Published: 20th May 2020
This documentarian takes a look back at nature through a film shot entirely on her father's organic farm
Jahanvi Patel's 13-minute documentary was shot entirely on her father's farm where she tries to capture the magic and importance of organic farming
It was an unshakeable love for cinema that got Jahanvi Patel's heart pumping. Fresh out of college, the 22-year old decided to try her luck in Bollywood. But it was in vain. Disappointed to discover that her favourite industry was a fabricated exterior with little or no space for an independent artist, she decided to find her own way. She says, "I wanted to tell real stories. And having said that, I didn't want to follow the whole rat race of working in a big production house. This was why I chose documentaries as my medium. Unlike anything else, it tells the whole, unfiltered truth." It was a yearning to capture reality that beckoned her to make Family Farmer, a 13-minute documentary. And what's more real than mother nature herself? "My father is a businessman. A while ago, he had bought a farm 15 km away from our house to do some organic farming. As kids, we were just embarrassed about it. We could not figure out why he would do this when he had a proper day job! Now, I realise that I had this poor image of farmers in my head. They have always been perceived by our country as poor, pitiful and weak even though they are the very backbone of our economy."
When she realised that like her, many people looked down upon a profession that deserved all the praise in the world, she decided to show those who were out of touch with nature what farming was really about. Family Farmer captures the ins and outs of the tiny plot of land that her father owns, those who work there and the fruits and vegetables they are able to harvest. "This is my way of acknowledging all that farmers have done for us. A way of apologising for how I used to think of it. In fact, I used to believe that it was people who did not know how to do anything else who ended up working as farmers. We all have these misconceptions because we grow up in cities where we're torn away from life like this. This film speaks to why farming is one of the most intellectual professions," she says.
Jahanvi's film also attempts to speak about the changing agricultural industry. According to her research, 75% of farmers leave the profession to find other opportunities because of the growing use of chemicals in the trade. "Pesticides and chemicals have killed our farmers,' she says and hopes that this honest look at the profession will change the way people approach it and that it will make a difference from the grassroots level. Talking about the filming process, she says, "Making a film is as difficult as going to war. As an independent filmmaker, one doesn't have enough resources. I shot at my father's own farm in Rajkot and most of the crew members were from the same area." Due to the current restrictions, the team hopes to release the film digitally by the end of May.