Thursday, April 28, 2005

Movies, changing villages, and linked rivers....

I try hard to keep abreast of the latest in Indian cinema, particularly Hindi and Tamil cinema (and the regional cinema of a few select directors). So, as always, I read the latest movie news on Rediff, and came across this page on the costliest Tamil film ever. Nothing remarkable in this of course, except for the fact that a little one liner in the post set off a train of thought in my mind. The one line saying "Noted art director Sabu Cyril has created the sets for Anniyan. He painted 350 houses in Thenkasi for a single song! "

This mostly happened later in the day, when I was telling AR about the upcoming release of the blockbuster. It struck us that many movies have rural themes. This obviously requires villages. Villages in the movies are always unbelievably picturesque, with well built pucca houses, neat roads, nice street lighting (essential for that song in the street), with a perfect central square. Invariably, the filmmakers opt to create such villages by building massive sets. But could not this same money be spent by the same film makers, for the same purpose (shooting the movie), but in a village itself? This would mean instead of creating a set, they could shoot on location in a village, but in order to make the shot "celluloid friendly" they could actually paint and repair the houses of the village, or install some street lights, or repair a road in the village (all of course ostensibly the duties of our governments). One can just imagine the publicity the movie would get. And this would be an effortless solution to improve villages suffering from poverty. I was (for just a brief moment) in awe of my own idea.

But one of the good things about talking to AR is that the serious flaws in the idea usually always come out. For example, would the movie makers only restore one side of the village (the side they need for shooting)? Which side will that be? Who gets to choose? Do the villagers have a say in it? Do they get what they really need, or just something thrust on them? What are the legal issues involved? Will the movie makers end up being high handed (very likely)? The list of flaws in this master plan is more than just endless. Clearly, the film makers erect huge utopian sets for a reason. Many reasons.

That being said, does anyone want to think about the proposal to Link India's rivers, and in one single master-stroke solve all of India's water problems?


Anonymous said...


Interesting blog you have here!

You ended this post with "does anyone want to think about the proposal to link India's rivers"? I just want to point out that many highly qualified (and concerned) people who have done precisely that. Their conclusion is that while some parts of the proposal are okay, the project as a whole is not desirable. It is too expensive, and the kind of environmental and human costs involved are enormous. While the proposal has been in the public domain for a long time, it was not taken seriously because of its serious flaws. However, the current, heightened interest in this concept stems from two sources: the Supreme Court, and our President, Dr. Abdul Kalam.

Let me just give a few links here that discuss some of these problems:

An op-ed in the Hindu (14 December 2004) by Ramaswamy Iyer, former Secretary, Water Resources, Government of India.

Two different reports in India Together.

Keep up the good work, and, ... don't let your advisor see your post on the life of a graduate student!

Sunil said...

Thanks for your comments on my blog.

I left that teaser line in my blog, mostly in an ironical way. A number of people have been shouting that "river linking" is a solution to all of India's problems. But the questions it raises are far more than the solutions it offers (which was the idea of that blog).

I personally am working with a number of people who are very interested researching the pitfalls (which just seem to be rising as we research more) in this grand scheme.