Amlan Datta’s recent film ‘Bom – aka One Day Ahead of Democracy’ has been awarded the National Award for the Best Ethnographic/ Anthropological Film. Amlan went to the Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF) with a request to allow Rajkumari (9) and Rajesh (7), to represent the film on stage during the awards presentation. Rajkumari and Rajesh are closely related to the film and the community which the film depicts. However, when Amlan’s request for their representation was turned down, he requested for them to be allowed to accompany him during the awards presentation. He was told once again that it was against the protocol. Finally he made an appeal to the President of India to allow the two children to accompany Amlan and receive the award. Following is the text of Amlan’s appeal.
H.E. Smt.Pratibha Devisingh Patil,
President of India,
Sub: Request to have two children (characters of the film) belonging to a unique ancient civilization to accompany the director on stage for the 59th National Film Awards ceremony
Hon’ble Mrs. President,
I am a humble citizen of this country named Shri Amlan Datta, a resident of Kolkata and an independent filmmaker by profession. It has been my honour to receive the prestigious National Film Awards twice from you in the recent past, viz. The Special Jury Award in 2007 and the National Film Award for the Best Environment Film in 2009. It has also been an honour for me to serve as a jury member for the 58th National Film Awards last year.
It is my pleasure to inform you that this year, once again, I have been honoured to receive from you the National Film Award for the Best Ethnographic/ Anthropological Film for my documentary BOM aka ‘One day ahead of Democracy’. This film is based on a remote mountain village called Malana in Himachal Pradesh inhabited by a pre-Aryan community speaking a near-extinct language ‘Kanashi’ presumably that of the mythical Rakshashas. Hidden in the mountains of Himalayas Malana used to be a self-sufficient Republic even after India earned independence. In the last few decades invasion of modern world destroyed their nature-friendly self-sufficient existence, obliterated their age-old practice, their unique democracy of consensus and annihilated their accumulated wisdom, their trust.
Going beyond filmmaking I have been running this non-profit organization Bom-Bom Charitable Trust trying to provide a positive interface to integrate this unique community to the mainstream. The objective is to provide for them sustainability by utilizing their natural resources and traditional wisdom as well as preservation and revitalization of their language and culture. I even adopted two children from the village, Rajkumari and Rajesh whose tragic life story is also a part of the film. For the last two years Bom-Bom has been looking after their education and well-being. Nine-year-old Rajkumari is not just the face of the film but metaphorically the Princess of Malana is also the hope of the community.
I hereby humbly request you to allow these two angels Rajkumari & Rajesh to accompany me on stage to receive this prestigious award from you. This award is for the people of Malana and may I beseech you to kindly allow a representation from them in their moment of glory. This gift from you would not only boost the morals of this ancient community in their process of social integration but also remain as an exemplary and unprecedented act of humanity from the highest authority of the state.
In the prelude of the film it was stated that this film is to be taken to The President. A film about ‘democracy’ that speaks about the discontent of the citizen of India must reach you, The President of the world’s largest democracy. And I would also like to seek an opportunity to present the film to you.
I, along with the democratic citizens of Malana would be deeply obliged if you would kindly grant our humble wishes.
Kind Regards and happiness
9th April 2012 New Delhi