The inaugural screening of Chalti Tasveerein was held in India Habitat Centre, New Delhi on 14 February 2018 with the screening of a fiction film “TURUP” by Ektara Collective. The opening was well received as we witnessed a full house in the hall. After the film there was a discussion with Kuldeep, one of the actors of the film.
“TURUP” is a film made in a collective process along with people from within the community, the film is a delightful portrayal of how society, politics and media affect our daily lives. The many interesting characters in the film push the viewer to recognize the truth in this fictional masterpiece.
Day 2 – 4 : Chalti Tasveerein, the traveling film festival started off its first journey from New Delhi to Nandurbar, Maharashtra where it participated in the annual function of Jeevanshala ‘Bal Mela’ the schools run by Narmada Bachao Andolan.
We screened a documentary ‘Zoo‘ and a music video ‘Gaon Chhodab Nahi‘ to the students, which was very well received.
We had another round of screenings for the students at the Bal Mela, where we screened four films for them ‘A Chairy Tale‘ by Norman McLaren, ‘Ek Anek aur Ekta‘ by Bhimsen from the film’s division, ‘Printed Rainbow‘ by Gitanjali Rao and an excerpt of ‘Paani Pe Lekha‘ by Sanjay Kak. While the animated films garnered unrestrained applause from the children it was even more rewarding to see a new generation of students watch the early days of their resistance on a big screen. There were around 700 children and 1000 people in total.
Team Chalti Tasveerien concluded their first two-days film screening in Nandurbar, Maharashtra and will be traveling to Gujarat. The two-days film screening and various activities with the children was an amazing experience filled with caring, sharing and lots of learning to the team. We are now packed for Gujarat.
Day 5 : It was a day dedicated to with all possibilities. With more than a little help from the Samast Bharuch Jilla Machhimar Samaj we managed to pull off a screening in the middle of a galli/street. A dedicated usher to keep away the goats and a generous resident who dropped a pocha/mop on a street lamp to control the lighting; all came together to create a unique screening experience for a sizable and enthusiastic audience. The theme of possibilities wasn’t limited to the logistics of the screening alone as today added to the long list of events organised by the newly formed movement group. One which is gradually but effectively unifying the fishermen of Bharuch to assert their rights over a river which is being exploited by industries.
Day 6 – 7 : We held a screening at the Panchayat Hall at Baleshwar Village near Surat. We screened a documentary ‘Supermen of Malegaon‘ by Faiza Ahmed Khan and a fiction film ‘Modern Times‘ by Charlie Chaplin, along with a few videos. With the closest movie hall being 10 km away the screening allowed us to collectively address a range of questions around cinema! Sorry for the unclear photos. We can’t blame the hosts for organising a screening in absolute darkness!
Day 8 : The Fishworkers group Machhimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS) organised the screening for us at the Randhbandar coast of Kutch, Gujarat where we screened the films ‘Ek Anek Ekta‘ by Bhimsen, ‘A Delicate Weave‘, ‘A Chairy Tale‘, ‘The Chorus‘ by Abbas Kiarostami and the theme song of the World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP) 7th General Assembly which was held in New Delhi.
The audience comprised primarily of people from the fishing community and the children were particularly eloquent during the discussion. Watching a film with the sound of the waves in the background exposed us to the ethos of human nature coexistence; one that has been practiced by the fish working community for centuries.
Day 9 : While the initial screening at Ahmedabad was cancelled earlier and rescheduled for 22 February 2018, where we did the screening in a basti in Ahmedabad near the Chand Saiyaad, Dargah.
We did the screenings of films ‘Humaare Ghar‘ by Kislay Gonzalvez, ‘Bhagat Singh Tu Zinda Hai‘ (music video) by Sheetal Sathe and excerpts from ‘Mera Apna Sheher‘ by Sameera Jain for an audience comprising primarily of women and children.
The women are primarily occupied in manual labor and domestic work. After the screening, there was a vibrant discussion on the position of women in public spaces and the engagement with upward social mobility in ‘Humaare Ghar‘.
This screening marked the end of the Gujarat chapter of ‘Chalti Tasveerein’. We have been humbled by the hospitality of the people of Gujarat and inspired by their resilience for change. The love for food among the Gujaratis is much talked about; they say ‘Surat Nu Jaman Ane Kashi Nu Maran’ (Eat in Surat and die in Kashi for a soulful life). What isn’t mentioned often enough is their appetite for chewing on alternative cinema and digesting thought-provoking documentaries. We hope our effort will play a small role in developing a discourse around cinema which will bring joy and harmony to everyone in Gujarat. With our bellies full and our projector packed we now head to Rajasthan!
Day 10 : We started our Rajasthan journey at the Kotra village of Udaipur! The screening was held at the Adivasi Milan Mela, hosted by the Adivasi Vikas Manch, Kotra.
Due to the Mela, we got the opportunity to screen films for our largest audience till then and they thoroughly enjoyed all the films. With over a thousand people engaging with a wide range of films based on resistance we couldn’t have asked for a better start to the Rajasthan chapter of Chalti Tasveerein.
