12 minutes of Going Green: Notes from a Green City

The UKEFF 2010 gave me the wonderful opportunity to make a 12-minute film on ‘Climate Change Mitigation in Urban Areas’ – a topic very close to my heart. Most of my films in the past focused on green innovations in the industry sector or in rural areas. To make a film on green interventions in Surat, India’s ninth largest city, was a new challenge I was eagerly looking forward to in the beginning of January 2010. The film was completed in May 2010. The months in between were an exhilarating roller coaster ride. Some of the highs – the thrill of interacting with people in Surat, especially in the municipal corporation and the industry, to understand and visualize the stories, the willing cooperation and enthusiasm of everyone in the city to help with the film, the amazing connectedness of people of Surat – where everyone knows everyone and is just a phone call away, the joy of being in a city that seemed to be doing many things right and of course the food! Having lived in Gujarat for many years, I have grown to love ‘Gujju’ food, even as many of my friends and colleagues cannot fathom how can ‘dal’ be sweet.

Crucial to shaping the film, after the filming was over, were the feedback sessions by the jury of the British Council. To have the film continually assessed by an external audience at every stage of its creation was both new and useful for me. Encouraging, full of ideas (all totally divergent at times!), bringing in new dimensions to the subject, the jury’s feedback would get our heads buzzing and even go numb. The trick was to go back to the drawing board each time and test each idea against the overall theme of the film and see if the idea enhanced the film. I am very grateful for those feedback sessions, as they helped me integrate small details that made my film richer.

The final stage was going public – thanks to the British Council’s active efforts at getting the film ‘seen’. With a TV broadcast, simultaneous screenings in various cities on the World Environment Day and the newspaper publicity, I suddenly got a wee bit nervous as it made me realize how a film takes on a life of its own once it is out there for the audience. The excited phone calls and sms-es made me heave a sigh of relief -  “Congrats”, “I think it could do without the graphics”, “Thank you for making me famous – my cousin in Australia saw me on TV”, “I liked the last shot in your film”… As the voices trail off, it feels nice to have made a film which has been seen by many, on a topic that matters to each one of us and. As for me, I now look at every city with fresh eyes – does it have an organized system of garbage collection? Does it have public transport? Does the city do PPP (Public Private Partnerships)? And wish for more stories of urban India to unfold.

Post by – © Madhyama Subramanian.

Madhyama

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