Recording a Farmer's Plight
By Express Features | Published: 10th January 2014 09:43 AM |
Beyond the luscious greenery of paddy fields stand Chingan Pulayan and his alter-ego, a scarecrow. Weathered and worn-out with age, Chingan and his companion struggle to keep up with the so called ‘developments’ happening around them. Chingan, who is completing his 96th year, has been leading an agrarian life ever since he could remember. When the world relegated farming on their way forward, this thespian from the yore is unable to find solace in a land he’s failed to recognise. ‘Nenmanikyam’, a 28-minute-long documentary which has clinched many plaudits by now, including the best second documentary and best cinematographer awards at Smita Patil Documentary and Short Film Festival, is M Venukumar’s twelfth outing as a documentary director. At a time when the agricultural production is on the wane, the documentary which dabbles with the plight of farmers due to the increasing paddy field reclamations makes for a watch worthwhile.
“Farming is no more a career option. For peasants like Chingan Pulayan, who knows nothing other than paddy farming, this has not yet dawned on them. He carries a pouch of paddy seeds on his waist but there is no land for him to sow them,” says Venukumar.
In breathtaking frames Venukumar cans the melancholic undertone of the theme, while caring best not to lose the seriousness of it at all. In his earnest attempt to bring this issue to light, he has used a child as the grandson of Chingan Pulayan, who likes to indulge in farming. While the propagators of modernism condescend Chingan and his scarecrow as the remnants of an agrarian past, his grandchild, a representative of modern era embraces farming with both his hands.The child prefers mud for any playground. Thronging with beautiful visuals and throbbing heartaches, Venukumar’s ‘Nenmanikyam’ succeeds in holding the viewer’s attention for 28-long-minutes. The helplessness exuding from Chingan and his scarecrow becomes palpable when a JCB rampages through their field and reclaims it. ‘Nenmanikyam’, which was selected to screen at the CMS Vathavaran Environmental Film Festival, New Delhi to be held from January 30-February 3 has received its share of appreciation already.
N Venukumar, is a known-name in the realms of documentary as his documentaries ‘Jeevana kalayude pulluva geetham’, ‘Walking the fire of life’, ‘An ode to alley kids’, ‘Kalabhairava’ ‘Agrahara, a lament’ and so on have garnered many awards including the best documentary award from the state government. Venukumar is also the most sought-after name in the field of documentary as most of the government documentaries are made by him. Though this documentary maker has been ailing from polio from a very young age, it has not affected his spirit even one bit.