We screened ‘Dada Jaag Re‘ (music video) by Media Collective, ‘Marching with the Bhim Army‘ by The Quint, ‘Love Your Neighbor‘ by Norman McLaren along with excerpts from ‘RTI‘ by Jharna Jhaveri & Anurag Singh and ‘Bharat Ke Nirmata‘ by Shubham.
Day 11 : We were graciously hosted by the Prerna Public School today and it was a real delight to be with students. We screened documentaries ‘Supermen of Malegaon‘ by Faiza Ahmed Khan, ‘Glas‘ and a fiction film ‘Children of Heaven‘ (Abbas Kirostami). It was interesting to see that the students were particularly forthcoming in the discussions. The room echoed with laughter as they watched ‘Supermen of Malegaon‘ which was the clear favorite! We hope this is the beginning of a long-standing association with cinema for them!
After the screening at Prerna School, Chalti Tasveerein was given a space at Fateh Sagar Lake, Udaipur by 94.3 My FM and Seedling School which had organised a ‘Dil Ki Deewar’ event where citizens were encouraged to donate things for people from marginalized spaces. We screened the films ‘Love Your Neighbor‘, ‘A Chairy Tale‘, ‘Hum Ladenge‘ and ‘Kodaikanal Won’t‘ a music video by Sophia Ashraf, in the open space for people visiting the lake.
It was nice to see such a big crowd gathering in front of the screen and appreciating the films. There were many people who expressed their interests in the festival and the children were particularly supportive. It was nice to see that films have the power to draw people even when they aren’t looking for them. It was inspiring to see that some students of Prerna school who had come with their parents to attend the evening screening!
Day 12 : From Udaipur, we moved towards Rajyawas village in Rajsamand where we did the screenings for a group of women and children. We screened the animation ‘Ek Anek Ekta‘ by Bhimsain and a documentary ‘Maati Ki Maan‘ by Nishida Sahir. A couple of little girls who were amused to see the projection on the wall came and asked us about the projector and how we managed to show a movie without a TV or a screen!
This screening was organised by National Foundation for Social Development- School of Democracy, MKSS and Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) and coordinated by Rinku who is the Convenor of Udaipur Film Society.
The second screening of the day was at the Thana village in Rajasthan, where we screened ‘Bhagat Singh tu Zinda Hain‘ (music video), ‘Love Your Neighbor‘ and ‘Modern Times‘. The residents of this warm and welcoming village stayed up way past their bedtimes to enjoy the films. They laughed and cheered as they watched the films and soon the crowd was big enough to block the street in front of the screening. Even when a couple of jeeps tried to cross over, they didn’t let them and asked the drivers to take another route.
Day 13 : We had yet another double screening today and both were really successful. We kick-started the day with Bhim Boys Senior Secondary School at Bhinmal in Jalore district of Rajasthan. Contrary to its name is a coed school. We played ‘The Chorus‘ and ‘Supermen of Malegaon‘ and both the films were big hits with the students. Even the teachers were engrossed in the films and had many nice things to say after the screening.
In the evening we headed to the Jawaja village where we screened ‘Jadui Macchi‘, ‘The Red Balloon‘ and ‘Chairy Tale‘ for a very excited bunch of children and some of their mothers. The response was so positive that there were immediate talks about regular screenings in the library run by the Rajasthan Asangathit Mazdoor Union.
Both the screenings were facilitated by the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan and we are very grateful to them for helping us put the screenings together. Apart from managing the logistics the presence of our local coordinators has helped us understand our audience and reflect upon the way people across geographical and social locations engage with different forms of cinema.
Day 14 : We found ourselves in the company of some very enthusiastic lady scholars at the Sophia College, Ajmer. We screened ‘TURUP‘ and a vibrant discussion on gender, caste and conflict and the potential the medium holds to bring change. This was followed by a screening of ‘Kodaikanal Won’t‘ (music video) which initiated discussions on the medium.
The students and teachers were extremely supportive of the initiative and have decided to establish a film club on campus in collaboration with School of Democracy. The fact that two students decided to join us for the remaining journey in Rajasthan and their Principal decided to give them attendance for it bears testimony to the success of the screening.
The screening was organised by School of Democracy and MKSS.
The second screening of the day was at Nallu village where we screened films for the youngsters attending a three day workshop organised by the Rajasthan Mazdoor Kisan Morcha. We started with ‘Fan Baba Saheb Di‘ (music video) and ‘Marching with Bhim Army (Quint) which was followed by a discussion on how caste operates across the subcontinent and how the marginalized communities have begun asserting themselves through visual media.
After this we played ‘Echoes from the Past’ (documentary) which sparked a vibrant discussion on the ‘Behrupia’ community and the importance of documentary films. This was the first documentary experience for many young people in the audience and they really enjoyed it! Some of the elders shared tales from the past of the ‘Behrupiya’ of their village.
As we head towards our final destination (Jaipur) in Rajasthan, we can’t help be inspired and motivated by the variety of people who are joining our growing community of people who love cinema and the charcha around it!
Day 15 : We were warmly welcomed at the DP Tiwari Medical & Educational Institute and Sneh Public School in Jaipur, Rajasthan. Most of our audience was comprised of school children along with a handful of nursing students.
