The villagers who have lost their land and their problems still have not been adequately addressed. What I've read after watching this bewilderingly tragic film indicates the dam has been raised to its full height, clearly drowning out the village profiled. How incredible, that the wheels of progress are greased with the wills, hopes, and lives of those it crushes. And it is bewildering how blind the powerful can be, yet still look in the mirror and declare, "It's all just fine, no problem, everything is proceeding according to plan." I guess it's like power establishments the world over, and the people comprising them: Unless it's personally happening to you, it's not happening. The outcomes of the villagers and rural landholders would change in a heartbeat if old relatives of the political functionaries still lived off the land. Wouldn't change the outcome, I know with a sinking heart. THEY'D be taken care of, and rewarded with rich land somewhere, still leaving the powerless landholders without a hope. Their voices have been lost. Devastating and hard-hitting, this film stayed with me, and I ache for the families. Where are they? Where have they gone, now that their lifeline to the land is beneath the waves?
This documentary focuses on the plight of the villagers of Jalsindi on the banks of the Namrada River. The Namrada Dam Project is about to begin in this area and the villagers have been given three options by the Indian government - opt for resettlement, accept cash compensation, or move someplace else perhaps in the slum areas of this larger cities. Neither of the options are really fair as is later revealed - the resettlement project does not accommodate all of the villagers and the land allocated to those who qualify are not as fertile as the land on the banks of the Namrada. The cash compensation is also meager and insufficient to provide for the families in the long run - after all these villagers are Adivasis, the aboriginal people native to the area who have lived off the land for generations. How are these people to adapt to a different life?
I felt angry watching this because it was so clear that the government officials being interviewed had no real concern for the Adivasis, and were more interested in getting the job done, whatever the cost. The documentary presents the viewpoints of the Adivasis, the individuals and organizations supporting them, and the government officials. What emerges is the picture of big government bullying the native farmers into submission, knowing that the farmers are running out of time and options. There is no real resolution at the end of the documentary, but one can't help feel sad and sympathetic to the the plight of the Adivasis, a people whose old traditions and way of life will be threatened and perhaps lost forever once they are displaced.
Very good, if not quite great, this documentary about poor villagers being cruelly displaced by a massive dam project in India has some emotional and powerful moments.
There's no pretense of objectivity here - this is a film with a point of view, and it expresses it strongly.
The weak spots are a certain sense of repetition, and a back of the mind feeling that good and bad might be a bit more complex than shown here - we're asked to take some of the film's key assertions on face value, without question or rebuttal.
A powerful movie that I further reviewed on my blog at [...] For anyone concerned about water scarcity or social and environmental injustices, the plight of these people takes the cake. I also recommended this for use in a graduate school class while learning about the same topic. An easy to understand video that even my daughter, who is middle school, is watching, for a project.
Title: Drowned Out (2002) Starring: Nina Wadia Director: Franny Armstrong Format: DVD Review By: Diana Rohini LaVigne, Indian Life & Style Magazine
The scary reality of Indians living in the path of progression is brought to life by the expert talents of director Franny Armstrong. Rather than leave their home which is slated for destruction to make room for the newly created Narmada dam, they decide to stay and face being drowned by the rising waters. The filmmakers produce a well-balanced look at the dilemma and explore the difficult challenges faced by the region which includes police brutality, hunger strikes and an ongoing court case about this situation. As the river water rises, film viewers take a look at the horrific situation emerging day by day.
Drowned Out is a valuable film for understanding the down side to India's ever-growing obsession with dam building and brings up the finer reasons that dams are not only a solution, but also dams are a major problem. Drowned Out encourages viewers to take another look at the human side of dam building.
It was visually powerful and a compassionate look at those who suffer the most at the hands of the industrialization of the area. It is a film worth seeing many times!
I have read a considerable amount about the flooding of villages and farms in India for Hydropower Dams, but this documentary film was an unbelievably intimate experience with the people going through deciding whether or to re-locate or to stay on their lands as the waters rose. It is informative, moving - but not entertaining. I'd recommend it highly to anyone who cares to bear witness to lives we would otherwise never know of.