Nishad:in vortex of Ganges -A documentary film on Boatmen in Varanasi | Milaap
Nishad:in vortex of Ganges -A documentary film on Boatmen in Varanasi
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  • Abhishek

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    Abhishek Tiwari
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    Nishad - in vortex of Ganges

    from Bhubaneswar, Odisha

Nishadraj was the king of Nishad community of  fishermen, boatmen who helped Ram, his wife Sita and his brother to cross the river on boat, a mythological character in Ramayana written by Valmiki. Adjacent to Nishadraj ghat lives a family of  five brothers. Among whom Bhoomi Nishad can be heard singing along the river Ganges.

The movie Nishad is a 52min documentary about people living in Nishadraj ghat on the bank of river Ganges in Banaras.

It questions the present caste structure, gender roles while asserting the history and past of Nishads; community rights over river and the land, and their representation in politics and media.

The story develops as different form of struggles comes out with the assertion of Nishad community past and present. In the backdrop of social movement emerging in January 2019 against the cruise boat introduced by the state and central governenment in the name of the development, the Nishad community gets organised to fight for their rights and vows to bring down the government through their vote.

The film revolves around the family of Bhoomi and his neighbourhood. They are struggling to make ends meet and are angry on the introduction of cruise boat too. All governments had introduced new rules for them: to get license and had fined many last year, for doing farming in their ancestral land on the other side of the river, and made fishing illegal which are their traditional livelihhod.

Bhoomi sing songs about Ganges, Boat men livelihood and Kabir. Bhoomi is looking to marry his son 'Chandan' soon. Chandan has worked in Japanese restaurant for few years as a cook and he wants to work there leaving the traditional boatmen livelihood. His father Bhoomi wants him to continue as Boatmen, and is worried as Chandan is Ardhangi, living in awaghat nagari (city of chaos) Benaras. Chandan sleeps on the boat, does not care about what people think and lives like bhangi. 

While shooting the documentary we met Chandan and all the characters around him, who narrates their life in their own way. We came across Sujeet a child who owns shop in fish market. Chandan saved him while he was drowning and they became friends. Chandan's neighbour Vikramditya Nishad, talks about how the life of Nishad community has been facing challenge from caste system. They have been ripped off from their livelihood, from fishing and farming, and upper castes are becoming fisherman and farmers as government have started giving subsidy to them to make ponds. He cites icons of Ved Vyas, Eklavya and Pholan devi who belong to their caste and explains how the society has always oppressed their community.

We also met few students from Banaras Hindu University who are from Nishad community and are working to organise them.

In the city of chaos, avghat nagari the documentary oscillates among relations between Smart city and the Village; Hinduism and Buddhism;  the River and Human beings; and Law of the Land and its people.

We are rasing money to 

- Shoot more for 15-20 days
- Complete the editing process, music composition and color correction
- Get projector and screen it in Universities and communities across India and world
- And try to start a media centre in Varanasi , 

by khichdi, kite festival, festival of harvest on 14th January 2020.

Contact the Team for any details:
Ramesh Hembram : +91 8291479456
Abhishek Tiwari : +91 8454073328

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