A decade ago, director Sourav Sarangi observed an unusual phenomena — a small Indian village called Parashpur, close to the Bangladesh border was vanishing before his eyes into a watery grave.
Caused by erosion from the Ganga, the village was being consumed by the hungry tides. This takes place over time, starting with a mere crack on the ground which widens and the piece of earth disappears into the river with a splash or in silence.
This incident inspired Sarangi to make the Bangla film Char: The No-Man’s Island. It tells the story of Rubel (14) who smuggles rice from India to Bangladesh and has to cross the Ganga, which eroded his home in India when he was just four years old.
Years later, an island named Char was formed within the river where Rubel lives with his family and a group of homeless people. The border police from both countries control the barren expanse.
While Rubel dreams of going to his old school in India, reality forces him to smuggle stuff to Bangladesh. The Root Reel, in association with the Indian Documentary Foundation, will screen the film in Mumbai. The 2012 documentary has won several awards at film festivals in Dubai, Indonesia, China, USA and Istanbul.
Sarangi says that the film depicts more than just a local problem. “The film didn’t have a script; the bigger script was charted by the Ganga. We followed the river. She is the main character in the film. At a micro level, it looks at a man versus man and man versus nature conflict,” he says.
The shoot was a challenge, admits Sarangi: “We were on an island cut off from the mainland minus electricity or proper roads. We had to adapt to it and also gain the confidence of the people.
We needed permissions from Border Security Forces to shoot since there were several checkpoints on the international border. Weather conditions veered from extreme heat in summer to freezing cold, and there were floods too. It was physically and mentally challenging.”
While it released last year, the film took over a decade to make as Sarangi had to film the entire phenomenon of erosion over years of rainfall. Since the making of the film, the region has seen few changes: the BSF forces have been instructed to not shoot at unarmed people and most youngsters from the belt have migrated to Kerala for jobs.
On April 30, 6.30 pm at Theosophy Hall, Alliance Francaise De Bombay, New Marine Lines Call 22035993
Vikalp@Prithvi is screening Eyes On The Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years. The story revolves around the African-American Civil Rights movement from the point of view of the ordinary people whose extraordinary actions launched a movement that changed the fabric of American life.
On April 29, 7 pm
At Prithvi Theatre Auditorium, Juhu.