Rivers in Cinema

Continuing the celebration of Godavari Dussehra, let us today explore the ‘Rivers in Cinema.’

The visual medium of expression, in today’s digital age, plays an important role in shaping our conscience. Hence today, instead of writing about ‘Rivers in Cinema’, I have compiled a list documentaries/short films/films which highlight culture, literature, economics, politics, modernization, globalization, and many more human interventions that are inter-related and intertwined with the rivers.

In Indian Context

  1. The River (1951, 99mins, English & Hindi, Directed by Jean Renoir): Filmed in the backdrop of Ganges in Bengal and life around the river, this film is an adoption of the literary work titled ‘The River’ by Rumer Godden. It revolves around the lives of three girls. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Npi1jLkvRtI
  1. Benefits of Bhakra Nangal (1955, 11mins, English, Directed by K. L. Khandpur, Produced by Mohan Bhavnani): This film celebrates the construction of Bhakra Nangal Dam which was considered a symbol of modernity under the leadership the late Prime Minister of Jawaharlal Nehru, who described such infrastructural development as ‘new temple of modern India.’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2YrZAuc9Fs
  1. Titash Ekti Nadir Naam / A River Called Titas (1973, 156mins, Bengali, Directed by Ritwik Ghatak): Picturized along the Titas River in the pre-partition East Bengal, the film revolves around the life of a fisherman living along the banks of Titas. It is an adaptation of the autobiographical novel by Advaita Malla Barman. River is being utilized as a narrator, a character, and also as a metaphor. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Mku90VzJ0s
  1. Liquid Borders (2015, 39mins, with English Subtitles, Directed by Barnali Ray Shukla): This documentary attempts explore the geographical and political boundaries along with the ignored aspect of emotional embeddedness. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJW4IJwnWEk
  1. Masaan / Crematorium (2015, 109mins, Hindi, Directed by Neeraj Ghayvan): This movie revolves around the lives of three residents of Varanasi, against the backdrop of the ghats of the Ganges. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVZzYa0MxM8
  1. Holy (Un)holy River (2016, 60mins, English, Directed by Peter McBride, Jake Norton): Following one of the most revered rivers of India, the Ganges, the film-makers document the beauty and struggles of the river throughout its course. https://www.holyunholyriver.com/
  1. Aghanashini (2017, 41mins, Engish, Directed by Ashwini Kumar Bhat): This is a documentary about a river of Western Ghats called Aghanashini, which is untouched in this age of development. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzUOTTgFQEs&feature=youtu.be
  1. Small Dams, Big Problems (2017, 11mins, English): A short film on the rising concerns of small hydropower projects (SHPs) in India. While SHPs are touted as clean green energy projects, science questions otherwise. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LqdOwYmFwU
  1. The Yamuna, India’s most polluted river (2017, 10mins, English, Documentary by Guardian): Guardian India correspondent Michael Safi takes a journey along the Yamuna river. Stretching 855 miles (1,375km) across the north of the country, at its source in the Himalayas its water is crystal clear. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHCaIvPN2rY
  1. Cry of a River: The Trouble with India’s Toilets and Drinking Water (2017, 25mins, English, Directed by Natalya Kadyrova): This documentary brings in a new perspective of looking at the plights of Ganga, and the rivers in general. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17DE2krqQMg
  1. Dashakriya (2017, 137mins, Marathi, Directed by Sandeep Bhalachandra Patil): This movie narrates the social realities about the death rituals in the backdrop of Godavari at Paithan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZwlymMjolg

In Global Context

  1. The Strong People: The Return of a River, The Rebirth of a People (2013, 46mins, English, Produced By: Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation): This documentary chronicles the largest dam removal project in US history on the Elwha River in Olympic Peninsula, Washington. http://thestrongpeople.com/
  1. RiverBlue (2016, 94mins, English, Directed by: David McIlvride, Roger Williams): This documentary unveils the hidden truths of fashion industry. http://riverbluethemovie.eco/

So, this was rivers through the lens of filmography, set in different contexts and narrating stories along the rivers and of the rivers. Let us meet again tomorrow with a different outlook.

-Shilpa Dahake | Facebook

* The facts and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author.

News Reporter
I am an architect turned anthropologist. After finishing my Masters in Anthropology from University of Pune, I was working with Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune under a project funded by UNICEF and Integrated Child Development Scheme, Government of Maharashtra. During which I was stationed in Nandurbar District of Maharashtra (which is predominantly a tribal region) as a Field Research officer. Currently, I am a doctoral candidate in Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Mohali, India. My current research explores the interaction of the cultural-religious, the political-economic and the ecological dimensions of the river in Nashik city in Maharashtra. Broadly, investigating how the multiple perspectives of a natural resource overlap, contradict, challenge and support each other, thus shaping the urban landscape and producing socio-spatial inequalities.

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