The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Swades powers a healing touch

Calcutta, Aug. 10: In 1976, five lakh dairy farmers chipped in with Rs 2 each to help Shyam Benegal make Manthan. Three decades later, you can all chip in with Rs 10 each to help light up a village, just like Shahrukh Khan’s Mohan Bhargava did in Swades.

Pegged on the TV premiere of the film on Independence Day, STAR Gold has joined hands with director Ashutosh Gowariker to come up with Project Swades ' “generation of electricity through integrated community development”.

“It’s the best way of taking the message of the movie beyond the film,” Gowariker told The Telegraph. “In fact, when I was researching for Swades, I came across this hydel power project in a village called Pilgaon in Maharashtra and placed that concept in my film. So I aped reality for my film and now we will be aping the film for actually lighting up a village. It’s like one entire cycle.”

Released in 2004, Swades revolved around the Nasa-returned Mohan Bhargava who gives up his high-profile job to light up an Indian village through a hydel power project involving all the villagers.

To generate funds for the hydel power plant of Project Swades, STAR Gold will start on-air promos urging viewers to SMS ‘SWADES’ to 7827. Each text message will automatically be a donation of Rs 10 to the Project Swades Fund and STAR Gold will match each donation with an equal amount.

Says Samir Nair, chief operating officer of STAR India: “Our research tells us that it may need Rs 7 to 10 lakh to electrify a village. And that’s not a big amount. But we do not just want to be cheque book philanthropists. So we would be happy if we can get people to contribute and come together for a noble cause like this.”

Helping STAR and Gowariker achieve the “come, light a village” dream is an NGO,, which has already scouted villages across the country to identify the Project Swades village.

“There are more than 60,000 villages in India which are still without electricity. We are trying to identify those ones where electricity is badly needed. Also, we have to keep in mind that since it’s a hydel project, there has to be constant river flow and it should be accessible for all of us to visit the place on and off,” says Sanjay Bapat, managing director of

If the funds collected till August 30 exceed the amount needed to light up a single village of 100 people, a bigger village or more number of villages will be identified. Once the villages are fixed, it would be very much a replication of the 2004 film.

“We don’t want to move away from the film and so all the ground work has to be done by the villagers themselves,” added Gowariker. “Just like Mohan Bhargava’s catharsis in the film, hopefully we can all turn around and give back something to the community we are part of.”

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