As a special tribute to English author George Orwell, a documentary film seeks to spread awareness about the importance of cherishing the legacy of his birthplace.

Mr. Orwell was born on in the lake town of Motihari in Bihar’s East Champaran district. For many years this part of his life was not known to the local residents until renowned British journalist Ian Jack discovered the birthplace in 1983.

The short film titled ‘Orwell..! ...but why?’ is “the first ever documentary made on the writer’s birthplace,” said director Bishwajeet Mookherjee, also a freelance journalist based in Delhi.

“The film – a social awareness project – seeks to address three main issues: the ignorance about the place, the ignorance about Mr. Orwell himself and why we need to promote his birthplace,” Mr. Mookherjee told The Hindu.

A group of local citizens from the Rotary Club have been campaigning with the State government for building a memorial in the place. For a brief period the issue took a controversial turn with local politicians opposing the idea on the ground that Mr. Orwell’s birthplace was a symbol of British imperialism. In a rival bid, they proposed a Satyagraha Park in the next plot.

“People asked, ‘why should we promote an ‘angrez’ [Englishman] in a place like ‘Motihari’ which is known for its contribution to the Indian freedom struggle?’ When I started my research on the film last November, I went through Mr. Orwell’s biography as well as his writings. In his book ‘Burmese Days’, there are first reflections of his anti-imperialist position. In fact, I learnt that he was one of the chief guests at a celebration held in London on August 15, 1947. He loved India, but why has India forgotten him?” Mr. Mookherjee said.

The documentary will be released at MS College in Motihari on January 21, Mr. Orwell’s death anniversary.

The 23 minute six second video will also be uploaded on YouTube.

“Every year, we celebrate his anniversary with floral tributes, but Motihari remains unaware about him. The documentary will help us reach a wider audience,” Mr. Mookherjee said.


>>The “Documentary on ‘1984’ author George Orwell” (Jan. 19, 2014) gave the name of the journalist who discovered Orwell’s birthplace in 1983 as Ian Jan. It should have been Ian Jack.