Our Indian Adventure
Bright Blue Media's Dan Coomber has recently returned from India where he and Goram & Vincent Producer Ben White were producing some video footage for Oblong Films. Here is the tale of some of their experiences.
Click here see pictures of our filming trip.
As soon as we leave Guwahati airport in North Eastern India the chaos begins. Car lights breakthrough the dusty darkness in thick beams, as the sound of car horns merge into one monotonous drone. With the windows down, the warm air quickly fills the car with the smell of incense as our driver dodges cows and the occasional pig who wander quite happily across the dual carriageway. Motorbikes whizz by with whole families on and buses filled with people, inside and out, overtake us as we speed towards our hotel in the centre of Guwahati. The assault on the senses takes your breath away. Shanty huts line the route selling their wares as an exodus of people move along the edge of this main road. We check our phones but there's no signal to be found. Delhi was busy but this is an whole other level again. We eventually arrive at out hotel weary and dazed hoping a good nights sleep will clear our heads.
Our first day of filming starts bright and early. The amazing smell of curry drifts from the buffet breakfast table. Ben checks out the offering but eventually decides on a couple of boiled eggs and a chapati. I go for the rather conservative warm milk and something that resembles cereal choice. The breakfast biryani looks great but it’s a little too early in the day for curry and we are going to be filming in some rural places and my mind wanders on to my toileting options! After breakfast we set off with our Chaperones into the city. Today seems a little less crazy on the roads than the previous night but we are still dodging rickshaws, cows and cyclists. In India the horn appears to be as important as the brake and accelerator. Our driver sits with one hand on it, giving a warning to every car we miraculously just squeeze by. Everything you have ever learnt about driving goes out of the window here!
As we cross the vast Brahmaputra River and leave the city of Guwahati behind the road deteriorates into a dirt track then back to road before finally becoming the dusty potholed paths that we become accustomed to over the next 5 days. It’s a long trip to all of the places we are filming so the car is going to become our second home.
The next few days take us to some incredibly rural places. Paddy fields stretch into the distance with farmers hand planting rice before the monsoon season arrives. The weather is muggy and everywhere we film we attract a crowd of people fascinated, not only by the kit, but by our western appearance that is obviously pretty rare in these parts. The villagers are all incredibly warm and hospitable, inviting us into their meagre bamboo and mud accommodation and insisting we share a snack and a warm cup of tea or milk with them. The purpose of this project is to ensure food security for these people and to enable them to have a better life. The project is very clever, it introduces the villagers to new more productive methods of farming which in turn have made them more money, enabling them to send their children to school and eat more than one meal in a day. But as one man tells us, more important than the money is the feeling of empowerment the project has given him and the villagers. This for me, makes the sharing of their food an incredibly kind gesture that leaves us humbled.
Over the next week we film everything from rice planting to cage fishing. Every villager we meet is eager to tell us about how the project has helped them and how the techniques they have learnt will be passed down for generations to come. That’s the nice thing about this project, although it is coming to an end, its work is done. These people have learned new ways to farm. They have appointed local service providers from within their villages and have created a group to sell their produce more efficiently and command better fairer prices for themselves. They are now in control of their destiny.
As we fly back to Delhi we can’t help but feel slightly embarrassed about the stresses and worries of our daily lives. They all of a sudden feel very trivial and ludicrous in comparision as these people are literally working to put food in their mouths.
As we land, I switch on my phone. A full signal appears.