Baromas, a Hindi feature film that exposes the failure of the state machinery to bail out the crisis-ridden farmers of Vidarbha where two ryots commit suicide on an average every day, is ready for commercial release by the end of this month. The film evoked encouraging response at the Osian's Cinefan Film Festival in New Delhi last month.
The movie directed by Dhiraj Meshram, a Film and Television Institute of India graduate, belongs to Amravati, one of the suicide-prone districts in the region. So Meshram naturally chose the familiar backdrop to dwell on problems like plight of dryland farmers, educated unemployed, political milieu in the countryside, for his maiden celluloid venture.
The movie is based on Sahitya Akademi award winning Marathi novel by Sadanand Deshmukh with the same name. Shot 95% in rural settings of Amravati district, the film features well known actors Seema Biswas, Benjamin Gilani, Subrat Dutta, Jatin Goswammai, Sudhir Pandey and Devika Daftardar playing prominent roles. Cast and crew ensemble mainly consists of FTII and NSD graduates.
"Baromas is an attempt to visit rural India by dealing with larger issues of corruption, unemployment, methods of farming, and farmers' suicides amidst the harsh socio-economic conditions through the story of one family. It portrays a multitude of issues faced by the farmers in an honest and unexaggerated manner," says Meshram, who works as assistant professor at FTII, Pune. Having graduated from there in 2004 he has been working at his alma mater for the last six years.
Over 7,000 farmers have committed suicide because of agrarian crisis in the region since 2001. The movie-makers also interacted with several farm organizations before preparing the script.
"Most of us living in cities have no clue about what is happening in our villages. Baromas is engrossing and entertaining, so that its message would reach a larger cross-section of society – from a farmer to the think tanks of the country," says film’s producer Pallippuram Sajith, a Mumbai-based businessman, who has ventured into film making. Co-produced by Priyanka Sood, the film has songs composed by Ravindra Jain, choreography by Saroj Khan and action by P K Swain.
Meshram took a sabbatical from FTII to complete the film. Except for three-day shoot in Mumbai, rest of the film was shot in Amravati villages like Achalpur, Aashti, Khar Talegaon and Daksh Sahastra. But it looks like people of Vidarbha will have to wait for some time as film distributors who go by commercial norms of glamour quotient and commercial viability are not showing much interest in it.
"It’s a low-budget film and we have spent around Rs. 2.5-crore. The idea is not to make money. We would like people to watch it for its realistic content," say Meshram and Sajith.
"We had premiered the movie on two occasions, at the Osian's Cinefan film festival (August 2012) and the response of the 1000 plus audience at the Siri Fort auditorium in New Delhi was very encouraging. Many feel that a movie like Baromas will help spread the message on the need to accelerate farming sector reforms. In some ways, like "Manthan", a movie produced by the Gujarat milk farmers’ co-operative, this movie could draw the country’s attention to the agrarian trade. We feel that we should try to begin with the stake holders who can identify with the issues and then discuss solutions," says Sajith.
"Unlike documentary films that tend to be preaching and hence monotonous, this movie will keep the audience engrossed with an interesting narrative. While discussing the issues, it also looks at realistic solutions," says Sajith, who is negotiating with owners of multiplexes and small town cinema halls for the release. "We are hopeful for a positive response," he added,
Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday sought a report from Maharashtra government on reported suicides of seven farmers in Vidarbha region in last 72 hours.
According to reports, the commission asked the chief secretary of the state to file the report within next six weeks on the issue.