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A friend, a search & a film

Anirban Datta at Studio21. Picture by B. Halder

A tribute to a close friend and a chronology of the waste around us (both tangible and intangible) is what Anirban Datta’s 52-minute documentary, Wasted, is all about. The film was screened for the first time before a select audience at Studio21 last week.

Datta’s film offers an interesting take on recycling industrial and digital waste and the lives of people associated with it. It spans across Delhi, Jaipur, Benaras, Hyderabad, Calcutta and other places, capturing how these cities treat their waste.

The filmmaker’s search intensified with the death of a close friend, Raja Chatterjee. “Rajada was a dear friend and we had been working together. When he died suddenly it was a huge shock for me. I was bombarded with memories. A visit to his house revealed a treasure trove of poems written by him and a rich collection of books. We did not know what to do with the belongings that a person leaves behind. Do they turn into waste? We started cataloguing the books and thus the recycling process began,” said Datta, who has won accolades for earlier projects.

Technological revolution has given rise to a new type of waste that requires different kind of recycling, felt Datta. “My film was a research into that. The idea sparked as I was working on my previous projects. What do we do with excess research material? Not everything can be used,” said Datta. After two years of hard work and research, Wasted was completed in 2012.

In the course of his docu-feature, he is shown visiting both traditional places like Benaras and Kumbh as well as recent IT destinations. From recording historians’ takes on the traditional concept of waste (in the old agrarian society in India nothing was believed to go to waste) to the health hazards that modern day waste causes, the film artistically captures various aspects and points of view.

The journey ends with the filmmaker paying respects to “Rajada” by throwing his mortal remains in the Ganga as the cycle of life and recycling continues.

The Rajat Kamal Special Jury Award winner is now working on his first feature film.