Archive for May, 2010

Certificate course in City Narratives

May 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Majlis Bombay announces a Certificate Course on City Narratives in Cinema and Literature

Dates: 9th July to 12th October 2010

For details, please visit:

Hurry! Last date to apply 7th June 2010

Organised by Majlis, Maxmuller Bhavan Mumbai and SNDT Women’s University


Filmmaker P. Baburaj traces his cinematic journey with recently deceased activist and filmmaker C. Saratchandran

May 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Source : Time Out Delhi ISSUE 3 Friday, April 30, 2010

P Baburaj remembers C Saratchandran, the filmmaker and activist who died in a freak accident in April.

The personal, professional and political were all so tightly woven together in the documentary filmmaker Chandrasekharan Saratchandran that it was impossible to separate one from the other. Saratchandran died in a freak accident on April 1 – he fell off a moving passenger train while returning to his Ernakulam home from a wedding. The 52-year-old director and environmental activist was a well-known name, especially in Kerala, where he participated in several popular movements against the government and corporations, made many documentaries, and tirelessly promoted world cinema and documentaries by organising screenings. Documentary filmmakers in several cities are planning tributes to Saratchandran. In Delhi, Kriti Club and the Delhi Film Archive will organise screenings of two of his films at the India Habitat Centre.

Before becoming a filmmaker in the 1980s, Saratchandran assisted leading Malayali offbeat filmmakers like John Abraham and G Aravindan. He made four films with P Baburaj, including the acclaimed Chaliyar…The Final Struggle, and The Bitter Drink. Baburaj tells Time Out about the influences on Saratchandran’s work, and his contribution to the state’s film and political cultures.

“Saratchandran, KP Sasi and I were all born in 1952. My father, C Unniraja was one of the first Communists in Kerala. Sasi’s grandfather MP Manmadhan, is one of the great Gandhians of the state and his father Chandrasekharan Nair is one of the leading Hindi scholars of Kerala. Sasi’s father is K Damodaran. So activism runs in our blood, but we all chose a different path – neither Marx nor Gandhi.

Sarat had always sought an alternative to the mainstream, whether it was in films or art or developmental issues. I met him around 1983 while he was working on a feature film. It was a culturally and politically active period in Kerala. There were alternative poets and magazines, John Abraham [a Malayali filmmaker] was active. Sarat and I later assisted Sasi on Living in Fear, about the hazards of radiation caused by the company Indian Rare Earths in Kerala. We became close friends and associates.

Both of us were a part of emerging non-party political movements linked to human rights and the environment in the ’80s. Sarat had a video camera which he was using to document meetings and campaigns. The VHS camera had mostly been used to shoot weddings, but Sarat made three documentaries with it. One was Save Western Ghats March – The Kerala Experience. Then a film about a campaign against a hydroelectric dam, called No Two Big Dams. Then Before Everything Heads, about several developmental issues in Kerala.

In between, Sarat went to work as an educational consultant at the British Council office in Riyadh. His idea was to save money for equipment. He returned in 1998 with a digital camera. I was working with Sasi in Delhi at the time. Sarat and I decided to document alternative initiatives in Kerala. An agitation against industrial pollution in Mavoor was going on, so we went there and shot a film, which later became Chaliyar… The Final Struggle.

Before we actually started working together, we decided that we wouldn’t make weepy documentaries, but instead focus on showing collective action. As concerned citizens, we were also involved with these struggles. So the films followed our social involvement. The Chaliyar film won us the certificate of merit at the Mumbai International Festival of Films in 2000, which established us as a filmmaking duo of reasonable repute.

No two people could be any more different. Our concept of cinema is as different as our physique – I’m much taller than he was. Our films developed through intense arguments. We would shoot and argue, edit and argue. The strength of the four films we made together, apart from the issues we took up, was the constant arguments.

Sarat was working on several projects when he died. He was shooting for Sasi’s documentary on Kandhamal. We had finished about 70 per cent of a sequel to the Chaliyar film. We were also working on two more documentaries, and he was making a documentary on his own. I plan to complete all the films.

Sarat was also the founder of Nottam, a touring festival of documentaries. Earlier, he used to show world cinema classics from his collection all over the place, to film societies, schools and reading rooms. Then Sasi suggested that he start showing documentaries too. Sarat dubbed Anand Patwardhan’s Ram Ke Naam into Malayalam and showed it in Kerala. He showed the films of people like Amar Kanwar and Sanjay Kak. A friend of ours called C Venkateshwaran wrote an article in The Hindu calling Sarat a ‘conduit of images of resistance from all over the world’.

