Published: 29th December 2017
Why you have to watch Nila Madhab Panda's climate change film Kadvi Hawa ASAP
Director Nila Madhab Panda has been helping us swallow the bitter pill of environmental calamities through his films. With his latest, Kadvi Hawa, he is at it again
It's been a little less than a month since Nila Madhab Panda's Kadvi Hawa released, one of the first mainstream movies that focuses on climate change. But we have been battling climate change for many years now and we are yet to care about it, feels Panda. “Look at what's happening in Delhi,” he urges us to think. The deadly smog is choking life as we know it in the capital of the country, which even briefly earned the distinction of becoming the most polluted city on Earth, last year. And then there are the sudden cyclones in Odisha and Kerala, "It's like the weather has declared war against mankind," he says. And as absurd as that sounds, it is partly true!
The reaction to the movie has been sterling, both from the critics and the audience. People have understood the importance of the film
Nila Madhab Panda, director
Best known for his film I am Kalam, Panda is not new to the havoc wreaked by nature as he has many documentaries to his credit, some of which he has shot for the Odisha government too. Two years after the super cyclone of 1999, which has been one of the most destructive ones in the North Indian Ocean, Panda made Hope Again, which was about the rehabilitation of the victims of the cyclone. "I saw that even after two years, the effects of the cyclone were still alive," he recalls. Many other gritty and hard-hitting films followed and that's when he decided that he needed to tell real stories. So, we get it when he says, "In many ways, this is a story I have been living with for many years."
Produced by Drishyam Films, the movie Kadvi Hawa runs for a duration of 99 minutes. It has bagged the the National Film Award in the Special Jury Award (feature film) category
And that is exactly what he tried to depict in this movie, which is based on true stories from drought-prone areas in India. He wanted to tell a real story where Sanjay Mishra, an old and blind farmer who is waging his own war against the dire state nature has left him in. With him is Ranvir Shorey, a rural bank's debt collector who is battling his own issues. It is when both their universe collide that the story takes an interesting turn. "It is all about survival of the fittest and it's no longer about money or career. They are struggling to survive against nature," he says, sadly adding that, "nature is doing to us today what we did to nature in the past."
Group op: The director with the cast and producers at the trailer launch
Best of times
But Panda grew up in a time when the relationship between man and nature had not degraded to the level it has now. Born to a farmer in Sonepur, Panda can go on for days if asked about his childhood memories. "I have been lucky to have grown up when the ecosystem and the cycles of nature were still intact," he says wistfully. When it rained, it rained for four months and they were well-equipped to make the best of it and grow seasonal fruits and vegetables. "We were experiencing the best of seasons then," he recalls. And though he grew up near River Mahanadi, there was no looming threat of dengue, viral infections or other such diseases which come with the monsoon nowadays. All this is the result of climate change, he concludes. "When man loses his harmony with nature, there can only be a serious disaster which reflects on our health, economy and everything else," says the director.
One of several of Panda's works includes Boondh. It is a film about the panchayat and gram sabha's involvement in community-based work in villages, which he shot for the Odisha government
Through his lens
And before the conversation turns more serious, just like the movie, we ask him about his earliest memories with the camera. He vaguely recalls an uncle who used to click black and white photos. The photographs used to make him marvel at the fact that he could keep them for life.
Sands of time: A moving still from the movie, Kadvi Hawa
Interestingly, Kadvi Hawa is a film shot on celluloid in the world of digital cameras — on a Super 16 mm Kodak to be exact. This did lend the visuals a grain, which Panda desired to establish the look of Chambal, Rajasthan, the region where they were shooting, but it brought along challenges when it came to editing. There was only one studio in Mumbai which could help with the processing of the movie, "and even they seemed like they were going to shut down soon because nobody makes movies on celluloid anymore." And as he concedes that the editing was difficult, he remains unsure if any other movie in the future will be made on celluloid.
Panda comes from a very humble family background, where he is the youngest of seven children. He founded Eleeanora Images, a multimedia production house that focuses on producing diverse films
And this was just one of the challenges the Padma Shri awardee faced. He wanted a place that is ruthless because those are the kind of visuals he wanted — cracked grounds, grainy air, rough winds and more. So, shooting in Chambal itself became a challenge. "Everything was a challenge, from shooting to the budget," he says. And over 30 days, and with a year and a half of prep work, Panda shot the movie.
Penning it: Lyricist and poet, Gulzar, was moved after watching Panda's directorial and wrote a poem titled Mausam Beghar Hone Lage Hai as a tribute to the film
From a society who loves entertainment to a society whose palate is evolving to accept movies like Kadvi Hawa, Panda says it is only to be expected because of the diverse platforms available now. "When you have multiple options for food, obviously your intake grows," reasons Panda. And the future of cinema, which is, after all, a reflection of the society, looks fantastic as per the director. So, with more movies dealing with tough topics, would it be safe to assume that society will be more conscious of climate change? Only time will tell. But what is real at this moment is climate change. "It's happening and it's real. It cannot be stopped. We need to take precautions against it," he concludes. And Kadvi Hawa is doing its bit.