The food link

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Farhatullah Beig on ‘Mad Cow Sacred Cow’, a documentary

A documentary film, Mad Cow Sacred Cow, shot in Canada and India in the wake of the mad cow crisis is earning laurels at international film festivals. Hyderabad-based Farhatullah Beig, an academician and film-maker, who did the research for the film and worked as the field producer, has won a Golden Sheaf Award for his research work at the Yorkton Film Festival 2009. The film is also selected to be screened at Stuttgart Film Festival in Germany.

“The 53-minute film was made by Anand Ramayya, a Canadian citizen born to Indian parents, soon after the mad cow crisis when questions were being raised about safety of food in many countries,” says Beig. The film begins in the farms of Canada, where Anand Ramayya’s in-laws are perplexed at the aftermaths of the food crisis and even contemplate selling their farm. The film-maker takes up a journey and comes to India to try and analyse and contrast the role the animal plays in the two societies.

“The film analyses how in India, the cow has religious, cultural, sociological, ecological and political importance. We have captured the many facets through footage in and around Hyderabad and Gujarat. The perspectives unfold through a series of interviews of well-known personalities such as Maneka Gandhi, Swami Agnivesh, social scientist Vandana Shah and other history professors. The interviews are interspersed with footage in rural areas depicting the situations discussed by the analysts,” says Beig. If the film mirrors the reality in Goshalas in Hyderabad and the cow protection squads operating in different states, it also shows how cow urine is considered to have medicinal properties and takes viewers to a cow urine filtration plant in Gujarat.

The film was screened for a select audience in the city recently.

Beig has previously researched for many documentaries and is also a film-maker. For Beig, film-making and photography are driving passions while he is also an academician, teaching at English and Foreign Languages University.