Filmmaker Nila Madhab Panda unveiled the first look of his highly-anticipated next, Kadvi Hawa, India’s first full-length feature film on climate change, last week in Delhi. The event was attended by the whole team behind the film, as well as by dignitaries from the United Nations.
The film’s poster was unveiled in the presence of the United Nation Environment Programme’s (UNEP) general and executive director, Erik Solheim at the Foreign Correspondents Club of South Asia in Delhi. Underlining the need for filmmakers to take it upon themselves to create awareness about climate change, Solhiem also advocated the idea that the United Nations ought to supporting more films like Kadvi Hawa globally.
He said, “People feel the way we talk about the environment is too boring. An entertaining film is a great medium to spread the message about climate change… You need to entertain, make people enthusiastic, and excite people. And that’s what Hollywood and Bollywood do.”
Touted as the first full-length feature film to be supported by the UN, Kadvi Hawa is slated for a pan-India release on 24 November.
The film revolves around a 70-year-old blind man (Sanjay Mishra) who is alone fighting climate change to save his son. Set against the backdrop of an arid region of Bundelkhand (divided between Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh), the film has already received a special mention at the 64th National Awards.
Speaking about the film, Panda, known for his critically-acclaimed movie I Am Kalam, said, “I want to deal with climate change in a very conscious manner and I want people to feel that climate change is here and it is affecting all of us and not just the elite.”
As far as offering a solution through the medium is concerned, the 43-year-old director declared, “I am nobody to give solutions. All we can do is get conscious. Whatever you have done, you have done. You cannot undo that. All we can do is that not damage the environment anymore.
“We want the film to live. You remember my first film I Am Kalam. Even after seven years, people talk about it because it is only about a short story. Kadvi Hawa is a simple, emotional story about a 70-year-old blind man fighting against climate change to save his son. We want to put it forward to the world as an emotional story.”
While addressing the media, Panda, who himself hails from Odisha, one of the most drought-prone regions of the country, also threw light on the inception of the story. He revealed that the story idea struck him when he was shooting a documentary for Discovery Channel in 2005 in the state.
“On its (Odisha’s) coastal belt there used to be seven villages, together called Satbhaya. When I reached there in 2005, only two villages were left. The first image that I saw was shocking. Not romanticising about it or being happy about it, but there were two hand pumps and both of them were submerged under the sea. When I started enquiring about the issue from people belonging to the age group of 60-70, one of the older men said that the hand pump earlier used to be a part of their village. They used to play around the hand pump,” he informed.
Panda also shared with the press the special campaign he is going to kick-start for the film’s promotion. He said, “Also, the campaign we are doing is interesting. Of course, we have announced the release date but it is quite far. It is a four-month campaign which we are doing with a bottom-up approach. We are trying to reach out everywhere, even Panchayats, to talk about the film. Also, the way we are doing the campaign is quite interesting. We are also doing a massive Oscar lobbying. Also, there are many corporate, CSRs, banks and we are trying to bring everybody to be a part of the film and do their own bit for the campaign… The agenda is to reach out to every sector.”
He further added: “We have selected 30 cities across the country and in 30 cities we have appointed two people to reach out to schools, colleges, political parties and other such groups. And then those two people will take the campaign to the Panchayats and will talk about the film. We are reaching out to every Chief Minister… I want the film to live on.”
Sanjay Mishra, who plays the protagonist and features on the film’s poster, was also present at the high-profile launch event.
“We are trying to reach out everywhere, even Panchayats, to talk about the film. Also, there are many corporate, CSRs, banks and we are trying to bring everybody to be a part of the film and do their own bit for the campaign. The agenda is to reach out to every sector.”
Speaking on climate change and his character in the film, the Office Office star said, “I am very fortunate that Panda Sahab selected me for the role. You’d later see how legit that decision was… There is a possibility of losing everything in the world but losing a season is very dangerous… We will need to think about it, we all need to think about it.”
“Art has always been seen as the mirror of society. Cinema is a mirror to society,” he continued as he laid stress on the need for bringing burning issues like that of climate change to the mainstream through cinema.
Ranvir Shorey, who would be seen playing the antagonist in the film, also addressed the press during the launch event.
Expressing gratitude to his director for the script, the 44-year-old actor said that he always tries to be a part of the stories that are more interesting than the themes that they represent.
About his character in the project, the actor revealed, “I play a loan recovery agent, who is dubbed as Yamdoot. So I play that part and I knew that it was for the larger good so I didn’t mind being the
Shorey also took the opportunity to urge citizens globally to be more responsible and treat climate change as a personal issue.
“We are at a time where action is needed now but unfortunately at the same time there is so much happening in global politics that there is a tendency for climate change to take a backseat whether there are questions on economy, where there are questions on terrorism, whether there are questions on job creation, everywhere in the world and the US is the prime example now where this has actually happened. I am grateful that our Prime Minister has not joined that bandwagon and a lot other global leaders have not.”
He continued, “So as a citizen to citizen, I would ask every global citizen to watch out for this phenomenon, which is when the absolute time comes to act for climate change suddenly that subject becomes obfuscated by politicians and seemingly more important questions are put in front, like job creation, economy: things which hit an individual lot more than a universal issue like climate change. So when we vote or support our leaders, we must take into account that climate change is as personal as your job, as important as you being part of the economy.”