“GREEN BLACKBERRIES DISCOVERED THAT WHICH IS HIDDEN, SOMETHING THAT DOESN’T EXIST”
By Christal Ferrao
Green Blackberries (2020 )is a short multilingual film based in North East India which got selected for the Indian Panorama category. The film is titled Green Blackberries after a conversation between Prithvi Raj Dasgupta, the director of the film, and a wise man from the village. The village wise man informed that usually raw fruits are green, but berries that grow widely in the region are red. “Green blackberries discovered that which is hidden, something that doesn’t exist.” He used it as an oxymoron to show a contradiction in life. This is a multilingual film due to the region it represents. North East is a place of multiple languages and dialects, and hence it is a combination of Nepali, Assamese, and Bengali.
The film is about a teenage girl Nishu, who travels every day via the river and forests and fights her way through nature to attend school. “When I visited the North East I saw school students of tender ages six and seven walk and travel via boats for eight hours to reach school. I was disturbed by this and could not bear to imagine their misery. I was eager to portray this through a film, and I made Green Blackberries,” Prithvi Raj said as he informed The Peacock about the concept and reason for the film.
The plot revolves around the life of Nishu. She is a bright student in the village and unlike any other. She is the hope of the village, someone who can overcome all obstacles. The film focuses on her final exam and the way she fights against nature and society to challenge conventional norms. This film is for everyone and not restricted to a certain age group. The director wants people to understand the struggles of people living in the North East that are overlooked by filmmakers as it is not accessible. Struggles and issues of remote villages need attention. Mainstream cinema has not done much except for some like Nil Battey Sannata (2016). People celebrate the hills as an exotic region but seldom bother to know that sometimes one school has just one teacher who has just passed class ten and can barely pronounce the word banana. “I learnt more about the region as a documentary filmmaker for the Tribal Care Project,” Prithvi Raj said.
This is the first time his film has been selected for a film festival and he is delighted that it is IFFI, a festival of great stature. Previously, he has worked as an associate director and editor. All the members of the crew, their family and friends are proud of this achievement. He appreciates the efforts of his team, especially Gourav Roy, the director of photography. He shot the film using just two lenses.
The crew comprised four city residents and the cast was picked from amongst the locals. Being residents of the city, it was tedious for them to understand the geography of the region for filming. “The boats kept rolling in a strange way while the students lost their balance and fell frequently. We had to manage with a limited budget and resources, make do with one light and a torch as lighting. The film therefore took two years to shoot,” Prithvi Raj said.
Prithvi Raj wants people to focus on educating girls, rather than obsessing over getting them married at a tender age. He is in town to attend the screening along with Vaneeta Sridhar, the producer.