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Anshul Sinha’s Mitti: The call of the soil

Anshul Sinha  

Filmmaker and former IT employee Anshul Sinha has always looked at films through the lens of social change. In an exit interview for his IT job (that he quit couple of years ago), his bosses termed him ‘mentally unfit’, when he complained of severe depression due to concern about farmer suicides and the agrarian crisis he had read on a daily basis. Anshul was told ‘why he had to bother about it’ when there are so many similar issues to be tackled too. The filmmaker addressed himself as a citizen first, as he kissed goodbye to his IT career.

Origin story

Until then, Anshul, had been shooting his films in the day while balancing his IT job in night-shifts. In the process he went on to receive about a hundred awards across the globe for his films like Gateway to Heaven apart from his issue-centric projects on poverty and old age homes. The prize money was pumped in for his future projects. In pursuit of his goal, he had dedicated the next two years (after 2015) of his life to make Mitti, a crowd-funded Hindi feature film that discusses 25 major issues surrounding the agrarian crisis, farmer suicides and solutions that could pave the way forward. His work began with a stint at the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad mentored by agricultural scientist G V Ramanjaneyulu.“We wanted to talk about issues that concerned the entire country, our research began from the data we’d gathered from states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab and Maharashtra. I’d witnessed the Kisan Sammelan, learnt about agricultural practices practically.”

Anshul Sinha’s Mitti: The call of the soil

A cut apart from the rest

What distinguishes Mitti from mainstream films is their singular focus on agrarian issues without making it appear simplistic. One of the solutions the 120-minute long film suggests and that helped the village Dorli come out of its financial crunch has been the multi-cropping initiative. Anshul says with a focus on inspiring the common man to give back to his society, they simplified the technical jargon associated with agriculture. “I had hosted acting workshops in the city, hand-picked actors from the Hyderabad theatre fraternity, while setting up the film in Enabavi (known as the country’s first organic village).”

While Mitti‘s journey enriched Anshul as an individual, the path towards its theatrical release was far from smooth. Anshul says they were not given a chance by any leading production house to host a meeting with distributors. “Many said that spectators in the city aren’t concerned about agrarian issues. We were even ready to screen the film to them and had requested them to decide on a release later.” These experiences only have strengthened Anshul’s resolve to take the film to the masses; he has also come up with a unique music video that summarises the film’s intent. Hoping for a release in due course, Mitti is also expected to make a splash at multiple film fests. G V Ramanjaneylu and Anshul will also be collaborating on another film in this series.

Initiating a dialogue

Anshul Sinha’s Mitti: The call of the soil

G V Ramanjaneylu states that the decision to talk about such issues through a film is to communicate without loss of ideas and facts. Having been a TEDx speaker and also a part several television shows including Satyamevajayate, he felt films could do a lot to provoke a noble thought and subtly inspire them. “We had blended a lot from real life stories into one film and discussed several issues, which may not be the case with a documentary. Anshul’s idea of the script analysing the crises in multiple dimensions had impressed me a lot. The film propagates the ‘know your farmer’ initiative and encourages people to buy directly from them and the need to build such avenues. My involvement in the film was to refine the script to get more focus on the issues. I hope it will help initiate a dialogue among public.”


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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 2:59:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/anshul-sinhas-mitti-the-call-of-the-soil/article19709402.ece

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