FRIDAY REVIEW

Of clashes and classes

SAVITHA GAUTAM

This week three Indian filmmakers showcase their creativity on NDTV Documentary 24x7.



Making documentaries is an art form that is yet to be fully tapped in India. There is no dearth of talent and there are subjects aplenty. But what the filmmakers lack is a platform to showcase their art, save a few festivals. It is here that NDTV’s Documentary 24x7 tries to make a difference. This week, three films focus on two metros and an event that attracts the attention of political parties.

The Delhi University Students Union Election 2005 is the subject of Nitin.K’s documentary simply titled ‘Black Pamphlets.’ Though elections have been banned at most universities, DU is an exception. Various student unions criss-cross the city for 12 days before D-day campaigning for their favourite candidate, using as many as 150 cars (some say the figure is actually 500!), 10 tempos and four buses. The campus is a beehive of activity as student leaders make lofty speeches. Representatives of various political parties make themselves heard as they back a particular candidate. Yes, money power is an important aspect. So is caste. “It’s Gujjars vs. Jats” says a student. But history plays no part here. Ask them who Bhagat Singh was and many of them are clueless. But for most students, these elections “are simply a waste of time. Once the guy wins, he throws a DJ party and a rain party, there’s plenty of food and drink. And that’s the end of it.” The film, seen through Nitin’s eye, tries to understand the mindset of the student community and how money and muscle power work even here. To be telelcast on November 26, 9.30 p.m.

Short takes

In Paromita Vohra’s ‘Cosmopolis: A Tale of Two Cities,’ two different faces of Mumbai are presented to the viewer. Here’s a city where diversity co-exists, though not peacefully at all times… the undercurrents are too strong at times. The difference is not just about culture or language. It is about food too. Yes, the veg-non-veg issue acquires giant proportions here. In an ‘exclusive vegetarian’ building, one non-veg resident faces stiff opposition. But she is stubborn. “Why should I change my food habits for them?” This leads to a bigger battle for control… between Goddess Annapurna and Goddess Lakshmi (played by Renuka Shanane). This film looks at how in a city which seemingly absorbs everyone and everything, divisions of class, language and food do exist. Is Mumbai truly a great cosmopolitan city? That’s the question Vohra asks. To be telecast on November 27, 9.30 p.m.

Urban tale

In the opening shot, a self portrait of artist Frida Kahlo catches your attention even as an acapella chorus played in the background adds to the tempo. Then you read a letter being typed where a woman expresses her woes after her home was knocked down at short notice.

‘New (Improved) Delhi: A Director’s Cut’, a short by Vani Subramanian, juxtaposes the superhighways and snazzy malls of Delhi with the slums and its dwellers. Slums are demolished to ‘improve’ Delhi. But are the slum dwellers relocated? A survey reports that during 2001-2002, 15,000 jhuggies were razed to ground to make way for high rises. But its poor dwellers were left homeless. And even if they did find a home, they did not enjoy basic benefits such as electricity and water. This short takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the flip side of urban development. To be telecast on November 27, 10.00 p.m.



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