We screened the documentary film ‘Glas‘, a fiction film ‘Love Your Neighbors‘, the theme song of WFFP GA7 and an animation film ‘Printed Rainbow‘. The screening was interesting because we had some students expressing their boredom during the screening of ‘Glas‘. They mentioned that they were bored because the film had ‘no dialogues’. As a response we played ‘Love Your Neighbors‘, which they thoroughly enjoyed. Towards the end, ‘Printed Rainbow’ was played and it was well received.
Since it was the day of Holi celebration, most of the students left as soon as ‘Printed Rainbow’ ended and we had one nursing student who came and asked us why we didn’t talk about the film which was such an important film on reality and fantasy!
We hope we were able to inspire some young minds to look at films differently and engage with the idea of ‘boredom’ itself. It was such a pleasure to be among young minds who didn’t hesitate to speak their minds and were willing to think about what they were consuming.
Our final screening for the Rajasthan phase was facilitated by the Rajasthan Mahila Kaamgar Union at the Khatipura Basti in Jaipur. We screened the documentaries ‘Humaare Ghar‘ and excerpts from ‘Bharat Ke Nirmata‘ and both the films sparked a string of conversations.
The audience which was comprised almost entirely of women domestic workers were quick to identify the nuances in ‘Humaare Ghar‘ and related it to their daily struggles. They also gave the team an insight into the work the union was doing and how it has helped them assert their positions and claim their rights. The conversation could’ve continued all night long if the women didn’t have to leave for work. The screening was a befitting end to our Rajasthan leg.
Rajasthan has been extremely kind to us and the success of the festival here would not have been possible without the able support of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan and the School For Democracy. Their understanding of the communities bears testimony to the fantastic work they are doing.
We were also very pleased to have a variety of locations in our pool of screenings. Whether it was the Fateh Sagar lake or the Sophia College auditorium we managed to generate a great deal of interest in the unlikeliest of spaces. What was also very heartening was the interest the people showed in the medium. With institutions establishing film clubs and individuals deciding to shoot their own films, the Rajasthan leg of ‘Chalti Tasveerein’ was all about reclaiming the ‘Pardah’. We also managed to receive chanda from all places from Rs.1 to Rs.500 which would take care of our travel and food expenses in the coming days.
We hope that a land which has been a preferred location for filmmakers from around the globe will soon grow into a state which produces, consumes and engages with films on its own.
We are extremely thankful to all the friends, supporters, well-wishers and the movement groups who have hosted us and have been helpful in making this film festival possible at different places. We are also grateful to all the volunteers who have joined us at various phases of our journey in the last 15 days.
Day 16 : Team ‘Chalti Tasveerein’ reached Indore on March 1st. From here the team will head towards Badwani in Madhya Pradesh. This was supposed to be a break day for us but a string of coincidences gave us the opportunity to hold a short orientation for the teachers at the Indore Public School, Eastern Campus. We spoke to them about the potential of the medium and told them about our experiences with screenings in schools. The teachers were very interested and we hope they will take this forward!
Day 17 : March 02, 2018, this was our second break day of the journey and the team used it to wash their clothes and catch up on their sleep. At night we set up the projector and watched ‘Mr India‘ with our friends at the Narmada Bachao Andolan’s office in Badwani, Madhya Pradesh. We watched this timeless film with a fresh perspective and it became a ‘Chalti Tasveerein’ tribute to Sridevi. The informal screening gave us time to reflect on our experiences and reminded us why we are doing what we’re doing.
Day 18 : The team planned to utilize the morning slot of the second day at Badwani district in Madhya Pradesh to know more about the Narmada Bachao Andolan’s work. We visited Rajghat and Chikalda village which are on the bank of Narmada river. At present Narmada river is running dry and people expressed how the government makes them suffer in the name of development by favouring a group of individuals. We interacted with the locals and met, Sano Bhabi, from Chikalda who has been a part of the struggle for the last 32 years. She shared “how oppressed people from all parts of the country are linked together through these social movements. What makes this andolan special for us is to see how it has brought people together from different castes and religions in the area, and also gave local women the confidence to assert their rights”.
In the evening we organised a screening at the Hawalda village. Our first Madhya Pradesh screening saw a huge attendance. We screened ‘Paani Pe Lekha‘, ‘A Chairy Tale‘, ‘When Women Unite‘ and some music videos. People loved the films and commented on how the films reflected their daily lives and struggles. What stood out however was a very interesting interpretation of ‘A Chairy Tale‘ who likened the chair to a government position and how an official should handle his or her responsibilities ethically. With such an enthusiastic set of viewers for our first screening we are very optimistic about Chalti Tasveerein’ Madhya Pradesh leg.
We were delighted to have 9 volunteers from Delhi University comprising 8 students and one faculty. They have been helping us with documentation, publicity and of course providing entertainment!
Day 19 : Today we started off at the Kadmal village in Dhar district where we had a screening inside a garage and a lot of people from the village came inspite of it being the height of the festive season. We screened ‘Pani Pe Lekha‘ on demand of the senior leaders of the community. Many elders from the village got to relive the early days of the struggle and many young children got to witness the peak moment of the Andolan. The crowd was extremely responsive and we got to learn a lot from them and their experiences.
