Arshad Warsi-Naseeruddin Shah film, opening this Friday, brings alarming rise in cancer cases in state to the fore
Arshad Warsi and Naseeruddin Shah
The issue is not exclusive to Punjab," says director Aparnaa Singh, whose upcoming maiden venture, Irada, puts the spotlight on the repercussions of reverse boring and spike in the number of cancer cases in Punjab due to water contamination. The Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi-starrer is the second big banner film, after Abhishek Chaubey's 2016 drugs-drama, Udta Punjab, to unveil the wrongdoings in the Northern state.
While the issue affects the country as a whole, Singh backs her decision to choose Punjab as the backdrop of her film. "The situation is ironical. Yes, this is a pan-India issue but Punjab was the state that kicked off the Green Revolution."
The eco-thriller highlights the manner in which several generations have lost their lives due to the government's apathy. "It is a terrorism of sorts. For many years, contamination of all kind has been kept under wraps. In Punjab, the Green Revolution misfired due to personal greed. Good intentions were lost in the face of corruption, which resulted in the creation of a cancer belt," she informs with concern.
Singh adds, "While in Punjab for a recce, we interacted with doctors and farmers, who highlighted that 1,332 types of hazardous wastes are callously disposed. The rate of cancer in the state is growing, with Bhatinda the worst-hit."
She further informs that the alarming situation is leading to DNA mutations, apart from affecting fetuses. The statistics, Singh asserts, could have been different if the authority had taken adequate measures to address the issue. "They are aware of everything. After Udta Punjab, the drug menace came to the forefront. But no one has addressed the growing cancer rate," she laments.
Quiz her if she is worried about facing the kind of backlash that Udta Punjab did last year, and she responds, "When you attempt a story like this, you need to have the courage to face whatever comes your way. I stand by the subject and hope it kicks off a debate."