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Plight of the Young Crop

When he informed his friends back home in Amravati about his admission in the Film and Television Institute of India,Pune,no one knew about the esteemed film school.

Written by Dipti Nagpaul D'souza |
June 5, 2012 1:38:02 am

When he informed his friends back home in Amravati about his admission in the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII),Pune,no one knew about the esteemed film school. But Dhiraj Meshram,who became the first person from Amravati to study in FTII,asserts that by no means did his town lack access to cinema during his growing up years. “Mainstream cinema was popular in Amravati like anywhere else. In fact,we used to have extra 6 am shows for blockbusters. Movies by Manmohan Desai ran for 24 hours,” he recollects.

When it was time for Meshram to make his own film,the director chose to return to his roots. His debut film Baromas uses the plight of farmers in Vidarbha as the backdrop and dwells on the problems of the educated unemployed from the region. A Hindi screen adaptation of Sadanand Deshmukh’s Sahitya Akademi award-winning Marathi novel of the same name,the film will release later this year. It stars Seema Biswas,Benjamin Gilani,Jatin Goswami and Subrat Dutta in key roles.

Meshram’s decision to adapt the book dates back to 2005 when he read the novel. “Even though Amravati is the more prosperous part of Vidarbha,characters from the book are similar to people I have come across. Besides,the plight of farmers is not limited to Maharashtra or Vidarbha alone,” he explains. A few days after he read the novel,Meshram had a chance to meet the book’s author. But when he shared his plans for a screen adaptation with Deshmukh,he was informed that the author had already promised to sell the book’s rights. “But I heard nothing about the film for a few years and got in touch with Deshmukhji again,” he says. Meshram then found out that the makers had been unable to put the film together and he could purchase the rights. So the director spoke to his friend and film aficionado P Sajith,who came on board as Baromas’ producer.

While penning the script,however,the 37-year-old used his exposure of mainstream cinema. The book’s protagonist is the elder son of a farmer. Both he and his brother are educated but unemployed and decide to take up farming. But the monsoon plays truant and the family finds itself faced with poverty and a suicide. “I have played down the agricultural issue because there are several good films,including Marathi film called Gabhricha Paus,which highlight it. Instead,I have used that as a backdrop and focussed on the story of the two brothers,” he says. The younger one,Madhukar (Goswami),takes to banditry while the elder,Eknath (Dutta),chooses the path of politics to oust corrupt politicians.

The film has been titled after the book because Meshram felt that the word ‘baromas’,which means ‘forever’,aptly describes the unchanging state of the educated unemployed youth from the region.

To bring down the film’s production cost without compromising on quality,Meshram shot with a crew from FTII on location in Vidarbha and also cast several local actors . “We got experienced actors like Seema and Benjaminji on board for the key parts,but that was not enough to make the film look authentic. That is why we shot near Amravati and auditioned actors from Vidarbha theatre group for other parts,” he explains.

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