HYDERABAD: So what was the toughest part of shooting Mitti - Back to the Roots, a 120-minute feature film on the agrarian crisis and farmer suicides in India which highlights 26 stark issues? “Finding a producer who could spare 60 seconds with us,” quip director Anshul Sinha and his associate Dr GV Ramanjaneyulu, also a renowned agricultural scientist for 25 years who is with the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture.
The team has tried to meet 22 producers in Hyderabad, Chennai and Mumbai and got no appointment in return. “All we want is a producer who can give us an appointment where we could show our movie and convince him or her to distribute it.” The duo believe their movie is so powerful that even the mainstream moviegoer, who stands in the queue to watch the first-day-first-show of actor Balayya would watch this movie and get motivated to find a solution.
Mind you, the duo are not some random, desperate filmmakers who are here to realise their dream to watch their movie on the silver screen. “Even if our film can stop one farmer’s suicide and can fill one farmer with hope, we will think our efforts have paid off,” says Anshul. Kacheguda boy Anshul has made the city proud on ample occasions. A Mass Com and MBA finance graduate from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, he has made 41 films for which he bagged 104 Awards at various national, International film festivals and 29 international nominations to his credit. Mitti is a Hindi movie with subtitles in English and will be dubbed into other languages soon.
Says Ramanjeneyulu, “The agrarian crisis is not just the problem of the farmers. We are under the impression that our food is taken care of as long as our supermarkets are there. But our food is safe only as long as our farming is safe. The movie highlights how we have collectively failed our farmers. How the markets, the banks and the system have failed them, driving them to distress and suicides. We need to understand that farmers cannot individually find solution and we need to partner to find a solution.
The movie has been made after enormous research over a year including the film crew attending a four-month workshop. There is complete authentication of data, facts, figures as we had met actual people. In fact, we even have a website that gives all the details that went into the movie. The makers assure us that the movie has a touching narrative, a gripping story and that every character and every incident in the movie has a real life backstory. Anshul says they want to screen the movie to every farmer in India for free.
Mitti is the story of a young agricultural scientist Ekta who tries to understand the crisis in the farm sector and explores alternative paths - of a village which was put up for sale, of farmers who lost their lives chasing the dreams of big yields, of young women who tried to restore their livelihoods and of a village which gained freedom from all the clutches. Anshul says the movie has touched up issues that can be divided into three categories - economical (government policy), ecological (floods and natural disasters), and social. They are also trying out crowdfunding. Right now all that they need is around `25 lakh to bring out the movie to the masses. Dr Ramanjaneyulu says that the film is not just a timepass for farmers but will actually help farmers to comprehend what is actually happening with them and how they can come out of that situation. This conversation and film screening will save many farmers lives, he adds.
“We started working on this project in November 2015. To write the screenplay of the film, we practically learned farming and agriculture for two months under the guidance of Ramanjaneyulu. Our crowdfunding campaign started in December 2016 and ended in February 2017. We started our first shoot schedule on February 11. Our crowd funding was supported by Dinesh Chandrashekar, Suresh ediga, SAHE and others. Shooting was done in Enabavi, India’s first organic village, 100 km from Hyderabad. Currently, the film is in post-production stage. The post-production and camera is sponsored by Raasta studios.
Highlights of the film
n It’s a crowdfunded film in which 120 people have donated
n Mitti is eagerly awaiting distribution support to release it at the national level
n There are 1,000 frames in the film which was drawn in storyboard in pre-production phase
n The research of the film was done in six states
n The title song of Mitti highlights farmers’ issues in eight minutes. As per Anshul, this is the first song in India which focusses on farmers’ problems and the agrarian crisis
How alarming is the agrarian crisis in India?
n 3.2 lakh farmers have committed suicide in the last 20 years
n Every half an hour, a farmer is taking his/her life in the process of producing food for all of us
n How untested technologies are thrusted upon us in the name of modernisation
n Why farmers are taking away their lives? Why villages are up for sale?
n Issues dealt in the movie:
Farm crisis, farmer suicides, pesticide poisoning, land grab and several other issues pushing farmers into taking their lives
Details: Anshul Sinha (9010256991) and Dr Ramanjaneyulu (09000699702).