Thursday, July 7, 2011

India Youth Icon Part 2

We reached Bengaluru by 6 in the morning. Here we had to meet with B. Manjunath family who resides at KGF (Kolar Gold Fields) in Bangarpet Taluk of Kolar District of Karnataka. KGF township is about 30 km from Kolar and 100 km from Bengaluru. The gold mines of KGF were closed down in 2001 due to reducing deposits. Around 1 pm we reached at KGF. The drive till KGF was astonishing and landscape was so vibrant. KGF township was small closed community area where mainly the families of the employees of Bharat Gold Mines Limited (BGML) reside.

We introduced ourselves with the help of an interpreter to Manjunath’s mother. It was obviously difficult to her to talk about his late son. Somehow she composed herself and showed us some pictures and numerous newspaper cuttings published in different national and regional dailies about his son's courage.

Manjunath’s Father came in the mean time and he agreed to give us interview.

M Shanmugam, Manjunath's father

Now a day a nation wide wave against corruption is going on and everybody is talking about getting black money back and debating on clauses of Lokpal bill. Some of them are politically motivated while few may want it genuinely, but there are people in every nook and corner of our society who are not just fighting against the root cause of corruption, but sacrificing their lives too. Manjunath was one of them.

Akhil Krishnan, Manjunath's Friend
He had these qualities since childhood and later his friend and classmate in IIM Lucknow Akhil, told us that he used to put some quotes on IIM canteen notice board on daily basis. Most of the time nobody even look at it but he was continuing to do so as his utmost duty. He has given his life but never compromised on corruption.

Here is Manjunath's part of film :

Due to tight schedule we didn’t had any time to visit places in Bengaluru and it was early flight to our next destination Kolkata. So we decided to retired in our hotel room. 

Next day 8 AM Kingfisher flight took us to Kolkata. Here we had to catch Sealdah Rajdhani Express to Dhanbad in Jharkhand for our next stop Giridih also in Jharkhand state. The time that we had left was utilized to famous Shiraz’s shop in park street for its mind boggling Biryani. Just heavenly! We forget everything and indulged ourselves in the aroma of mouth-watering dishes.

After that our 3 hours journey from Sealdah to Dhanbad begins. By 8 pm we reached to Dhanbad. Our local reporter had arranged a mahindra bolero and since single vehicle movement was not allowed due to naxalite threat so we had to wait till few vehicles and a police van on special request gathered to accompany us. It was pitch-dark night and dense forest on both side, and when we read a board that “don’t panic police is with you” then it actually embarks fear in us. Landmines are very common in this part of the country and once you travel outside your city area, your family members are always worried about your safety. Our driver and local friends were constantly getting calls from their family and they told us that it is not preferred to travel towards Giridih in dark.

Even in the absence of electricity, our night stay was made quite comfortable in some two star hotel with constant generator input.

In morning our journey started in the same Bolero, which accompanied us greatly in bad road conditions and then relatives and friends of late Kameshwar yadav had arranged some bikes because after a certain point no four wheel was able to drive in the narrow village road.

The landscape was simply awesome. Giridih is in the Chhotanagpur region of Jharkhand, and the area is mostly covered with bamboo and sal trees. However ground reality is not so romantic.

Village : Khatori, Prakhand : Devri, Jharkhand

The economy is dependant mainly on agriculture. Most of the villagers are deprived of basics. The same story as in most part of the country, agriculture depends on nature instead of scientific development, so people force to do bonded labor, when government took some initiative like NREGA scheme, then it gets affected with corruption. The family of Kameshwar yadav was in deep pain and suffering after his death and fortunately this incident unite the villagers to fight for a cause.

Kameshwar Yadav's Family
Kameshwar Yadav's wife
We came back to Giridih around 5 PM took some rest and then catch the train to Patna, Bihar for our next assignment.

Here is the Kameshwar yadav's part of film :

In Patna we were suppose to meet late Yogendra pandey’s family. He left a son, a daughter and his wife behind him. It was not easy to talk under such a situation. They have lost the faith in the system but maintained their belief in honesty and probably this gave them courage to talk about the incident.

Yogendra Pandey's family

Here is the Yogendra pandey part of film :

Same evening we left for Delhi. Family of Satyendra dubey is now living in NCR. We met his brother and father at his residence. His brother was quite furious about the system and father was running out of hope.

If my son would have got justice then I would have definitely asked others to follow the same path. Now how can I do so? Does anybody have answer to this?

