Dhumkkudiya: A tale of shattered tribal dreams, set to pierce hearts at Cannes

·4-min read

By Namita Tewari Ranchi, June 27 (PTI) It is a tale of shattered dreams. A tale of horror experienced and lived out daily by thousands of tribal girls who are trafficked to big cities on false promises.

Dhumkkudiya - a Jharkhandi film, based on the true story of a 14 year old minor, will be screened at the prestigious 2021 Cannes Film Festival on July 12.

The director of the film, Nandlal Nayak, a Ford Scholar, folk artist, music composer and former Creative Director for United Colours of Benetton, says he is still haunted by the eyes of the girl on whose real life story he based his movie which has already picked up critical acclaim.

In an interview to PTI, Nayak says he slipped into depression on learning the story of the girl, who inspired the movie. She had run away from a Delhi Kothi' (brothel) in a posh locality after being sexually assaulted.

Dhumkkudiya, shot at pristine and virgin Jharkhand hinterland over 52 days has already won more than 60 prestigious awards in 84 countries.

After winning the American Institute of Indian Studies fellowship Nayak, son of Jharkhands well known folk artist Padmashri Mukund Nayak, had returned to his village to traditional tribal folk music sometime around 2003.

'I came to a village in Jharkhand to research and document tribal music... Hindustani music has an alphabetical order system as do other literate communities across the world but our (tribal) music has nothing like that. When I went to research this music of ours ... I saw this 14 year old girl.' 'Native village people used to come to hear my tales but this child was disinterested, disenchanted.I was intrigued by her silence...She was distracting, Nayak said He comforted her and slowly won her confidence. Finally she opened up and narrated her horrific tale of how she was trafficked and sexually abused before she could understand what was happening. Hearing her tale my entire world crashed like a pack of cards,' the director said.

He said after she concieved she was confined to a place and delivered the baby by herself in a bathroom and packed the child into a suitcase. Somehow she managed to escape by taking a train to Ranchi. She changed busses and finally walked several kilometers to reach her village.

'I decided to adopt her ... I went to the US for a few months and on my return came to know that she had been sold many times and raped more than 100 times before being killed.

I went into a depression and left my music research and decided to make a movie instead. I had (before this) worked with the best of movie directors, composers and celebrities, but no one came to support my project,' he said.

Nayak said he spent his entire saving of Rs 3.5 crore saving in making the movie but could not succeed.

'I had worked with top directors. I had directed Sonali Bose's film. I had worked with Resul Pookutty who got an Oscar. I had worked with contemporary music director Michael GalassoI but I learnt that when you talk about your existence no one stands with you. I completely failed.' He said the second attempt in 2010 was also a disaster and he slipped into another depression.

'Finally Sumit Agrawal came to my rescue and we made the movie. 30,000 girls were trafficked from Jharkhand in ten years in the name of domestic help. But this is not Jharkhand only. You see Bihar, Bengal, Odisha, North East, the tales are the same. Even in Italy I saw how girls from third world countries are forced into prostitution and here there are middlemen like Budhua who talk of Jal, Jangal and Jameen but his existence depends on consumer market of girls.' He said this film is the story of handicapped tribal mentality and every girl can relate to it as they suffer thinking it will come to an end.

'We adopted the village Lali. 15-20 km from Namkum in Ranchi and cast 1,200 people who didn't have any exposure to cameras. I converted the village into a studio. The heroine had no previous exposure to the camera but gave a powerful performance,' he said.

The character of the protagonist in the film is played by Rinkal Kacchap and that of the antagonist by Pradhuman Nayak.

Rupesh Kumar, is the director of photography.

Apart from Pradhuman Nayak, an alumni of the prestigious National School of Drama and Rinkal Kachhap, the cast includes Rajesh Jaish, Subrat dutta, Vinod Anand and Gita Guha all renowned artists from National School of Drama.

The film is produced by Sumit Agarwal and Nandlal Nayak.

'The penetrating eyes of the minor Rishu portrayed by Rinkal Katchhap in the movie, her pain, her ordeal and her silence still rips my heart,' said Nayak, adding that he would find some solace if his film 'encourages bringing in stricter laws to regulate employment of tribal girls, to safeguard them from the horrific exploitation many of them are still being subjected to.' PTI NAM JRC JRC

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