Our Second screening of the day was at the Century Yarn/Denim Satyagrah Aandolan at Satrati, Khargon district, Madhya Pradesh
In our journey so far, we have screened films in quite a few unusual spaces. In the middle of a street and by the sea, inside a garage and on someone’s balcony. On this evening however we found ourselves in an atmosphere that has been unparalleled so far. We were fortunate to have been given the opportunity to screen a film at the gates of the Century Yarn/ Denim Satyagrah, where the workers have been on a strike for the last 4 months now. They are the victims of a major corporate fraud which has snatched their rights. We screened ‘Hum Ladenge Saathi‘, ‘Daada Jaagre‘ (music video) and ‘Modern Times‘ for them which people enjoyed a lot and interpreted in many ways. Someone also mentioned that the film brought relief to them after four months of struggle. Our experience of the space had a deep impression on us and we hope we spread information about the struggle and extend solidarity to their struggle.
Day 20 : Today we did the screening at the Pichodi Village in Badwani district where people are engaged in farming and fishing. This dam affected region has a spirited set of people who enjoyed the film ‘Jadui Macchi‘. The people told us that they related to the film on multiple levels and were happy to be introduced to an alternative cinema which represented many of their concerns. It is always nice for us when people talk amongst themselves during the film screening and after the films and we were fortunate to witness some of that ‘Charcha’ in this village.
Day 21 : Today we had two screenings, one at the Chhola Road, Orriya Basti in Bhopal. The screening at Chhola road was facilitated by Abdul bhai from ‘Insani Biradri’. We screened ‘Love your Neighbors‘ and set of music videos by Majma. We screened one episode of Jan Gan Man Ki Baat on ‘Fallout of Demonetisation’. The video generated a lot of discussion on the credibility of the mainstream media. The screenings were followed by the discussions over tea that ranged from governance to conflicts in the houses.
Our second screening was at Soniya Colony, Aeshbagh. Mostly comprising of young adults, this screening was facilitated by Ektara Collective, that primarily does skill training among youth. Nidhi and Deepak helped us put a screening together. After a couple of music videos we screened excerpts of ‘Mera Apna Sheher‘ that sparked a fascinating debate on women’s access to public spaces. It was very inspiring to see a group of young women speaking out against the gender issues in public spaces. While there were many ideas and opinions in the hall, everyone unanimously agreed that a film can facilitate an intense discussion!
The Ektara Collective and Muskaan coordinated both the screenings along with the partnering organisations. We are very grateful to our friends for their enthusiastic support and belief in this initiative.
Day 22 : Our final screening at Madhya Pradesh happened at the Rajiv Nagar Basti in Bhopal where the people are from a Denotified tribe which faces regular harassment from the Police and the public at large. Many people from within the community are working towards building a better future for themselves. We screened ‘Ek Anek Ekta‘ and ‘Supermen of Malegaon‘ before were interrupted by a brief spell of rain. The conversation that followed however was easily one of the best we’ve had so far. The young people from the community showed us some of the funny videos they had made on apps and we talked about how videos can be used as a tool to further the cause of social justice. A boy studying in class fourth talked about how rich people make films on slums for their gain and how they must make their own films. Such was the enthusiasm that the people decided to initiate regular screenings of films. The first has been scheduled for the 10th of March.
The Muskaan Foundation which works with these groups helped us put this screening together and we are very grateful to their team.
With this we came to the end of our Madhya Pradesh phase. The people of MP have been extremely patient and interested in our initiative and have engaged with it with a lot of insight and understanding. The people here have a way of making outsiders feel at home. Whether it was Indore, Badwani or Bhopal the people at the venues made sure that we felt included and not out of place. People sitting in the audience would come forward to help with tying the ‘Pardah’ and in some cases would raise slogans to keep the spirits alive. ‘You’re only an outsider here if you think you are one and sparking a conversation here is as simple as chewing on poha.’ All this and more make this the perfect space for an alternative cinema and charcha!
Day 23 : International Women’s Day, 8 March
From Madhya Pradesh we travelled to Uttar Pradesh and our first screening was at Paltan Chawni Shelter Home. Our friends at the Vigyaan Foundation helped us to organise a screening of ‘Bharat ke Nirmata‘ for women who are mostly engaged in domestic work. The response was phenomenal and a lot of woken articulated some very poignant thoughts and experiences on womanhood and patriarchy. Some of them sang songs and recited poetry. This was a great start to UP ‘aur hum muskuraye ki hum Lucknow mein hai’!
Our second screening for International Women’s Day was held in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh where we screened ‘Love your Neighbors‘, ‘Echoes From The Past’ and ‘A Chairy Tale‘. The audience was almost entirely comprised of Women and Children. Some little girls were extremely forthcoming when it came to the discussions and it was a treat to be among them. Some stayed back till we finished packing our equipment and we had the chance to talk to them about their communities and learn more about the city!
Day 24 : Our second screening at Faizabad was held at the Industrial Training Institute where the Principal of the institute inaugurated the screening by lighting candle and welcoming the yatra. Most of our audience comprised of young college students. We screened ‘A Chairy Tale‘, ‘When Women Unite‘ and ‘Ek Red Color Ki Love Story‘ along with some music videos. The students responded passionately and there was noticeable enthusiasm to consume different kinds of films. Ek Red Colour ki Love Story led to some interesting response by women on stalking and harassment.
