For the 'In Focus' section of NIFFFI '21, we will be showcasing 4 films by Vinod Raja. His films centre around concerns like conservation values, tribal and nomadic communities and climate challenges. Vinod is an alumni of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) with a specialisation in Motion picture photography (1984-85).
Saloo, the bard and Thirku, the Baiga takes us on a journey through the lives of the many Adivasis communities who live in the mountain tracts and forests of the Eastern Ghats across the states of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand. As in most indigenous homelands the world over, these regions too are rich in natural resources including minerals; resources that have become the source of their greatest insecurities. Through their stories and songs, the film unravels and unfolds both their life visions and their struggles against the merciless mining that is consuming their lands and their lives.
The Bee, the Bear and the Kuruba
The Kurubas are the original inhabitants of the forests of Nagarahole and Kakanakote in the Western Ghats, Southern India. In the early seventies, they were driven out of their ancestral lands deep inside the forest, and forced to live on the roadside or plantations on the periphery. Today, they have nowhere to go, struggle with a way of life they find difficult to adapt to, and have become trespassers in their own land. The film is an attempt to look at the very creation myth of the kurubas. To look at the Adivasi view of the forest as their inseparable home, their world, and their sacred space within which co-existence, mutual interdependency and harmony form their only view of life.
Bird trapper or beggar (Sikkidre shikari, ildidre bhikari)
'The film is a journey that perhaps began decades ago and has been many years in the making. The Hakki Pikkis are a free spirited nomadic tribe who began their wandering many generations ago in the North Western part of the Indian subcontinent. Over time they traveled through and settled in different states of the country. As they moved, they survived through trapping birds and hunting small game in the forests and selling them in cities and towns along with lucky charms and trinkets. If the trap failed, begging was the next best bet! Exiled from the forest, reviled by the city, their traditional ways of life outlawed, the Hakki Pikkis share their stories of wit and survival in this film.
Vanishing Trails - A compilation
Connecting disparate communities, diverse faiths, multiple languages and distanced lands through their uncommon ways of life and livelihoods, the nomadic communities, whatever names they may be known by, have always shared a symbiotic relationship with the more sedentary societies they have survived with for centuries. The processes of colonisation and industrialisation indelibly altered this landscape. Leading us through little glimpses into the ravaged lives of the Raj Nats, the Denotified tribes, the Bahuroopis, The Bhudagajangamas and the Kadak Lakhsmis, 'Vanishing trails' attempts to track their disappearing footprints and question the implications of this loss for our collective futures.