Filmmaker Sushma Veerappa has seen the city spill over into Yelahanka, but still loves the area for its pockets of quiet
Sushma Veerappa moved north eight years ago, just when construction on the city’s airport was beginning. So the documentary filmmaker has witnessed what she calls the “dramatic” changes in the area, courtesy of the Bengaluru International Airport. “I came into Yelahanka New Town along with the airport,” she says.
For her, the changes are a reminder that Yelahanka is no longer as cut off from the rest of the city, that the city and its chaos is crawling into the northern suburb.
The contrast is especially sharp because the area retains a pristine feeling, she says: the large swathes of space that are the GKVK Campus and the Jakkur Airfield still give her the feeling that Yelahanka is cut off from the city. “The nodal points where the city meets Yelahanka — those are chaotic,” Sushma says.
Nevertheless, off the main road, the inner roads still retain their quiet, and she’s thankful for that: things like the familiar figures of a local cobbler sitting under a banyan tree, a small ice cream shop. These are what she calls slices of “old Bangalore”, which reminds her of her own upbringing in the Malleshwaram-Rajajinagar area. “Yelahanka seems to align itself more with old Bangalore. It’s not the IT community that has come to live here, but typically army folk, and in that way it’s closer to the old city.”
But Sushma isn’t blind to the upsides of the city rushing in to Yelahanka, either. “The most exciting part is being able to get to Mekhri Circle!” she enthuses, referring to the improved bus services that came in after the establishment of the airport.
This is one part of the good planning seen in the area. “There is some degree of thinking going into the planning,” she says, pointing out the example of a parking spot near the bus stop as another unique, well-thought-out feature.
Fondness for the area notwithstanding, her recent film set in Bangalore, When Shankar Nag Comes Asking, isn’t set in Yelahanka but in Basaveshwaranagar. Described as an “album of today’s Bangalore”, the film was screened in the city in November as part of Project Cinema City. It tells the story of the changing city through the eyes of the city’s auto drivers, and especially through their lasting connection to the actor Shankar Nag in the form of auto stands named after him.
Sushma studied at the Sophia Polytechnic in Mumbai and worked with director M.S. Sathyu before becoming an independent documentary filmmaker.
Her other films have included Bringing Home Rain, a chronicle of the village Kurubarakunte’s tryst with rainwater harvesting, and a set of films for the non-profit trust ASHA. She is currently working on distributing the film, and hasn’t set her sights on a next project yet.
For now, her farm, and not the city, beckons.