The air was like fire,
A fierce goddess entered the villages,
And killed the people with diseases,
So people remained in their homes,
And did not go outside, In this great famine,
Some died and some survived
Lines from ‘Durbhikshya Boli’ - a poem by poet Sri.Manohar Meher from Sinapali, who witnessed the seven famines of 1899.
This documentary film talks about one hundred years of drought and lore in the districts of Kalahandi and Naupada in Orissa and its impact on the lives of tribes - Gond and Bhunjia. Produced by National Folklore Support Centre (Chennai), in collaboration with Adibasi Sanskruti Gabesana Parishad (Orissa) as a part of Orissa Digital Community Archive Project. Funded by Ford Foundation.
Thanks to Mr. M.D. Muthukumaraswamy ( Director NFSC) for giving me this project and Mr. Mahendra Kumar Misra (ASGP) for helping me realize it.
I learned a lot while doing this film - Simple facts like, my life in Kerala and metros in India never told anything about India. As Gandhi said India’s heart is in her villages. In a way one can call India, a big village. Though the project started with the plan of representing the effect of drought in those regions, what I saw was - the tribes were not only suffered from the drought but they were even badly affected by landgravers and corrupted officials. They were displaced form their own land. Gonds shifted to Raipur, remains a living truth of displacement. Interviews with Mr. Ravi Das, Secretary (Kalahandi Vikas Parishad) also proved this fact.
As Amarthya Sen says in ‘Poverty and Famine’(1981)
“Starvation is the characteristic of some people not having enough food to eat. It is not the characteristic of there being no food to eat”