A documentary titled A Drop of Life, which stars Nandita Das in a major role, was shot in 2001 by director Shalini Kantayya but never saw the light of day. However, now the film which is based on water privatisation, will be aired on national television for the first time this Saturday.
“I’m glad the film is being revived, because issues like these don’t get outdated,” says Nandita. “The distribution of water is so unequal. My locality has a 24-hour water supply, but my maid, who lives in the slum next door, gets only two hours. They often have to go out and buy water.”
In the film, Nandita plays Mira, a social worker in Kutch. When she sees several kids around her falling prey to waterborne diseases, she becomes a mediator of sorts between the villagers and an MNC to privatise the water supply.
“It’s a powerful story that’s relevant even now, years after we shot the film. And it’s going to be relevant in the future too. We need to realise the enormity of the problem and how our kids will suffer if we aren’t careful now, and hopefully that will be an incentive for everyone to make small changes in their lives,” says Nandita.
For the actor, these changes include cutting down on water used to bathe, brush your teeth or even flush the toilet. “I don’t think our lives will change dramatically if we use a little less water. So much money goes into transporting it, and so much energy is used to bring it from the source. If we don’t draw a line somewhere, it’s going to become scarcer than oil,” she says.
Ironically, Nandita’s first-ever film was also a 90-second public service announcement ad on rainwater harvesting. “It was aired across channels and even went to many festivals,” she recalls. “I’ve been engaged with several issues — one more than the other — but that doesn’t mean the importance of each of them varies.”