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The Wager on Cinema: Screening 11 – If She Built A Country/ Agar Wo Desh Banati

The Sarai Programme invites you to the eleventh screening of the film series titled The Wager on Cinema: Maheen Mirza’s ‘If She Built A Country’/ ‘Agar Wo Desh Banati’

The film’s editor Puloma Pal will be available for the discussion after the screening. The respondents for this film are Fathima Nizaruddin and Sourav Mahanta.

Date: 15 November, 2019
Time: 5:30PM (Tea will be served at 5PM)
Venue: The Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, 29, Rajpur Road, Civil Lines, Delhi – 110054.

About ‘The Wager on Cinema’-
How do we estimate the value, aesthetic force, and meaning of cinema today? As media experience, technological change has transformed it beyond recognition, its material forms altered by analog and digital video formats, and the modes of circulating, viewing, accessing cinema and making it have expanded exponentially. And yet, the dream and ambition of cinema as we have known it has not dissipated, the desire to congregate audiences to participate in a distinct world of experience, whether to excite, amuse, to move or to solicit reflection and engagement, to bear witness and to mobilise.

‘If She Built A Country/ Agar Wo Desh Banati’

59 mins/HD/Hindi and Chhatisgarhi

For over a decade now, private and public mining corporations have been encroaching upon and digging up the coal-rich forested lands of North Chhattisgarh – sometimes by blatantly violating the law and at other times by circumventing it, but always, at the cost of lives of the most marginal of peoples. They have displaced whole villages, polluted the lungs and bodies of whole populations and dispossessed whole generations from what is rightfully theirs, all the while making profits from the sale of coal. The true costs of production, however, have been borne by those who have both laboured for and resisted against the process of extraction – the women at the forefront of the struggle, into whose everyday lives the violence of this extraction is folded.

Walking behind them, through the coal mines that have ravaged their lands and lie now like open wounds, the film follows the stories of the brave adivasi women of Raigarh, as they struggle not only to save their lands and livelihoods, seeking justice for themselves, their communities and the generations to come after them, but also, as they reimagine a future for us all, asking one of the most brutally honest and pertinent questions of our times – what does development really mean?

Maheen Mirza is a cinematographer committed to cinema that is born of collective practice. She is a part of Ektara Collective, a strong proponent of the independent cinema movement that seeks to build inclusive and collective cultural spaces. She has been a part of the scripting and cinematography of ‘Jaadui Machchi’ (2013) and ‘Turup’ (2017), among others.

Puloma Pal works as a film editor. She seeks work across diverse locations, not just the film industry but also in the development sector, academic departments and archives. Some of her work includes ‘Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai’, ‘A Far Afternoon’, ‘365 without 377’, and ‘Xeitu Monot Asse’. As a part of Ektara Collective she has worked on ‘Jaadui Machchi’ and ‘Turup’.

Fathima Nizaruddin is a currently Assistant Professor at AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi. She is a filmmaker and has directed ‘Nuclear Hallucinations’ as part of her practice-based PhD at University of Westminster, London.

Sourav Mahanta is an independent researcher. His work looks at the intersection of mining and law in India in the colonial and postcolonial period. He submitted his PhD thesis at the Centre for Historical Studies, JNU, Delhi.