Theatre actor, director and filmmaker Vinod Bharti and members of his group Rangroot Theater, are not interested in the problems of an individual. The focus of their plays, films and literary activities is social and political problems faced by the present generation and the society at large.
Bharti, a graduate from the Department of Indian Theatre, Panjab University, has worked as an assistant director in Mumbai on several film projects, including Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, and We Were Seeds, a series of short poetic films that highlight four different but interconnected issues that influence our society. A poet, Bharti, 35, has written songs for many theatre productions. He says he chose films to express pressing issues since it has a wider reach than theatre. “The digital platform makes it easier for new filmmakers with limited budgets to express their thoughts and ideas. These five-minute films are a result of many months of work, with financial help from friends and people who believe in the project,” says Bharti, who has written and shot the film. He uses videos, speeches and statements of politicians as well as poetry penned by him, which he says, allows him to say a lot in a few words.
The first film has Kanupriya, president of the student council, Panjab University, Chandigarh, as the central figure. The film shows women’s struggle for azaadi (freedom) during the Pinjra Tod Movement in the different universities in India. It depicts how politicians undermined the importance of equal freedom for women. The film shows how attempts were made to crush the movement for freedom. “Women like Kanupriya, who were involved in this movement, fought back fiercely against the patriarchal notions. The film is an accolade for all women who are fighting for equal rights,” says Bharti.
The second film in the series features Aman, a student-activist of Punjab University, who was also involved in the Pinjra Tod Movement and was also part of the protest against fee hike in the university. The film addresses widespread violence across the country, including mob-lynching and suffering of the common people during demonetisation. “Issues of educational infrastructure, where children from marginalised sections are excluded from the mainstream and are forced into child labour, corporate loot and exploitation of the marginalised sections are the other concerns that we have raised in the film,” adds Bharti.
The third film discusses LGBTQ rights. Dhananjay, an LGBTQ activist, is the central protagonist. This film questions why the LGBTQ community doesn’t have equal rights in the political and social set-up.
The fourth film touches upon the issue of caste discrimination and Dalit atrocities and how a large section of society has been marginalised. “This film talks about
Dr Ambedkar’s vision of society, where there is no caste discrimination and where women are given equal rights,” says Bharti, adding that the music for the films has been created by Shankar, Raman and Umesh.