Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:August 19th, 2009 12:16 EST
Candid Videos Ushering in a Silent Revolution

Candid Videos Ushering in a Silent Revolution

By Devinder Sharma

A quiet revolution is taking place in some parts of the India and I hope that it sweeps the country and takes on that force and power that it cannot be resisted as nature of genuine revolutions is. When revolutions become of the mind then they are beyond their beginnings and the activities creating it. I am talking about the community video revolution that is finding its expression across Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan where there are over 100 video producers and in a small way it is rearing its head in UP and Bihar also. These states comprise 70 % of the land mass and 55 % of the population of the country.

It is about domestic servants, casual laborers, farmers, rickshaw pullers, school teachers and the like who provide a real service but ignored by the middle class and for the upper class it may not exist. This is the experiment for which the starting energy came from Jessica Mayberry a former New York TV journalist who spends half her time in India inspiring video producers mostly with little or no education and the other half of her time in the US. This is what brings people closer not the formal treaties and diplomatic exchanges.

This is an extraordinary revolution which I would like to call a sociological venture that started in 2006 and today it is estimated that at least one video film is made today somewhere in these states every day. They are shown on local cable TV and small time clandestine TV stations of limited range and talks are on to burn them on CD`s. These films capture the ordinary lives of these so called lowly people and their problems no one is interested in or looking at them as if they were real people. They are uneducated and this makes it more poignant that they never had the opportunity to speak a few years ago but today they have found their voice in a most telling manner.

The movement gained strength when some prominent NGO`s threw their weight behind them which deflected some of the harassment and interference of the people against whom these video`s were directed. If it was not for them this budding movement would nor have survived the three years it began and would have had a still birth. A NGO called Video Volunteers have taken up their cause and frequently run training programs to train video producers, directors and photographers and Jessica is behind them. It is estimated that there are 50 illiterate producers and the life of some has changed and in their constituencies they are heroes and lionized. Some enterprising ones move in villages or small towns motivating more to join and fight for equality and justice.

These photographers armed with handy cams on bicycles are no longer scared and shy but have learnt the tricks to produce videos to expose the corrupt practices of the local bureaucrat, the politician and the petty trader. The films they make are naturally on topics that concern them like no or bad roads, urinal facilities, adulteration, petty graft, food, health problems, misuse of government or local funds, agricultural problems, against transgenic food etc.

There is reason to believe that the movement has taken roots and it will not be easy to wipe it out. It now needs the support and backing of thinking people and mainstream media for it grow and over the years and change the very meaning of governance and dignity of the marginalized and thereby usher a sociological revolution and give meaning to inclusive development and governance that the current Man Mohan Singh government is crowing about.