The students were very interested in the idea of collective film viewing and even fixed dates for screenings to be held later. Facilitated by Awadh People’s Forum and a bunch of young enthusiasts, we are certain that similar screenings will be held over the next couple of months in this space.
Day 25 : We are in Mau, and today our first screening was at the Harishchand Delari Inter College where we screened ‘Gaon Chodab Nahi‘, ‘Love your Neighbours‘, ‘A Chairy Tale‘ and ‘The Chorus‘. Each film was followed by an interesting discussion with the students and the girls were particularly outspoken. The local coordinator and teachers suggested screening ‘Gaon Chodab Nahi‘ twice and it was a delight to hear the students putting forward their thoughts and drawing connections with their village and society. They expressed their joy in seeing sights that were familiar and constituted their everyday on screen. What intrigued us further was how the students were well informed about the current political scenario and articulated their concerns confidently.
From Harishchand Delari Inter College we reached Sacred Heart School, Mau. The screening was attended by high school students and the administrative staff. We screened ‘Gaon Chodab Nahi and ‘I am 20‘. While ‘Gaon Chhodab Nahi‘ pushed the children to check their privilege and acknowledge the importance of the rights of Adivasi people ‘I am 20‘ allowed them to engage with varying perspectives on development and the problems that have plagued modern India. The children were particularly interested in contributing towards the chanda collection and donated portions from their pocket money.
After screening in two schools at Mau, we headed towards Devkali Vishunpur village, Mau. We screened ‘Dada Jaag Re‘, ‘Marching with Bhim Army‘, ‘A Chairy Tale‘ and ‘When Women Unite‘. Considering that the village comprised mostly of Dalits the villagers were particularly keen on the struggle of Chandrasekhar Azad and Bhim Army. It was heartening to see that as the screening of ‘ When Women Unite‘ progressed more and more women joined in. The day was wrapped up with a lovely hot meal which was provided by the residents of the village. The villagers seemed very interested and influenced by the films and we hope they take their engagement with both cinema and resistance forward!
All the screenings at Mau were facilitated by Mr. Arvind Murty. We are very grateful to him for bringing the energy and enthusiasm post-screenings.
Day 26 – 29 : Our final stop for the UP destination was at Allahabad where the Stree Mukti Sangathan, Pakistan India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) and Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) helped us organise a screening at Swaraj Vidya Peet. We could sense the interest of the audience right from the point we began introducing our initiative. We began with ‘Daada Jaag Re‘ after which a student from Allahabad university told us that he was from Jharkhand and he was very happy to see people from his state asserting themselves in the video. We followed this up with ‘Turup‘ which had people cheering at various points. The audience were stuck to their seats and they broke into cheers at many points in the during the film. The crowd which was a mix of young and old had a lot to say to after the screening. They were also planning to have follow up screenings to bring back the culture of collective cinema viewing. We were thrilled to have a great screening before we go into a short break. We will resume our journey from Delhi.
Day 30 : It is good to be back in Delhi and after a short break we are all set to take forward the travelling film festival. Our screening for today was planned and suggested by some of the Delhi University students and we were thrilled to take Chalti Tasveerein to them. The screening started with playing many music videos since the sundown was taking time and the outdoor wall projection needs darkness. The Chalti Tasveerein team was officially welcomed by Gandhi Ashram Women’s Hostel Warden Rosamma ma’am and wished the team the best of luck. The screening of Bina Paul’s ‘The Sound of Silence‘ was attended mostly by Malayali women hostelers of Delhi University and a few others from JNU and Jamia.
The discussion post screening slipped into Malayalam and mostly debated questions of security, freedom, consent and the need for strong gender neutral policies in institutional spaces and effective redressal mechanisms. The organisers Ima, Kavya and Abhirami wrapped up the screening and along with a few others headed for the Narmada valley to complete the survey work they had started during their visit to the valley with Chalti Tasveerein. It is a matter of joy that through this film initiative volunteers are being initiated into social movements.
Day 31 : Our second screening was hosted by the Delhi Young Artists Forum (DYAF) at their Khanpur centre, Delhi where saw a mixed crowd of women and children of all age groups. We started the screening with a couple of music videos and then screened ‘The Chorus‘, ‘Chairy Tale‘ and ‘Love your neighbour‘. The three films initiated some discussion on borders, friendship, compassion and how having a hearing aid can be helpful when one wants to take a break from the world’s chaos! Considering that DYAF does regular screenings at the centre, we screened ‘The Arrival‘ next.
The discussion that followed touched upon issues of migration, child labour, commodification, life in the city and living in the bastis. Questions on the impact of using silent films vis-a-vis films with Hindi dialogue was raised which further brought forward issues of access and familiarity with the different genres of films.
Day 32 : Saharanpur, After our earlier Uttar Pradesh screenings we were left with Western Uttar Pradesh which we continued after the Delhi chapter. We reached Saharanpur on 17 March, 2018 and conducted our first screening at Brownwood Public School. The screening was attended by students as well as teaching and non-teaching staff of the school.
