CHENNAI: When the survey for acquiring land for the controversial 277.3 km Chennai-Salem Greenfield Express Highway began in June and protests erupted followed by allegations of police excesses against landowners, a Chennai-based filmmaker Santosh Gopal was quietly shooting the entire land acquisition process on camera. Over 200 hours of recordings throw-up some startling visuals where in one case surveyors plant the yellow ‘marker’ stone on the terrace of a house, close to the wall of a newly-built higher secondary school and in the middle of a large lake.
Gopal, who earlier did a feature film based on Jallikattu student uprising, told Express that he was shocked to witness the manner in which lands were marked for acquisition. In many cases, a battalion of police will arrive first and surveyors with GPS tracking device will come searching for pre-defined path laid by consultant. “I find it crazy, surveyors are behaving like robots who are programmed to do a job. Imagine, the kind of mental agony the family would be undergoing seeing survey stone atop their terrace and knowing fully their house will be demolished for the road,” he said.
Gopal will be producing the film under his banner Sattva productions. The title of the film is “Pasumai Vazhi Saalai” and Kannada actor G Kishore Kumar, Tamil actors Pasupathi, Shreya Reddy and Malayalam actor Remya Nambeesan will play the lead roles. “We are hopeful of roping in Prakash Raj and Telugu actor Nagarjuna for guest appearances,” he said.
According to the movie, at Kombur in Dharmapuri district, a newly-constructed government higher secondary school under the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan with NABARD funds will be demolished. At Harur, another school, which is functioning, could be reduced to rubble.Valarmathi of Kombur said, “We fought for the school for four years and finally when it is realised, government is building a road demolishing it. Varalakshmi Starch Industries, owned by a relative of a politician is saved. Why can’t they adopt the same yardstick for the school,” she questioned during an interview for the film.
To give a real feel, several farmers, who are losing their lands for the project, will play crucial roles in the movie. Gopal said the visuals were shot travelling in police vehicles, tractors and at times on a two-wheeler to cover the maximum distance. Another aspect that will be highlighted in the film is the eight-lane road running parallel to existing road at more than one location. The trailer of the film had already been released and the movie is planned for launch in January.While Project Director PT Mohan said he is not authorised to speak to media, Regional Officer of NHAI Pawan Kumar was not available for comments.