Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Screening of In God's Land by Pankaj Rishi Kumar

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

12:15 p.m.

Joukowksy Forum

Department of Anthropology and Brown-India Initiative present:

IN GOD'S LAND

Screening with filmmaker Pankaj Rishi Kumar

Synopsis: After taming a former wasteland through hard work and sweat and creating a community, the settlers start living there. The mythical birth of their village God Sudalai Swami unfolds the village’s unique journey to fight the oppression of the ‘big’ Vanamamalai Temple. Now that the clergy owns the land, the settlers are reduced to being tenant farmers and must make way for redevelopment after the land is sold off for a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). A dispute over God’s land begins. 'In God’ Land' is not simply about the fight between the priests and the farmers. Using animation it recounts the history of the land and satirizes the exploitation perpetuated by religion and class distinction. The film looks at the land within the larger issue of development, forcing us to recognize the totalitarian attitude of the ideals of development, ostensibly to bring economic prosperity but rarely a benefit to real users. But the film’s most interesting element is the people living on this god’s land. Instead of fighting the temple or government, they accept this dire reality and try to find comfort in god’s will, perhaps because for them it is still the land of god. (CHO Young-jung, Busan Film Festival)

Center for Contemporary South Asia

Filmmaker bio: Graduating from Pune’s Film and Television Institute in 1992, and specialising in Film Editing, Pankaj was assistant editor on Sekhar Kapur's Bandit Queen. After editing documentaries and TV serials, he made his first film KUMAR TALKIES. Subsequently, Pankaj has become a one man crew producing, directing, shooting and editing his own films. (Pather Chujaeri, The Vote, Gharat, 3 Men and a Bulb, Punches n Ponytails, Seeds of Dissent). His films have been screened at festivals all over the world. He has won grants from Hubert Bals, IFA, Jan Vrijman, AND (Korea), Banff, Majlis, Sarai and Pad.ma. Pankaj was awarded an Asia Society fellowship at Harvard Asia Centre (2003). He was a TA at the first Asian Film Academy (Pusan). Pankaj also curates and teaches.