He had gone from Ernakulam to Thrissur to attend the wedding of a close friend. The train he took to return was very crowded, and he seems to have fallen off onto the tracks. I got a call from his wife at 2.15 in the morning. For days, I was haunted by the image of him falling from the train.”

As told to Nandini Ramnath

Retrospective of Saratchandran’s films

May 5, 2010 1 comment

We invite you for

A man with a 1000 dreams: Remembering C Saratchandran
(A retrospective of Sartchandran’s films.)

Venue: Centre for Film and Drama,Millers road , Bangalore
Date: 8th May, Saturday
Time: 4.30pm – 8.30 pm

C. Saratchandran (1958 – 2010)

A civil rights activist and a documentary film maker, C Saratchandran has been an inspiration and a great support for all individuals and organizations that screened issue-based documentaries across the country. He has reached out to many, both through the medium of films and with his most democratic personal politics.

Throughout his life, Sarat has shown us the significant role a film maker plays in social change and how powerful a camera can be as an agent of such change. Untiringly he had screened documentaries throughout the length and breadth of Kerala about several socio- political issues.

Educated at M.G College Thiruvananthapuram and Dharmadam, Saratchandran was part of a movement against emergency. He learnt film making from John Abraham and G Aravindan. He started documenting social struggles in ’80s and was often involved in the struggles he set out to document.

We invite you to be a part of this programme in solidarity and remembrance of an environmentalist, activist and film maker who has a body of work that will live on forever. The screening of the following films made by Saratchandran as a part of an evening of remembrance and dedication to the life of Sarat.


Time: 4.30 pm – 5 pm
Chaliyar… The final struggle (1999)
Dir: P. Baburaj & C. Saratchandran
35 mins/ English

A river, her people and a factory that gobbles all precious natural resources and pollutes the land lives, form the principal characters of this video film.

Special Mention, MIFF 2000
The Bronze Tree Award, Vatavaran 2002

Time: 5 pm – 6 pm
Thousand Days and a Dream (2006)
Dir: P. Baburaj & C. Saratchandran
77 mins/ English

On the four and a half years old anti-Coca Cola struggle in Plachimada, Kerala. Perhaps, no other agitation in recent times in Kerala has attracted national and global attention like this one. The film captures the spirit of the struggle, traces the history and discusses the several issues raised by the struggle. It also documents the poignant moments of the struggle and shares the dreams and sorrows of some of the active participants of the struggle.

10th Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) Indian Jury Award Winner.

Time: 6pm- 6.15 pm

Tea break

Time: 6.15 – 6.45 pm

Remembering Saratchandran – friends of Sarat sharing their memories
Time: 6.45 – 8.30 pm

Your’s Truly John (2008)
Dir: C. Saratchandran
100 mins / English subtitles

A video essay on the many faceted life of John Abraham, the film maker. Over 50 of his friends and close associates speak about him and discuss his films and creative life. This documentary brings us closer to the person who lived the life on the edge, through reminiscence of those who were close to him

Organised By
Vikalp Bengaluru, Pedestrian Pictures, Maraa, Bangalore film society, Grass root media, PUCL(K),PDF, Alternative Law Forum , SICHREM, Vimochana, Samvada, Environment support group, Samanatha Mahila Vedike, Karnataka Janapara Vedike, Sthree Jagruthi,

For further details Contact Deepu- 9448367627, Sushama Veerappa- 9845766808 ,Johnson Rajkumar -9886126064

In memory of C. Saratchandran!

May 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Remembering documentary film maker & civil rights activist C. Saratchandran by screening his following films : organised by the Delhi Film Archive & Kriti Film Club

Venue: Habitat World, India Habitat Centre ( IHC ), Lodhi Road, New Delhi-110003
Date: 7th May 2010Time: 7:00 pm
Entry: Free

The Bitter Drink

English (subtitled), 26 min, 2003, India

The people of Plachimada, Kerala take on the Coca-Cola corporation in a David an Goliath battle.

To Die For Land – The Ultimate Sacrifice

English (subtitled), 29 min, 2003, India

The film captures the adivasi land struggle in Chengara, Kerala. Located in Patnamthitta district, Chengara is witness to the occupation by 20000 adivasis of over 2000 acres of land belonging to Harrison Malayalam Company Ltd. For the adivasis who took over this commercial tea plantation land, the occupation is a defiant way to highlight their situation. Over the years, plantation companies with the active support of the government have ensured that the adivasis are now alienated from land that they once called their homes.

