ee toh sona chhe (this is like gold only)
Makhana farming is a specialized and painstaking process practised by farmers of the Mallah community of North Bihar. A species similar to the lotus family, the fox nut plants are cultivated in ponds and their seed of are collected from the bottom of the lake. Through an elaborate process of popping by hand on high heat we get 'makhana' in a state which can be packed and sold. Despite health risks to them, makhana cultivators continue to follow this process. The conventional, gruesomely laborious process has the farmers and their families' lives revolving around it. Due to the seasonal nature of this process, these families live a migratory way of life and almost everybody in the family is involved in the process. In recent years, the demand for makhanas has gone up in urban India and government bodies have also attempted to promote the cultivation of the fox nut as a lucrative prospect for small farmers. As part of this endeavour, there have been attempts at creating a machine that can pop the seeds without the need for human intervention.This impending mechanisation, as yet unviable, is nevertheless, inevitable. And with it will change the processes of production, and the lives of the workers who have been doing the popping by hand for years, generations. In the face of these changes, ‘ek chot ka malik’ (master of the stroke)an observational piece takes a close yet non judgemental look at the intense physical labour that the workers undertake at various steps of production, through the production process. It follows the farmers as they get ready to dip into a pond, using traditional methods of extracting seeds and then goes into the domestic space of these farmers, where these seeds are popped to get makhanas.
by ujjwal utkarsh
cinmatography: prahlad gopakumar
sound design : mohandas v p
research : mamta gautam