The documentary on Nagri being screened in Ranchi on Thursday. (Hardeep Singh)
The struggle of hundreds of villagers from Nagri found a screen at the auditorium of St Xavier’s College on Thursday.
A three-day-old film students’ film festival, Cynosure-2013, ended on a high in Ranchi with renowned film-makers Biju Toppo and Meghnath screening Pratirodh — A story of Nagri movement- resistance against injustice on Thursday.
The 52-minute documentary based on real-life struggles of villagers trying to protect 227 acres of farm land was lauded by the gathering, which included five Nagri residents who had made their way to the capital for the special screening.
The Nagri dispute centres around the ownership of around 227 acres where the campuses of three prestigious cradles — IIM-Ranchi, NUSRL and IIIT — were supposed to come up.
The Nagri villagers refused to give up their land and claimed that the state’s acquisition procedure followed in the 1950s was faulty.
Speaking to The Telegraph on Thursday Vikas Toppo, one of the Nagri villagers who was involved in the struggle said, “Humlog Biju sir ke abhari hai jinhone itne acche se humare sangharsh ko dikhaya hai (We are grateful to Biju sir who has beautifully captured our movement)”.
He, however, rued the fact that the state had failed to take up the issue up seriously.
“We are solely dependent on agriculture and our fields. The government wanted to take our land and offer employment to one person in each family. But what about the others?” Toppo asked.
The film will also be part of the VIBGYOR International Film Festival at Thrissur in Kerala February and also the Banaras Film Festival scheduled in March.
Biju Toppo, said their idea of shooting the documentary was to ensure that justice was done. “The people have been tilling their land for the last 50 years before the state suddenly came in and tried to snatch away their land,” Toppo said.
“We were moved by the plight of the simple villagers. Their only source of sustenance were their farming lands that the government wanted to take over,” said Pratyush Kumar, third year mass communication department student of St Xavier’s College.
Echoing him, Meghnath, who actively supported Toppo in making the documentary, said they wanted the issue to reach out to as many people as possible.
“We always feel real issues should be taken up for making films. When Nagri agitated, Biju was there to shoot it with his camera. We also co-ordinated with social activist Dayamani Barla who was actively involved in the struggle,” he said. Both Meghnath and Biju Toppo are credited with the foundation of AKHRA, a group working in the field of culture and communication in Jharkhand.
Apart from Pratirodh, the other films screened during the last day of the film festival were Cinemai Safar Jharkhand Ka by actor-writer Sushil Ankan, Life of a police person and Deepika Kumari — Golden Girl filmed by students of Jamshedpur-based Karim City College.