Utpal Borpujari

December 1, 2008

Yarwng opens govt’s eyes to human displacement issue in NE

By Utpal Borpujari 

Can a film move the mountains? Well, at the 39th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Panaji, Goa, it seemed so as the Centre seemed to have woken up to a three-decades-long human displacement problem in North-East India thanks to a feature film. 

The film in question is Yarwng (Roots) in Tripura’s tribal language Kokborok, which opened the prestigious Indian Panorama section’s feature film section on Sunday. 

The film on its surface is a love story which remained incomplete, but the backdrop of about 60,000 tribal people displaced because of the construction of a dam in the mid 1970s and the government’s failure to the rehabilitate them even after more than 30 years caught Union Minister Anand Sharma unawares. 

As soon as the film’s director Joseph Pulinthanath spoke about the displaced people “who are still moving around like gypsies after all these years”, Sharma, Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting, announced that he would take the matter up with the Tripura government on behalf of the Centre. 

“I promise that as soon as I am back in Delhi, I will speak with the Tripura Chief Minister to resolve this problem,” he said after complimenting Pulinthanath for making  the film in a language of whose existence “I was not aware of despite having toured almost all districts of the country” in his political capacity. 

Pulinthanath latter said that filmmakers from the North-East more often than not made films to highlight the realities of life in the region that is beset with various problems.  

“We are more inclined to look for development and welfare of the people through the medium of cinema. It is the lack of development and delivery of justice that is the root cause of many problems. We have borders with several other countries which makes our region very sensitive,” he said. 

Yarwng, incidentally, had recently won a special jury award at the 3rd Eye Asian Film Festival in Mumbai.

(Published in Sakaal Times, www.sakaaltimes.com, http://epaper.sakaaltimes.com, 24-11-2008)

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