Kokborok feature film on displacement in Tripura

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Agartala, Sep 4 (UNI) The plight of the Kokborok tribes, dislocated from their ancestral home since the past three decades owing to the construction of the Dumbur hydel project in South Tripura, has been poignantly depicted in a feature film of the indigenous dialect.

Don Bosco Sampari Pictures, a premiere academic film production unit on tribal life, has come out with ''Yarwng'' (Root), a 95-minute feature film on internal displacement in the Kokborok dialect with subtitles in English.

State Forest Minister Jitendra Choudhury formally released the film here today in presence of state Culture Minister Anil Sarkar and Tribal Welfare Minister Aghore Debbarmma and wished the movie would attract appreciation from both national and international critics for its subject matter and presentation.

''Yarwng'' features the story of the tender romance between Karmati and Wakhirai (a tribal couple), but just when the relation promised to flower and bear fruit, the hydel power project sweeps away the dream of the pair and leads to socio-economic unrest.

''The film is about how a just-completed hydel project submerges the future of the villagers of the particular area, besides Karmati and Wakhirai, the lead pair,'' Producer Father K J Joseph told UNI here today.

Not only the lead couple, the movie also narrates the predicament of Chokdri (the village headman), Ochai (village priest) and Agurai (a shopkeeper).

The Chokdri, not used to taking orders, must now yield to the orders from above and vacate his home, even as he has the added responsibility of his daughter's marriage preparations.

Similarly, Ochai, after placating the Gods and fulfilling his obligations, must now walk away from home with his ailing wife clinging to his arms while Agurai's shop, which used to be the hub of lively discussions, gradually becomes silent and empty.

''On the eve of Karmati and Wakhirai's marriage, the newly-built dam submerges the entire village and separates the lovers forever,'' Father Joseph said, elaborating the story of the film.

About 80,000 tribals were ousted in 1976 when the Dumbur hydel project was commissioned and a 30-metre high gravity dam was constructed across river Gumati, about 3.5 km upstream of South Tripura, which submerged a valley area of 46.34 sq km for generating 8.60 MW power from an installed capacity of 10 MW.

Unfortunately, about 60 per cent of the displaced tribes have not yet been rehabilitated by the government and most of them were compelled to settle in the hill ranges and continue their struggle for survival through Jhum cultivation.

The lead female actor, Meena Debbarma, also has the distinction of winning an award in the Indian Panorama of international film festival of India for her performance in ''Mathia'' in 2005.

''The story of Yarwng has been set in the backdrop of the Gumati hydel project and the trauma of displacement and its aftermath provides the human drama that unfolds in the lives of the characters. The film is based on the real narratives of the people,'' Ms Debbarmma said.

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