Filmmaker Anshul Sinha has won over 100 awards and his latest docu-drama is about the country’s agrarian crisis.
Winner of 104 awards and maker of 42 films, Anshul Sinha calls himself a ‘product of film festivals’. There are hardly any national and international film festivals that this city-based filmmaker enters and comes back empty handed. His previous projects featured sensitive subjects such as the organ mafia, for which he has even received death threats.
Back to the Roots
The 27-year-old’s latest film is the 120-minute long Mitti: Back to the Roots. The docu-drama — made in two years by about 12 people behind and 100 people in front of the lens — focuses on the reasons for the agrarian crisis of India. “The news about farmers committing suicide made me want to do something about it. I approached the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) to understand the subject under the guidance of its founder and agriculture scientist Dr G. V. Ramanjaneyulu,” says Anshul.
“Mitti covers about 20 different issues that farmers face, like pricing policy, pesticides and herbicide-tolerant seeds that are banned in India, but most Telangana farmers are still using them. In the film, there is a solution for each of these issues. We even show the multiple-cropping model which is being used by the CSA and it works wonders,” he further explains.
Closer To The Mitti
To explore the world of farmers and agriculture, the entire team of the film stayed in Enabavi — Telangana’s first organic village — for a few days to understand the subject and even spent several weeks with families of some suicide victims. They also visited Dorli — a village that has been put on sale because all of its residents are in serious debt.
The team is now aiming for a nation-wide theatrical release, but has been struggling for a breakthrough with distributors. “People are looking at the film with a closed mind. If you see the trailer, you will understand that even though the topic is serious, we have added dramatic scenes. Even when we first planned to make the film, we searched a lot for a producer. We were not successful and decided to crowd-fund. I have been a TEDx speaker; so through social media, we were able to convince 120 people to contribute funds. People were impressed by the pre-film dummy shoot of the script and by the story board, where each and every frame of the film — about 1,500 — were hand drawn to the T.”
After the death threats and many other trials he faced after his earlier film on organ mafia, Anshul slipped into depression. “I used to work as a customer service executive during the night and worked on the film during the day. I was sleep deprived and after I slipped into depression, I got kicked out of my job. That’s when I started running marathons. In running, you have to start off by setting small goals for yourself and go up from there once you start gaining confidence. I started with 5k run and last year, I completed my first full marathon. After the film received awards, I got more confidence and was able to get better,” says Anshul.