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Doon Library showcases MOTI BAGH, a documentary on migration plight in Uttarakhand villages



DEHRADUN, 30 June: MOTI BAGH, an hour-long documentary film and India’s entry to the Oscars in 2019, was screened at the Doon Library & Research Centre on Thursday, July 29th to a riveted audience.

The film examines the impact of migration on the farming community in Uttarakhand. For over five decades, the protagonist, Vidyadutt Sharma, an octogenarian farmer, who is also the uncle of the film maker has nurtured Moti Bagh with his 5 acres of farmland in Sanguda, a small Himalayan village near Pauri. Moti Bagh is now surrounded by 7000 ghost villages – a chilling testimony to large scale migration by locals in search of employment in places like Dehradun, Hardwar or even in the plains of Delhi. Chronicling the changing landscape in verses of resistance, Vidyadutt Sharma and Ram Singh, a farmhand, who came from Nepal, ploughs the fields and keeps it alive. At times Vidyadutt Sharma’s radish yield surpassed international yield. He even won awards growing humungous radish weighing 22.85 Kilos. The protagonist even remarks there cannot be any competition between physical labour and Intellectual labour. They are unique in their own places.

Award winning filmmaker Nirmal Chander Dandriyal was born in Chennai and grew up in different parts of India as his father was in the Indian Air Force. So much later in life he formed a connection with his home state, and that is when he started visiting his uncle. Listening to his poetry, he tried to understand the problems that beset people in the mountains. He says even though his uncle is the inspiration and the central character, the film is not simply a portrait of him. It is essentially about connecting with the land and being one with nature. He also sees the film as a wake-up call for the state in respect to agricultural reforms and incentives provided so that many choose to return to their villages.

This film has received several awards at international film festivals and garnered a lot of critical acclaim. It has been telecast on BBC. Thus, this film has travelled far and wide. It has attracted the lay audiences to topics that are seen as dry and difficult. Migration has been highlighted as the biggest issue in the film. But so are the environment, water crisis, food, security, animal menace, social structures and many more. The film touches the sensitive chord of the lay audience pertaining to the society in general and it sends out a message to the environmentalists that filmmakers are walking alongside them to form a unified voice to protect the environment.

Dandriyal says, he has several ideas for films out of Uttarakhand but the most exciting one is a film on Narendra Singh Negi, the iconic poet, singer and composer, a son of the soil. He says Negiji’s music has been an integral part of his growing up years and so if he is able to make this documentary, alongside doing service to his homeland, it will be a pride of the state.

Unfortunately, he says it is difficult locating funds in the state because there isn’t so much appreciation yet for the documentary form or awareness about its impact. So, the director is earnestly looking out for co-producers who will come forward and fund the project. If this happens then the documentary will take the banner of the state to greater heights.

Nayantara Sahgal, Gita Sahgal, Retired IAS couple Vibha Puri Das, SK Das, Prof BK Joshi, Nicholas Hoffman, Dr Aloka Niyogi, Anita Roy were present amongst others. Shashwati Talukdar was the moderator of the event.