Here is Satyendra Dubey part of film :

This is the final film that was showcased in the "Videocon India Youth Icon Award" on 25/10/2009

India Youth Icon Part 1

This was the most incredible journey cum an assignment cum a noble mission for me. We were assigned a Herculean task to make a documentary on the life of social crusaders of India. The whistleblowers, who are committed their life against on going corruption in our country. We first needed to identify those persons from the length and breadth of  the country then we need to visit those places, take interviews, shoot and then make a final film to be showcased in “Videocon India Youth Icon Award” on 25th September 2009. This was a joint initiative of Sahara India News Network, the company I am working for, and one of the largest consumer appliances manufacturing company Videocon.

Our team was headed by Mr. Bithin Das, Director of Photography and Director of this Documentary, I as a Script Writer, Researcher and Assistant Director and our Editor Navin Dewangan.

Searching on Internet and the inputs from our news team across the country, we started the work.  After a week of research, available time and expected length of documentary, what we called pre-production phase, we zeroed on five names:

1.    Jairaman, a computer operator in Puducherry University was killed when he came to know about the scam in medical entrance examination and raised voice against it.


2.     B. Manjunath, ex alumni of IIM Lucknow and officer in Indian Oil Corporation, was shot dead in Lakheempur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh, when he refused to compromise with the oil mafia.

 3.    Yogendra Pandey, a PWD Engineer in Bihar. He was killed in Sitamadhi, Bihar, under suspicious circumstances after an ongoing war with corrupt contractors.

Yogendra Pandey

4.    Kameshwar Yadav, a social activist from Jharkhand. He raised voice against corruption in NREGA projects and gets killed when considered as a threat.

Kameshwar Yadav
5.    Satyendra Dubey,  ex alumni of IIT Delhi and a project manager in National Highway Authority of India’s (NHAI) ambitious golden quadrilateral and north-south, east-west corridors project. He wrote to PM about the ongoing corruption in the construction project but his identity was leaked. He was posted in Gaya, Bihar, when he was threatened and finally killed by corrupt contractors.

Satyendra Dubey
Usually before a shoot the shooting location is visited and examined thoroughly to observe the condition and suitability for cast and crew and most importantly as per the requirement of the script. But here we were not sure about the whereabouts of family members of the victims and their willingness to talk about the incident. So, the script was not finalized with the expectation of last minutes changes. Any how, with cameras, tripod, lighting equipments, various filters and jells, and one camera and one lighting assistant the crew of four persons including me and Bithin Sir, took the flight in the early morning from domestic airport of Delhi to Chennai on 12th September 2009. There we were supposing to co-ordinate with our reporters in Hyderabad and Bengaluru. Our first meeting was expected with Jairaman family in Puducherry.

By 9:30 we reached at Chennai Airport. Puducherry was our first destination and it was decided to go there by taxi. After clearance and everything we contacted with our Hyderabad correspondent and received our first shock that the brother of Jairaman is not willing to talk with us as the CBI enquiry was still going on. With lot of ambiguity we started our beautiful journey to Puducherry along the seaside. Road condition was good and scenic. Driver was playing the music of Illay Raja which was perfectly accompanying our mood and excitement although we were not able to understand a single word.   

It was 4-5 hour journey as I can recall, and we reached Puducherry by around 3 PM. Here we had a contact who taken us to the Kalapet Area where Jairaman’s family lives.

Kalapet, Puducherry
We communicated through an interpreter and learned that Jairaman was only earning member in his family and now their family was suffering for basic needs. He was single and holds the responsibility of a joint family. It was very difficult to see her mother crying like anything, most importantly because she had lost her faith in the system. They were in sheer panic. Local police was also pressurizing them to not open their mouth.

Jairaman's mother with his photograph
Somehow we managed to shoot and then went to other locations too like university and other areas to establish our story. Here is the Jairaman's part of film :

After work it was the time to explore Puducherry. Puducherry is the French interpretation of the original name “Puducheri” that means “new settlement”. The Portuguese, the Dutch, the Danes, the English and the French all were here in some span of time. The culture of city is seems to a mirror of its history and gives it a unique charm. First of all we visited to the beach in front of famous “Aurbindo Ashram” located on rue de la Marine, but it was overcrowded, so we decided to go to some lesser-known beaches. And I personally feel that the beauty of isolated seaside is simply unparallel. Mountains and ocean makes me believe that how small we are and there is someone who is capable to create such a mammoth creation. Many French have purchased huge bungalows at seaside, they can be found everywhere swimming and relaxing at beaches.

A trip to Puducherry can’t be completed without savoring its amazing seafood. A variety of prawns, shrimps, crabs and wide arrays of fishes are widely available to satisfy your taste buds. We also tried some amazing cold yet crispy pakodas, that none of us seen before. 

We reached back at Chennai ISBT by 11 PM or so and immediately catch the bus to our next destination Bengaluru.