We screened ‘Kodaikanal Wont‘ which generated a discussion around the potential music videos hold in preventing the onslaught on resources by multi national companies. Following the discussion we screened ‘Dada Jaag Re‘ to highlight how protest music videos take different forms. This was followed by a conversation about how videos like these do not get the required circulation.
Later we screened ‘I am 20‘ and ‘Under the Shade of Fallen Chinar‘. The first film made people reflect on the role of the government in promoting a critical culture among people through films and how this role has changed significantly over the years. People were of the opinion that a disagreement against the government can lead them into trouble and they would end up being branded as ‘anti-nationals’ easily. The second film presented a different narrative of the reality of Kashmir which is missing from the mainstream media. One woman from the audience shared her story about how her interaction with Kashmiri students at college changed her perspective on Kashmir.
Throughout the screening the role and the importance of the travelling film festival was emphasized upon by the local coordinator and the team and the response of the audience was very encouraging. The students, teachers and management all expressed a desire to continue the practice of watching meaningful cinema and possibly using it as a teaching aid.
Our second screening was at Khata Khedi, Saharanpur. We started with ‘Hum Ladenge Saathi‘ and an episode of ‘Jan Gan Man Ki Baat‘ on demonetisation. The people mentioned that they have read about the Panama Papers and related issues in the newspapers but have never seen it getting coverage on television.
The second film we screened was ‘Love Your Neighbours‘ led to a good discussion. It initiated a discussion on what the ‘flower’ meant for each person in the film. For some people, the flower represented political parties who divide people and one person expressed that the flower is Kashmir, over which two countries are fighting for their vested interests. Our third film ‘Marching with Bhim Army‘ made by the Quint evoked a guarded response, it was indeed good to provoke a serious discussion for the coming days in the area.
This was our last UP screening and we were hosted by different people who are working towards promoting communal harmony in the State. We hope that our initiative has added the values of co-existence and brotherhood further. The screenings were facilitated by All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP) at Saharanpur.
Day 33 : The team arrived at Tehra Tongiya, Uttrakhand in the early morning where the screenings are being coordinated by All India Union for Forest Working People.
We conducted the screening at Tehra Tongiya village with the Sikh Banjara community. We screened ‘Fan Baba Sahib Di‘ and ‘Ek Anek Ekta‘. Due to the power cut the screening had to be stopped for a few minutes. To keep everyone engaged the kids started singing rhymes! Then, we screened ‘Maati ki Maan‘ which is about the Arippa land struggle in Kerala and very similar to the land struggle in the area.
Post-screening, the people gave the background of their struggle and they talked about the Rajaji National Park which was approved as a tiger reserve in 2015 and is threatening their lives. Taking quotes from the film, one man shared that land is an asset and in no condition should anyone sell it.
The second screening was scheduled at Haripur Tongiya, where we screened a few music videos as people assembled. Men, women and children of all age groups gathered for the screening. We screened ‘Dada Jaag Re‘ and it initiated a discussion about their movement. Drawing connections from Jharkhand the people discussed the need to unite and fight against the forces who are hellbent on oppressing people. A young woman expressed her gratefulness to the elders who had initiated the struggle and formed its backbone, many of these were present during the screening. We screened a few scenes from ‘Bharat Ke Nirmata‘ and Comrade Munilal spoke to the people about the women who are a part of the resistance. Later we screened ‘Zoo‘ and a ‘Chairy Tale‘ for the kids in the audience which they throughly enjoyed.
Our first day in Uttarakhand was very thought provoking and inspiring. The stories of the resistance in this picturesque state are bound to stay with us forever and we hope CT will prove to be a valuable initiative for the people here.
Day 34 : Our journey has taken us to locations which have been uncharted territories for cinema so far. Perhaps it is no coincidence that these places are some of the most beautiful places we have visited. One such place was the screening at Kanaou forest village. Home to Kashmiri Gujjars who are all engaged in dairy farming, the screening was held in an abandoned godown in their village with a connection from a tiny tea shop on the highway, the only structure with electricity. We screened ‘Ek Anek Ekta‘, ‘A Chairy Tale‘, ‘The Chorus‘ and ‘Gaon Chhodab Nahi’ in the woods for an audience comprised of children, ladies and the men who hadn’t yet taken the cattle for grazing. We heard their interpretations of the films and were extremely influenced by their hospitality and wisdom. While the community is living fulfilling lives within the forest it was nice to see that they were interested in the visual medium. Particularly so because they acknowledged that it was an important tool for having their voice heard when the government attempt to displace them.
Our second screening of the day was at Chandi plantation, Doiwala, Haridwar. It’s a multi diverse community where people from Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh had settled during 1930s for plantation purpose in the area. We screened ‘Dada Jaag Re‘, ‘Fan Baba Sahib Di‘ and ‘Hum Ladenge Sathi‘. After screening we initiated a discussion on the varied themes that these three music videos present. People spoke about the different social movements going in the country and recognized their significance also. The youth were interested to know how they can use the visual medium for their own ongoing struggle. Then, we screened ‘Zoo‘, an episode on demonetisation by The Wire and the ‘First Cry‘. The film and the news video generated a discussion on man-animal interaction, role of alternate media and responsibility of community groups/unions.
