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home > Focus on Gujarat  > action  > Volunteers   > Dispatches from Volunteers  > There is a need for 78 filmmakers in Gujarat...right now...

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  • There is a need for 78 filmmakers in Gujarat...right now..........

    Gurpal Singh, June 6, 2002

    Source: Personal E-mail, June 6, 2002

    There is a need for 78 filmmakers in Gujarat...right now..........
    That was only to get your attention. The figure is only an approximation. The true figure could be anything from one to five hundred and fifty four.....does it matter? The fact is there are not enough of us.
    When the reality of Gujarat hits you in the face, the first reaction is numbness and you think first about the futility of filming it at all. When the dust settles somewhat you realise the absolute importance of it.
    The "experiment" of the Parivar has been 99% successful and plans are afoot for other places like UP, Maharashtra, Bengal, Kerala, Goa, Rajasthan.....the list goes on. It is our duty to call the bluff and to spread the message of peaceful co-existence.
    Some of you would be familiar with Stalin of Drishti media collective....he has done tremendous work during the riots filming whatever he could. He is from Amdavad and loves that city dearly. There have also been a few others including ametures who shot important material. Some of it is even provocative and if it goes to the wrong hands it can be used in a very detrimental manner. There is already talk of "riot cd's" making their way to Arab countries... everyone's intentions are not as good as Stalin's!
    The point is that if used correctly, any footage on Gujarat can go a long way in dealing with the problem
     Among the few initiatives in this regard has been ours....that's me along with Neeraj Sahay and others....but mainly Neeraj, so far. The idea was to see if we could be useful with our skills. When we reached there we found that there was an urgent and crying need to:

    1. document the destruction and to
    2. record testimonies....mainly for legal purposes.
    That need is still very much there, even though it has been many many days....the fact is that there have been just too few people covering a problem that is just too vast and continues to be so. The other crying and urgent need is to make films that:
    1. help in understanding the mechanics of the pogrom and
    2. show us the silver lining
    It is absolutely necessary to make films which make the whole process that we can show these to others where it is now going on in the way it was on in the laboratory state as short while ago....these would include films that examine the trend that started 10 years ago...and show how the propaganda was carried on and how people's minds were poisoned so systematically (earlier in a clandestine manner, and later in a more public and blatant manner).

    These films would also prove how the training for such a genocide happened and the economics involved in such an exercise (gas cylinders, petrol tankers, booze swords, trishuls and hundreds of other expenses) the Dalits and Adivasis were won the police was infiltrated, the role of newspapers like Sandesh, Gujarat Samachar and Aar Paar (this one suddenly appeared during the riots)....and all other such aspects which would prove that this was waiting to happen and that the Parivar's claim of it being a spontaneous outburst is but a damned lie.

    These films would be a humble effort in preventing it from happening elsewhere.....they would try and show that fundamentalists in all religions are the same and actually end up helping each other. We also need to portray the rays of hope in these dark and troubled times. Umeed pe duniya qayam hai....we cannot go on without such stories....and fortunately there are quite a few.
    ( There is also a need to address the issue of reach...most of us end up making films for each other....and believe me we are a very very small and insignificant number....we have to change our filmic language as also the methods of showing them. I hope you respond to this with ideas of your own.)
    We started off by thinking that we would try and create a bank of footage which could be shared by everyone....with no authorship or copyright....this could have been our humble contribution. We also tried to (and are still trying) source other people who would be willing to share in such an effort with their footage. Sadly we have been very very partially successful. We have had little or no support from our friends, to whom we kept pleading to join us...but their work and commitments kept them away. This is a desperate appeal to all such friends and friends of friends (and their friends...) to please come there and help in the humungous effort. Neeraj has a systematic plan to use every ones time talent effort and personality in the best possible manner.
    He also has a plan for logging, transferring, post production. All that is required is human resource, equipment, tapes, and emotion.
    You could help first and foremost by coming there. That is really, really the best way right now. If you have a place to stay, great, otherwise we will arrange something for you. It may be modest, but it will be comfortable. We are staying in an abandoned "Muslim" society(with the permission of the flat owner!) we have got matresses and a matka for one neighbour is moving back and has allowed us to use his fridge! There is running water and all such necessities. We have vandalised the flat below was looted and we have manged some furniture to run something like an office. We have borrowed a tv,vcr and computer...we had a mini dv camera but it had to go back...we are using mainly vhs....someone may send us a hi-8
    If you like to stay a little more comfortably even that can be arranged....we have friends who have proper running households....and we may have access to another flat that may be slightly better! Anyhow, once you are here, you should undergo an informal orientation which would help you...this would include a visit to some camps, meeting certain people and one little session with Sanjiv Shah who has a very sharp understanding of the city. We will help you in that. Remember, that you would be there first and foremost in your capacity as a human being. And your first duty would be to help those in need of your help.
    If anyone comes, please do get in touch, for there is an equally crying and urgent need to co-ordinate and to co-operate with each other....with too few people it makes eminent sense to be scientific about it. So mail either me or Neeraj on

    You could also help by sending tapes, new or once used(any format), batteries, chargers, mikes, or anything you would be able to could co ordinate with Neeraj. We also need people for logging and transferring. And we need post production setups for the subsequent work....and we need good minds to start making these films.

    You could also fund those who have the time and inclination but don't have the resources.