5Q's w/Ashwini Kumar Bhat "Aghanashini" Director

THURSDAY | BLOCK A | 4:00 | 
Aghanashini (41 min) dir: Ashwini Kumar Bhat

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#1: Can you describe your movie and why somebody should see it in less than 280 characters

It is for those who want to see how a pure and free flowing river can nurture life of humans and other life forms along its path. Told in her own words, this is a story of one such river in India - “ Aghanashini ”, which in Sanskrit means ‘The Cleanser of Sins’.

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#2: What do you want the Borrego Springs Film Festival audience to know about your film that isn’t obvious from its title?

In an era where development is the mantra that everyone is chanting, India still holds a river that is left almost untouched! Aghanashini stands as a testimony for how a river can nurture life and influence culture, if left for flowing free.

The documentary covers the river from four different perspectives.

1. Origin and history of the river 2. Environment and rich biodiversity along the river. 3. Human dependency on the river. 4. Culture and rituals that have developed over time because of the river.

This film covers some of the very unique aspects of the river that is being discovered for the very first time. For instance, the presence of "Moonbow" in one of its waterfalls. Moonbow is a rainbow formed because of moonlight! This is the very first record of a moonbow from Asia! Similarly there are many untold stories of various facets of the river that is being told for the very first time to the outside world. We took more than two years to make this film. The film is funded by Crowd Funding and a grant from Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies.

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#3: What is your movie making background? Tell us about yourself.

This is my maiden feature documentary. I have been involved in making short documentaries over past five years. I am a part of a team - Landscape Wizards and from last several years we have been running a short documentary series (one per year) called Unseen Landscape, which focusses on throwing light on unseen aspects of Landscapes of India. While I have been a part of few of those short docs, Aghanashini is my first effort towards feature length.

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#4: What was the biggest lesson learned in getting your film made?

I have my ancestral roots in a village close to Aghanashini river bank. I have spent many summer holidays of my childhood playing in and around the river. But when I started visiting those places from the viewpoint of telling a story, all of them started looking differently. The same river, the same big rocks inside it, the same banks, the same people started giving new perspectives. The intricate relationships between the river and its surroundings slowly started to emerge. Understanding these intricate relationships via various stories that happen along the river and how to thread them to make a narrative story was our biggest learning from this film.

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#5: What does the future hold for your film and you?

We strongly believe in spreading the message of conservation through visual storytelling that are made with creative sense. Because people conserve only those things which they love. Unless we make people fall in love with Nature and its wonders, it would be very hard to convince them to conserve Nature for the future generations. We believe that Aghanashini w ill go a long way in that direction to make people more aware about the importance of saving a river and allow it to be in its Natural flow, as much as possible at least. Very very few people know about this river in India itself, let alone around the world!

We are screening this film at various schools and public institutions along the river basin to bring in more awareness in the young minds and general public. We are constantly getting very good feedbacks from the people who have watched the film in such screenings. Aghanashini was featured in this year’s Moving Water Film Festival in Bangalore, a festival that is focussed on screening documentaries related to water and its issues. This film is sent to the film festivals of over 20 countries and waiting for the response from them all. 

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