Day 35 : Today we are at Jhambakri Barcha, Pathri Bagh, Haridwar. Our screening was supposed to happen with people who have been rehabilitated due to Tehri Dam. The place has no electricity and we waited for almost an hour and then distributed the booklet and some of the films available on YouTube. The kids assured to stream or download and organise screenings for their friends. The organisers from Matujan Sanghatan also assured to hold a screening at a later point.
The time we spent in Uttarakhand gave us the opportunity to listen to the stories of people who are resisting the powerful authorities to claim their land and resources. ‘Like dogs they enter and become tigers..’ from Dada Jaag Re song holds true here.
Day 36 – 37 : Paonta Sahib, Himachal Pradesh
The first screening at Himachal was organised by Gyan Vigyan Samiti at the Panchayat Hall and was attended by the staff workers of the Panchayat and some local farmers and teachers. We screened ‘Bhagat Singh Tu Zinda Hai‘, ‘Fan Baba Sahib Di‘ and ‘Bant Singh Can Still Sing‘. The audience asserted that while caste discrimination is not prevalent in their village, the film really inspired them. After this, we screened parts of ‘First Cry‘ and ‘When Women Unite‘. Alcoholism is becoming menace in the area and women shared about their interventions to stop this problem. At the end we screened an episode from ‘Jan Gan Man Ki Baat‘ on demonetisation and education. This generated a lot of discussion on the education system among teachers. The teachers were of the opinion that the budget cut had a great impact on the quality of education in the country.
Similarly, the current education practices prevalent in public schools has resulted in teachers exploitation which in turn has harmed the student community. We witnessed great camaraderie and a willingness to engage at our first day at Himachal Pradesh and look forward to the rest of our yatra.
Our second screening was at Nahan, Sirmour at Himachal Pradesh, hosted by All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) and Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS), the audience comprised of children, men, women and elders. The screening started with Com. Santosh Kapoor, AIDWA State President welcoming the team. We screened ‘Bhagat Singh Tu Zinda Hai‘ and ‘Ek Anek Ekta‘. The animated music video immediately brought a smile on their faces and contemporarily importance of diversity in this country, we screened few parts of ‘Bharat Ke Nir-mata‘ related to this theme. After this we screened ‘Bloody Women‘ which is about the prevailing menstrual taboos in Himachal Pradesh. It initiated an hour long discussion among both men and women on age old discriminatory practices. One young girl asserted that she has come to realise the extent of discrimination in the name of purity and has resolved to not let the taboos affect her mobility anymore and the audience broke into applause. The discussion further led to the caste system and how different forms of discrimination operate at all levels.
Both sets of audiences at Paonta Sahib as well as Nahan were very receptive and spoke their minds.
Day 38 : The legacy of revolutionaries, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev inspire us even today. On this Shaheed Diwas (23 March), we witnessed an audience who are victims of corporate injustice. The audience comprised of men who work on a road construction site for Chaddha and Chaddha Gas and Coal Construction Ltd. Since November, 2017 the work on the construction site has not been taken forward even though thirty percent of the work is incomplete. In February, 41 workers were terminated without prior notice when they joined the union and the company plans to repeat the same with others who are fighting for their dignity. We screened ‘Bhagat Singh Tu Zinda Hai‘, ‘Modern Times‘, an episode of ‘Jan Gan Man ki Baat’ on ‘Modi’s Pakoda Employment Scheme’ by The Wire and ‘Gaon Chodab Nahi’. The people were really engaged and the fellows from The Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla who had joined us shared Bhagat Singh’s idea of freedom and equality with everyone which still remains a distant dream in this country.
We, the team Chalti Tasveerein along with the fellows from IIAS extend our solidarity to their struggle.
Day 39 : Our first screening at Mandi was organised by Dr. Om Prakash from Bharath Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS). In this picturesque village we screened ‘Dada Jaag Re’, ‘Love Your Neighbour‘, ‘Bloody Women‘ and ‘Fan Baba Sahib Di‘. The people loved the films and could connect easily with the film ‘Bloody Women’ which is based on menstrual taboos in Himachal Pradesh. Young women of this village expressed that they no longer follow certain age old practices. One elderly woman also shared that the discriminatory practice of social exclusion is linked to the economic status of a family. A family which shares a one bedroom house is in no position to exclude their womenfolk. Dr. Om Prakash shared the details of menstrual taboos practiced in Karnataka and how one panchayat decided to construct a ‘rest house’ outside the village for menstruating women instead of sensitizing the community about the taboo. This lead to a more nuanced discussion on ostracisation and ways to deal with the discriminatory practices surrounding menstruation.
Our second screening had only young women in the audience who are pursuing a Diploma in elementary education. We screened ‘Fan Baba Sahib Di‘, ‘Nirnay‘ and a song by Sheetal Sathe. The film generated a lot of discussion around the participation of women in key decision making processes in their lives. The students talked about patriarchy and societal norms which perpetuates biases. Dr. Om Prakash emphasized on the importance of teachers in society and how integral it is to motivate students to raise question on prescribed norms around them. He also added that it was important for progressive women to build communities that become support systems when dealing with oppression. Most of the women bought the Chalti Tasveerein booklet and said they would watch the films in the list and write to us about it.
