Plain truths: Ajay T.G.’s films uncover a world hitherto concealed

Friday ReviewThe Hindu
THIRD EYE Ajay T.G.’s films reveal a socio-political insight into the state of Chhattisgarh

Ajay T.G.’s films are simple and telling. Screened recently by Vikalp Bengaluru, Alternative Law Forum and Pedestrian Pictures, five short films by the 35-year-old Chhattisgarh-based filmmaker drew crowds at the Centre for Film and Drama in Ban galore. Ajay T.G. and Dr. Binayak Sen have been arrested and charged under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA). Several well-known filmmakers, film societies, writers, thinkers and journalists have expressed publicly, the demand for Ajay’s release and his right to make films by screening his films and holding discussions in some parts of the country.

“Anjam” was an informative film about the life and work of Dr. Binayak Sen at the Shaheed Hospital in Rajhara. As patients pour in, nurses, workers and doctors give personal accounts about Dr. Sen’s contribution and efforts. Newspaper-clippings and certificates float on the screen — going back to Dr. Sen’s role and phenomenal achievements as a student at the Christian Medical College, Vellore and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi where he studied social medicine. Fifty six-year-old Binayak Sen has been in jail for more than a year for working for more than 30 years with the tribals of Chhattisgarh. On May 14, Ajay was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Chhattisgarh Special Security Act after publishing

“Hathaure Wala” (Man with the Iron Hammer) was short and revealing. Mid-long and life-size shorts of an ageing blacksmith working in the shadow of the Bhilai Steel Plant brought the audience in close proximity of his life and occupation.

Again, a short film, “Jeet” was a pre-rehearsed film by Jandarshan — a video-training project under the European Union-India Economic Cross Cultural Programme and Raipur-based Hindi daily “The Deshbandhu”. The student film captured a malaria-prevention drive in a village — very similar to a government movie on healthcare. Simple and straightforward for a target audience, “Jeet” portrayed the dichotomy of modern medical treatment and ancient myths.

Also a Jandarshan student film, Alpa Shah and Ajay’s “Heads and Tales” was an exhaustive and comprehensible film about the blurring and crossing of tradition and politics. An important socio-political message, the film also traced how the practice of caste and hereditary plays into the Parha Mela in Jharkhand. The Parha Mela becomes a multi-layered witness to community and community-hood coupled with politics. This insightful and meaningful film has also documented different perspectives of the meaning of the festival by different people who participate.

“The Journey” (Safar), directed by Rita Chandel and Ajay follows the life of Rita’s father who is a porter in a hospital. Heart-warming and profound, the film depicts larger questions of education, livelihood and marriage using Rita and her family.

The films of Ajay T.G. open up the life in Chhattisgarh and its residents; it gives a rare insight into a world that is shunned. A world where people are doubted for their good politics. Ajay T.G. was released on bail earlier this month on August 5.