifully made and brought into focus some important aspects of the community in question -- it is a film which does represent the agony of the Pardhis' existence, and to a certain extent of similar communities. Their multiple occupations, including continued hunting, being beggars, small scale traders of petty items, their being aritists or small agriculturalists, and even the fact that a few might have stolen as children is brought out with compassion and understanding. Their harassment by the police for any crime in the neighbourhood is captured through the point that in case the man is missing, the police beat up the wife. The discrimination at school and the fear of the child who forces his father to remain outside school so that he can feel safe... all these details are captured poignantly and wrench the heart. And then in the middle of all this pain, the expressed notion that I do have rights, that my life is going to be different from my parents, that I want education and a job -- all this coming from one of the community members, especially from a woman, refreshes and strengthens the viewer.
The fact comes out that many of such communities are still nomadic, and it is becasue of this they are not able to get their citizenship rights. This impossible looking situation is squarely confronted, and a way is found around it. We are shown how nomadic traders are not just given an identity, but also made safer from the harassment of the administration through issuing them identification papers with the consent of the local leaders and the police. This most neglected duty which the state should have discharged, and which has kept nomadic communities faceless and nameless is being discharged by small but determined NGOs committed to change. Relieving them from the clutches of landlord moneylenders, opening schools, training them as community workers -- these simple activities have clearly contributed to transform the lives of a section of the people, however small in number. An equally important feature of the work is shown to be holding discussions among the community --and the discussions include women -- about their legal and other social rights. These interactions, one can see on the screen, by the attentive look on the faces of the participants, young and old, men and women, that they clear the mind and strengthen the spirit.
The sight of children playing with pleasure as all children are meant to do, their holding hands symbolic of unity and strength, the faces of men and women full of concentration and hope -- these are the images which have stayed with me and will continue to stay. The last shot of the children running towards something, decidedly a better future, with confidence and energy captures this film's intent to share with the public not just the community's current distress but also their hope and faith.
I thank and congratulate the film team and the organisations involved for putting this historical process on record.
Sincerely, and with all good wishes for your future work,