Day 40 : Rakkar, Dharamshala, Our first screening of the day was organized by Jagori Rural Charitable Trust. The audience comprised of aanganvadi workers who were at Jagori Centre for training workshop on women’s health. We screened ‘Gaon Chodab Nahi‘ and ‘Bloody Women‘. The facilitator of the workshop initiated the discussion on menstrual taboo’s in Himachal Pradesh. The film was in a way extension of the training programme which they were undergoing at training centre. The women talked about the restrictions that are placed on them during periods and added that it was a means to sustain the patriarchal system. The director of the film, Priyanka Ishwari, spoke about the shame that is associated with this natural process and the role religion plays in practicing it. She also added about her inspiration to make the film on this important issue in Himachal Pradesh.
Our second screening was at Neevia Hotel, Dharmshala which was organized by Jagori Rural Charitable Trust with women Anganwadi workers who were attending a workshop on domestic violence and laws related to it. We screened ‘Dada Jaag Re‘, an episode on demonetisation by The Wire, ‘Bloody Women‘ and a song by Sheetal Sathe. The films led to discussion on alternate media and the current mainstream media practices. The women acknowledged that the social exclusion during periods is practiced in some parts of Himachal Pradesh. Some shared their personal encounters in places where it is practiced. The more than one and a half hour discussion led to the warmhearted discussion on caste, food practices, religion and the diversity of this country.
The last screening at Himachal was also held at the Jagori Center. The audience for this one was significantly bigger than the one in the morning that comprised of mostly farmers who were attending a workshop on farming and women leadership. As we set up the projector the ladies started singing and dancing and it was a treat to be a part of this spontaneous celebration. Once the projector was set up and everyone settled down we played ‘Ek Anek Ekta‘, ‘A Chairy Tale‘, ‘Love your Neighbors‘ and excerpts from ‘India Untouched‘. Each of the films sparked nuanced discussions on personal relations, conflict and power structures. The discussions were full of personal anecdotes and reflections. It was also heartening to see that there was a healthy dose of disagreement and debate within the audience. The thoughtful exchange of opinions led many people to reform their opinions as the discussion progressed. It was also very exciting to see the ladies pushing themselves to explore multiple interpretations of ‘A Chairy Tale‘ and ‘Love your Neighbors‘. ‘India Untouched‘ allowed the women to reflect on how caste operates in their daily lives and one of the ladies remarked that even though inter caste marriages are gradually being accepted nobody actively looks for partners outside their caste. One of the resource persons Alka brought in newer angles such as Babri Masjid and Kashmir issues and the way media and those in power manipulate the people into making these issues of contestation.
Supported by HGVS, AIPSN, AIKS, AIDWA and Jagori, we had a wide range of audience, but it needs to be pointed out that Himachal had the maximum of women audience in the course of Chalti Tasveerien.
We have had some very enthusiastic and participatory discussions at our screenings. We have witnessed some very insightful conversations and are hopeful that the medium will prove to be an effective tool in furthering dialogue in this state. We are very touched by the warmth of the people from this cold hilly state and are looking forward to working with the people here soon.
Day 41 : Punjab University, Chandigarh
Our first and the only screening at Chandigarh was hosted by Chandigarh Cinephiles, a group of young film enthusiasts who screen films in the city.
Organised by Department of Political Science, Punjab University, the students from other departments and colleges attended the screening. We screened ‘Dada Jaag Re‘, ‘18 Feet‘ , ‘In the Shade of Fallen Chinar‘ and a song from ‘Gadi Loghardaga Mail‘. The song received an ovation from the students and teachers. The films initiated discussion on identity and resistance. Both the films depict how music has been used by people to embrace their identity and as a source of liberation. The people mentioned that using music or arts to fight against the oppression is a ‘safe mode’ to resist, unlike picking up arms. The film ‘In the Shade of Fallen Chinar‘ generated a discussion on Kashmiri Pandits and their lost identity.
We hope to have a long term engagement with Chandigarh Cinephiles in the future to coordinate film screenings and discussions around the audio-visual medium.
Day 42 – 45 : After a 41 days of continuous travel, the last screening of the Chalti Tasveerein phase-1 was scheduled at the 4th General Assembly of New Trade Union Initiative at Nashik from 1-3 April, 2018. The comrades representing different trade unions/movement groups across the country and the worldwide were part of this general assembly. NTUI aims to build one trade union federation in the country and engages with working class at different levels. On the second day of General Assembly after dinner we started off the screening with the songs of Sheetal sathe, Bhagat Singh Tu zinda Hain, TM Krishna’s ‘Poramboku Padal’, Deepak Das’s ‘Dada Jaag Re’ and finally a Malayalam song from Dynamic Action. After these screenings the Canadian short film, ‘Love Your Neighbor‘ was screened and an attempt was made towards a discussion. Later we screened ‘Bharat Ke Nirmata‘ and ended the program with Gini Mahi’s ‘Fan Baba Sahib Di‘ song for which the comrades started dancing to.
On the last day, the organizers of the NTUI mentioned that many trade union groups from Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have expressed the desire to conduct the film screenings at their place. We are grateful to the organizers who arranged a slot for us to screen films amidst the busy schedule and we were really inspired by the NTUI’s motto-Unity, Democracy and Militancy.