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Real life varsity politics on silver screen

A high-definition video camera, apart from the Patna University election committee, is keeping a hawk eye on the highs and lows of the Patna University Students’ Union (Pusu) election for the past few weeks.

Kumud Ranjan, a documentary filmmaker, is capturing the historic union election, being held after 28 years, on celluloid for his yet-to-be-titled documentary.

The 30-year-old Patna man, who has completed his masters in mass communication from Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism and Communication, Bhopal, has several other documentaries shown at international film festivals to his credit.

The documentary, being shot on a shoestring budget of Rs 3 lakh, is slated for release next February.

Asked about the reason behind making a documentary film on the Pusu election, Ranjan said: “It is a historic event for Bihar because this election is being held after almost 28 years. For the students of Bihar and especially Patna University, it is a major issue. There have been several protests and agitations on this issue. Thus, it is extremely important to capture this moment on camera. Finally, democracy has made a comeback to the university.”

Ranjan first came into the spotlight with his debut, The Man Who Moved The Mountain, a 26-minute documentary on the life of the late Dasrath Manjhi, popularly known as the “Mountain Man of Gaya”.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar had offered Manjhi to sit on his chair. The legendary man had carved a wide road through the Gehlaur hills in Atri block of Gaya district, around 125km south of Patna. It took Manjhi 20 years to carve the road with a pair of hammer and chisel. The documentary released last year was screened at the Mumbai International Film Festival 2012 and also at the Kerala International Film Festival 2012.

Sharing details of his latest documentary, Ranjan said: “I have been shooting on the premises of Patna University for the past 20 days, meeting prominent student leaders and capturing moments. Several incidents, right from eve-teasing to group clashes, have rocked the university. Now, students are involved in many activities on the same premises for the election. Through this documentary film, I will also try to project how an election can change the lives of the students.”

“What would be the effect of political parties on the election? I will speak to RJD chief Lalu Prasad and deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who were student leaders once. Laluji had protested on a number of issues then. How these leaders see this election? What kind of issues were relevant in their times and now? My documentary will focus on these,” said Ranjan.

Asked about the film’s duration, Ranjan said: “That would be clearer after editing. I will send it to film festivals after speaking to the vice-chancellor. I will show it on the university campus.”

The son of a govern- ment employee, Ranjan, started his career as a cameraman with a Hindi news channel in 2008.

After his debut, he made a 90-minute documentary Footprints in the Desert based on the lives of people along the India-Pakistan border and After the Aftermath on the Bathani Tola massacre.


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