Published: 01st December 2020
Short film Maliput Offline is all about the plight of rural folk in Odisha and the lack of digital education access
The writer of the film Maliput Offline is Sudhakar Patnaik. And the veteran artist takes us through his journey of scripting and being there while the movie was being shot. Here's what he said
As far as access to online education in rural areas goes, there are only two kinds of parents, according to Sudhakar Patnaik research. Those who would do anything to ensure that their child has a device, even if they have to wander to find the network, and those who have accepted the situation and know that it might not be practical to sell something to get them a device. Maliput Offline is a short film on the former. And the writer of the film, Sudhakar Patnaik, was inspired by real-life circumstances to pen the story.
Sudhakar used to work for the Jeypore Kala Parishad as a director and writer of plays and now, he is a scriptwriter for the JFC
Multiple state-award winning director Vishal Patnaik, who directed this film, is also an art teacher at the Odisha Adarsha Vidyalaya in Jeypore. It was on Teachers' Day that he received a forlorn phone call from his student, Sona Khmundu. Of course, the student wished Vishal and then shared his plight about not being able to go to school as they were shut. To be fair, this is not the first time he was calling. "Whenever he roams around and gets network, whether on a hill or near a riverbed, he gives me a call, enquiring about when schools will reopen. Many of my students keep calling me with the same query," says 28-year-old director.
Shooting | (Pic: Maliput Offline)
When Sudhakar noticed this, he immediately thought of the idea that has now become Maliput Offline. This short film in Koraputia Desia dialect of Odia was released by Jeypore Film Company's YouTube channel JFC Movies just two weeks ago. It took the veteran scriptwriter till September 12 to develop the script for this little-over-19-minute film and only then the film was shot. The story is about a father who sells the family's beloved cow Laxmi and his livelihood, to buy a smartphone for his child. "This is the case with a lot of people in villages and we visited two to three villages to determine this. It is clearly a middle-class mentality to sell jewellery or even take huge loans for education or the wedding of their children. This film is a dramatisation of this," says the 56-year-old. Where there is no guarantee of network, parents are doing everything they can to buy digital devices for their children. "Where roads nor electricity have reached, when will network come?" wonders the scriptwriter who works as a Junior Accountant for the Forest Department of Odisha.
While the home scenes were shot in a village called Ekamba, the climax scene on the hill was shot on the way to Lamtaput, another village. Speaking about the climax scene (don't worry, no spoilers here!) it took them two weeks to shoot it owing to either too much sun or threatening rain. And now, the film is up for you to watch and understand the plight of our rural folk.