On the suggestion of one of his friends nearly two months ago, Mumbai-based street photographer Pramod Pednekar visited Bhaktachi Wadi, a small village near Karjat in Raigad district. Pednekar’s friend wanted him to witness the efforts of a tribal woman, Indu Kevari, to address the scarcity of water in Bhaktachi Wadi. After reaching the village, Pednekar discovered that Kevari did not confine her efforts to her village, but also reached out to help the tribals of the nearby villages. Impressed, Pednekar decided to document Kevari’s story in a short film.
He returned to the village the very next month to shoot the film, Khadkavarchi Hirval, which will be showcased at the 12th Tribal Film Festival to be held on August 20 at the National Film Archive of India from 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm. While Pednekar has done the production and the cinematography of the film, it is directed by Vilas Sarmalkar.
“The village had been facing water problem for the last many years. But nothing was done to address it. Kevari consistently and relentlessly followed up with the local civic officials to resolve the water issue by doing the rounds of the government offices. Simultaneously, she gathered the village women to support her fight for the issue. Recently, Bhaktachi Wadi saw 500-metre water pipeline being laid which has solved its water problem,” says Pednekar.
Pednekar shares that two years ago, through a local social worker, Kevari, who’s in her early 30s, got in touch with a social organisation, CORO India, that works for the rights of the marginalised communities. After interacting with the NGO workers, she got the confidence to fight for the rights of her community. In the 14-minute film, she talks about the various problems faced by the tribals in her area, particularly the village Tepachi Wadi.
“The need for livelihood makes tribal people migrate from one place to another and, hence, the children of the community remain uneducated. They do not have ration cards and have various health problems due to lack of nutrition, consumption of polluted water and continuously working in the brick kilns. There are various government policies for them, but the benefits fail to reach them,” she says.
“She (Kevari) herself has two kids, but instead of living only for her family and her kids, she is walking an extra mile to help others. Given that the film is a strong medium to spread any message, I decided to capture the problem of the tribals of this region as well as Kevari’s struggle to fight for their problems, like electricity, water, education, etc,” says Pednekar, adding that the villagers of both Bhaktachi Wadi and Tepachi Wadi cooperated during the shoot of the film.
Jointly organised by Bahurang Pune and Global Enviro-Legal Services Foundation, the Tribal Film Festival will also see screening of other films that talk about the tribal communities. Some of the films include We Have To Reach Them, The Garos, Baster Rhythm of Progress; Tribal of Andaman, Vanishing and Tribe and Pavara: Ek Jamaat.