Man with many issues
By Kasturi Ray
05th August 2012 12:00 AM
A small boy who shoulders the responsibility of leading the way of a visually challenged man stops when he faces a stream of water that seems deep enough. Sensing the hesitation of the child, the blind man lifts the kid on his shoulders and ferries him across. This role reversal formed the spool around which Snehasis Das weaved his documentary We Can Walk Together on the disabled in as less as 60 seconds. It is this venture that fetched the filmmaker his first national level award.
Weaving innumerable stories based on developmental and environmental issues to bring about a positive change, Das has projects lined up in the coming months, some which he has taken up to satiate his creative urge and many commissioned ones, for various government and non-government organisations.
His recently completed projects Gaugunbadi Ahangana-Learning With Dignity, a documentary on introducing vernacular tribal language in early child education among tribal children in Odisha for Netherland based Bernard van leer Foundation, Reaching the Unreached, on health facility in Delhi slums for Smile Foundation and A loud Scream-Women’s Voices for Change, on domestic violence for Oxfam India, New Delhi have already brought about positive changes. Some of these have been screened on Doordarshan.
“I ensure a follow-up to see how positive has been the change. I have always been drawn towards issues disturbing us in our day to day lives. My concern gets voiced and heard through the films I make. And since films make a lot of impact positively, I find it the best medium to express,’’ says Das whose first attempt at documentaries was the 30-minute The lake of Despair (2005), that said the story of shikarawalas of Dal Lake which had been the worst victim of terrorism. The film, which got overseas right by Manan Production Canada, drew a lot of attention after being screened at Jeevika Festival 2007 in New Delhi. “That was a turning point. I saw my anguish on the faces of the audience and there was a lot of reaction too.’’ adds the filmmaker who had to borrow `40,000 to shoot the movie. “I just had `2,000 and no resources too, but friends helped in their own little ways.’’
A student of history and journalism from Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan, Das was always inclined towards working in the field of developmental and environmental communication which is why he spent some of his initial days working with Down to Earth, New Delhi as a volunteer.
“Seeds of the art were sown in my psyche since childhood. My father was in theatre and I was brought up in an environment where discussions on art were a common thing,’’ explained Das whose major projects include Nemesis of Motherhood, a public service broadcasting on maternal mortality in Odisha for Prasar Bharati.
Travelling extensively through the length and breadth of the country, Das has made films on a wide gamut of subjects like on climate change — A Road Back Home, menstrual cycle in Odisha — Wings of Change, Yes we Can and Demystifying Vulnerability — two films on disaster preparedness and disability. His The End Game was a film on Loktak lake conservation in Manipur, while Naya Savera was on reproductive health in Sirohi district of Rajasthan to name a few. Some of his international projects included climate change in Odisha, produced by Television Trust for Environment, UK which was also televised on BBC World.
“Creative satisfaction is very important for filmmakers. Awards do matter but screening at the right forum also makes way for change. One of my films on traditional water harvesting made people sit up and take notice. I found, they started a grain bank and introduced check dam system,’’ asserts Das.
His forthcoming projects include an animated film on water conservation based on the thirsty crow story. Das is also planning a series of films on environmental issues based on songs. Das has a small team that works under the Naked Eye Foundation, the filmmaker’s production unit. Filmmakers like Richad Mohapatra and Nila Madhab Panda have been his inspiration.
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