Development for some is loss of livelihood for others: Filmmaker


New Delhi : What goes by the name of development for some may be a loss of livelihood for others, filmmaker Paranjoy Guha Thakurta says.

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Speaking at the screening of his documentary film series "Hot as Hell: A Profile of Dhanbad" at the Indian Habitat Centre Thursday evening, Thakurta said that this problem was evident in the Dhanbad coal-belt of Jharkhand where the resources were so great and yet the residents were economically backward.

"The idea for the movie originated 25 years back when I was a reporter in Kolkata. What struck me was that this part of India, especially Dhanbad, was so rich in resources and yet the people were economically backward, " he said.

"I wanted to explain to the people, to the best of my ability, the reasons behind this problem."

The five part documentary series examines why fires, both real and metaphorical, continue to burn in Jharia – one of India's oldest coal mining areas.

While the land beneath the residents is burning in reality as it yields coal, the mafia exploiting the underprivileged by mining illegally and running extortion rackets ensures that the heat is put on the residents by their fellowmen as well. Added to this is the likelihood of confrontation between low-caste Dalits and economically backward tribals and the upper-caste non-locals.

The people living in the region were hopeful in 1971 when coal-mining operations were nationalised. But the conditions of the residents still did not improve significantly.

"Mafia does not consider itself to be a mafia. The members of the mafia see themselves as trade union leaders etc," Thakurta said.

He believes that the problem depicted by the documentary, which he shot in over a month, is not local in nature. "I am trying to tell a story that is local but has international parallels. Similar things may be happening in other nations."

Shooting the documentary also had its own perils. "We consciously chose not to identify certain people as they would have been in danger," Thakurta said.

"A problem that I faced while making the documentary was of convincing myself, and people who worked with me, that the subject was worth making a documentary on."

The documentary was made and now Thakurta wants to show it to as big an audience as possible.

"The project is not yet complete. I want to make Hindi and Bangla versions of the documentary," he said.