To order copies of the film, The Bitter Drink, write to us at:

For other films by C. Saratchandran, log on to: Films by C. Saratchandran

The Keynote Address at Persistence Resistance 2010

May 1, 2010 Leave a comment

We bring to you the keynote address delivered by the well known columnist and author,  Ms. Sevanti Ninan, at the inaugural ceremony of  Persistence Resistance 2010: A festival of contemporary films.

Creating spaces;

It may seem odd to you as it does to me that a media watch website should be asked to deliver the keynote for a festival of documentary films. But I guess what is common between the emergence of The Hoot some nine years ago, and the emergence of the Persistence Resistance festival in 2008 is the notion of creating a space. Space for something that may not have a commercial logic, and which neither the media industry nor the film industry may make room for in the normal course of things. But something that civil society nevertheless needs to institutionalize for its own sake.

In the media in India in the last two decades we have seen both the opening and closing of spaces. We have discovered that you can have enormous growth, unhindered by the state, and yet lose the diversity you had earlier. There is possibly more sameness now in television entertainment than there was when Doordarshan was the only channel. And also that many more TV channels do not necessarily mean more room for programme experimentation. The channels may be there, but their definition of entertainment may rule out documentary films altogether, even as film channels on television multiply.

I discovered only very recently that the media industry uses the term real estate to denote the space available on channels for programmes. If you have two 24 hr Hindi entertainment channels you have twice the real estate of a TV company that has only one. Why is it real estate? Because it is an electronic space whose commercial potential can be maximized by the kind of programming you do on it. And that is where your highly paid TV channel creative heads come in.

Yet civil society media initiatives if you can call them that, have also blossomed over the same two decades that real estate on TV has grown by many multiples in many languages.

The public service broadcasting trust was created here in Delhi and even if it has had to contend with the vagaries of Doordarshan’s telecast schedules it was a body that could commission film makers to make the kind of films they wanted to. Its next step was to have a festival to show those films. And in recent years many small film festivals have come into existence all creating space for showing films that may not get censor certificates or be able to get commercial releases. Persistence Resistance is one of them. Even more than the film festival the civil society initiative that the Magic Lantern Foundation has taken in becoming a distributor for documentary film makers is part of the process of creating space for what commercial media might not find saleable. It is a space made possible largely by donor funding.

The Internet has created valuable space for film makers too on YouTube and on the site called Witness which hosts videos on human rights violations.

A whole new level of media space is also emerging with the very fledgling community radio movement. It is highly regulated today—the process fraught with needing clearances from many ministries, but for the men and women who live within the radius of these stations a whole new space for expression is opening up and the day will doubtless come when they will push to expand the limits the government has given them. Which is that you cannot have news bulletins on your very local radio station.

The Hoot was set up nine years ago primarily to create the space for media critiques, something that there was no room for in the daily, independent media. The more freewheeling newspapers and TV channels became, the more you needed a watchdog. The Press Council had no teeth, journalists were having a jolly good time in many ways and had no interest in policing themselves, so we had to turn to the web to create the space for writing about the media.

But today there are emerging concerns which go beyond monitoring journalistic performance or ethics. There are tracts of the country where journalists cannot go in to report because the security forces and the naxals keep them out. So you don’t know what is happening to the populations which live there. In some states like West Bengal there is an emerging political culture which drives out journalists from press conferences held by political parties. Why? Because individual journalists are increasingly seen as partisan, and political party workers have become more intolerant.

There are more and more instances every month of censorship by the mob, which is what drove M F Hussain to become the citizen of another country. So in about two weeks from now the Hoot will be unveiling a free speech hub in cyberspace where it hopes free speech violations of every kind in all parts of the country will be flagged. There will be a calendar, and so far we have recorded 9 incidents in the month of January alone.

These range from police detaining journalists and a film maker in Dantewada, snatching their cameras and erasing their footage, the Bombay High court upholding a ban on a book which was imposed by the Maharashtra government, an ULFA diktat to journalists in Guwahati, an attack on a writer in Kerala by political activists, forced deletion of scenes from a Marathi film, the My Name is Khan incident and so on.

To be viligant about freedoms that are constantly under assault, once again, one needs to create an activist space.