19th October, 2021 -
17th January, 2017
Three short documentaries from the archives of the Films Division of India, followed by a recent FDI production from Manipur.
The films will be introduced by Peter Sutoris, currently a Gates Scholar at University of Cambridge and author of Visions of Development: Films Division of India and the Imagination of Progress, 1948-1975 – the first scholarly book on the history of Indian documentary. He will be joined after the screening by Debanjali Biswas (PhD researcher, KCL) for a discussion and audience Q&A.
Benefits of Bhakra Nangal (1955, 11mins, English, dir. K. L. Khandpur, produced by Mohan Bhavnani)
A classic didactic film on the construction of the monumental Bhakra dam in Punjab, famously christened by Nehru as a ‘new temple of modern India’. As the PM speaks, his iconic message disperses: a man riding a camel listens to a portable radio, folk dancers sing paeans to progress.
Man in Search of Man (1974, 20mins, English, dir. Prem Vaidya)
On an expedition to find the vanishing tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Gulf of Bengal, a metropolitan Indian film crew confronts its ‘primitive’ subjects.
A Man-Made River (1975, 10mins, English & Punjabi, dir. D. Gautaman)
Sikh engineers irrigate the deserts of Rajasthan, home of the mythic Saraswati river. Gautaman’s lush cinematic montage fuses tropes of indigeneity and futurity, in an expressive homage to technological transfer and the scientific gaze.
Phum Shang / Floating Life (2014, 52mins, Manipuri, dir. Haobam Paban Kumar)
Loktak, the largest freshwater lake in Northeast India, is characterized by its unique floating phumdi (biomass). Living in huts built on these phumdi, the local fishing community relies on the lake for its livelihood. Loktak also serves as a source for hydropower generation, irrigation and drinking water supply. In 2011, in a drive to clean the lake, the Manipur government burned down hundreds of huts. This award-winning documentary follows state agencies and local conservationists struggling to save a dying lake, as well as residents fighting against ‘The Machine’ – their name for the huge hydraulic excavator used by officials for eviction.