Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Preview at Maithreya

Manohar Patel is an agriculturalist and a self styled wild life documentary film maker. He is outspoken and direct in his communication. Srikant Kelahatti is soft spoken, persuasive, methodical and a practicing charted accountant. Both are environmental activists, both love theater and are avid film buffs. They run an institution called 'Maithreya Institute for Environmental Studies.' Conservation of grassland ecology around the Tiptur region in Central Karnataka, illegal quarrying that have all but destroyed the nearby villages and the dumping of third rate environmentally harmful industrial technology by the west are some of the day to day issues that they deal with. Thus, both face physical threats from the anti environment lobby that they have pitched themselves against.

In the evenings when they get bored with their day to day existence they call up each other and identify a nearby village – making sure from the electricity board that there is no scheduled power cut in place there. They hop on to a car, with a digital projector, a laptop, portable speakers and a large white cloth in tow, and head to the village. At the village they identify a common spot, fix the white cloth as a screen, connect the laptop, the projector and the speakers and get ready for a show. They throw in a few Dr Rajkumar songs downloaded from youtube in the beginning just to get the audience coming in. And then, when the village gathers, they show Al Gore’s film ‘The Inconvenient Truth’ – they have managed to get a Kannada version of it!

In their initial days, the villagers were skeptical. But these days they always manage a hot debate each time they screen the film – making people realise the importance of conservation and the need to respect nature. After the screening, they are invariably invited to dinner at any one of the houses. By mid night they are back in the town of Tiptur, back to their daily lives. Thus relentlessly and ferociously they have been going on for quite some time now. They now want to start a film club, the preview screening of ‘Putaani Party’ was the first film in their list. It amazed me that they had wanted to screen the film for the Tiptur school kids for six months now!

The newly formed Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy under the guidance of filmmaker Nagabharana recently held a workshop for people who are interested in the film society movement. The idea was to form a series of societies that would screen award wining films in various parts of Karnataka. They would be provided with a projector and the films. Manohar Patel had attended the workshop; but refused to toe the line. Films we will do show – but we wont take your grant; for if we do so we would be singing to your tune and we like our independence. Immediately after the screening Manohar called up Nagabharana and got a promise from him that he would publish a write up about the screening in the magazine that the Kannada Film Academy is come up with.

I am inspired.

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