Thursday, August 19, 2010

Two Movies Highlight the Problem of Farmers Committing Suicide

This is my latest article published in, a tech website.

I am glad the movie Peepli Live has inadvertently set the silver screens on fire, well sort of. It has highlighted the case of farmers committing suicide in India which I had written about in many articles on my blog. Faced with crops failing because of lack of rain, farmers in India have been committing suicide unable to pay back the loans they have taken from local money lenders. Indian farmers have been living in abject poverty despite the progress the country is making in fields such as outsourcing, technology, infrastructure and biotechnology.

What is at the root of this frustration? Indian farmers have long been living a subsistence existence because the benefits of liberalization and the newly set-free-from-shackles regime of tax cuts have not benefited them. Their land holdings are small and they are forced to borrow money from local money lenders with promise of paying them back after the crops are harvested. When crops fail they fail too.

Peepli Live (I have not seen the film yet) is about such a subsistence farmer in the village of Peepli who announces that he will be committing suicide to the media. This brings teams of television and other media journalists to cover the development which they assume would be of significant news value. I am not sure what happens in the end.

Another significant movie which highlights the plight of farmers who commits suicide is produced by writer, entrepreneur and journalist Harini Calamur is Jhing Chak Jhing. The movie has won many awards and is running to packed houses in several theatres around Maharashtra. The movie is titled after a colloquialism used by children while playing and looks at the problem from the eyes of a child. The movie (from what I hear as I have not seen it so far, but I mean to) is less sensational in its treatment but is a serious movie worth a look. Wonder if it will come to a theatre in New Bombay.

Both these films have succeeded in highlighting the problem. It remains to be seen what solutions will be offered by the government which has not taken a keen interest in solving this problem so far.


ms said...

i wish harini calamur's movie had the support of some bollywood celebrity. sometimes great works are lost in the shadows because they don't have a spotlight shining on them. what amirkhan has done for peepli-live guaratees its commercial success even though it may not be of the same high standard as jhing chak jhing. i felt the same after watching "blue umbrella".

wanderer said...

I am looking forward to watching the movie...

John P Matthew said...

watch it!