Indian Global Cinema and the People’s History

Is contemporary Indian cinema doing the job of recording the people’s history of our times?

Like all storytellers are wont to do, I will start with a story. A little over 10 years ago, troubled at not being able to fully comprehend the Adivasi–Naxalite–mining–development conflict situation through mere research, I undertook a journey to north Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha. That was also the time when the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) was being implemented enthusiastically across rural India. We came across many roads being constructed under this scheme in the Adivasi areas where there had been none. And, often, it was the Adivasis displaced from their own lands who were employed as daily wage labourers to build the very roads they were displaced for.

The government claimed they were ensuring employment under this scheme so that those displaced could get a basic minimum wage to be able to buy the food and essentials they needed every day. Imagine an Adivasi on their own land, growing their own food, filling their own water from the river, weaving their own clothes, needing to buy nothing to survive. Now imagine that same Adivasi without their land, living far away from it in tin-sheet shanties, having to now buy food and clothing, and sometimes even water.

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Updated On : 15th Jun, 2020

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