Throughout his life, Edavanakkad resident Safal M. Samad has been a witness to the constant struggle of Vypeen islanders for their right to drinking water, even as the city of Kochi, separated from his home by just three bridges, grew by leaps and bounds.
While the development of the city did not need any promoters, Safal felt the plight of his people should be showcased before the world. For a movie buff, he could not think of any better medium than a documentary.
Thus was born Oru Dweepinte Kadha (The Story of an Isle), a 33-minute-long documentary on the deprival of drinking water to generations of Vypeen islanders. “It was not like we were planning to do a documentary and zeroed in on this particular issue. It was actually the other way round,” said Safal.
While he penned the script and donned the director’s cap, his friends and classmates from the visual communication course in Chennai helmed other departments.
The documentary starts off with a trip through the landmarks of Kochi before cutting to the history of the Vypeen island and the long line of empty pots that have long been its identity. “The idea was to juxtapose the growing stature of the city with a population living right at its doorstep without even drinking water,” said Safal.
Civil rights activists and media persons who were part of many epic struggles give their comments at various points of the narration. Towards the end of the documentary are seen agitated grandmothers recollecting tales of their participation in many protests while fuming over the empty promises thrown at them over the last four decades.
The documentary, dedicated to all people deprived of drinking water, ends with a call to authorities not to turn a deaf ear to people’s pleas.
It was shot at various locations at south Puthuvypeen, Njarakkal, Elamkunnapuzha and Nayarambalam. While Safal wrapped up the actual shooting in 15 days during his month-long vacation, it took almost four months to complete the post production works.
“Of course, convincing the islanders was a bit difficult initially. It was natural as they were fed up of being telling their stories over and over again. But the bigger challenge was to arrange funds for the production. Eventually, I borrowed over Rs.20,000 from my father,” said Safal.
He is now planning to send his maiden work to film festivals. “My work could capture only 50 per cent of the plight of the people. The actual situation is far worse, which we could not portray in its entirety because of various reasons, including heavy rain,” he said.