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National Geographic premieres short films by film-makers on Hotstar

MUMBAI: One week after the launch of the National Geographic Mission Blue initiative that aims to spread awareness and inspire change for the cause of water conservation, the brand has unveiled content specially created by Indian film-makers.

Imtiaz Ali, Hansal Mehta, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury and Madhur Bhandarkar have joined hands with National Geographic to spread this important message through short films. Each film is the film-maker’s personal take on the water crisis. The films were released on 28 April on Hotstar and National Geographic’s digital platforms.

Swati Mohan, Business Head, FOX International Channels (India)National Geographic, Fox Networks Group business head India Swati Mohan said, “After introducing a variety of innovative storytelling formats over the past few months—from docu-drama to scripted series, National Geographic has made a foray into scripted short films as part of its ‘Mission Blue’ initiative. We are thrilled to have exceptionally talented film-makers on board who have come together to help deliver the message and inspire change.”

Hansal Mehta said, “As film-makers, we need to have stories that are engaging. When this opportunity (of short films on water conservation) came to me, I was keen on doing. My son Jai is making his debut as a director with the movie titled ‘PaaniPath’ and I am very proud of the outcome and the fact that Jai chose to debut with such an important theme. To see that the new generation is sensitive about this issue fills me with hope. I am thankful to National Geographic for giving us this platform to present this important issue to the world. ”

Inspired by true events, ‘PaaniPath’ confronts the disturbing reality of a water crisis through the victims of a flawed and politicised water management system.

Imtiaz Ali, who has written and conceptualised ‘Paani Panchayat’, said he has a personal connect with this cause as his father has spent his life working on water irrigation projects in rural India.

“I have seen him working in villages and remote rural areas. I was brought up hearing stories of the importance of water in life. The concept of ‘Paani Panchayat’ is something that happened in my father’s life. I felt this was the best way of reaching out to more people through the esteemed platform of National Geographic.”

Set in a remote village of Bitapur, ‘Paani Panchayat’ is about how a group of women come together to end the hegemony of the water pump operator. In the contemporary world, this simple film emphatically reiterates the fact that one who controls the water controls the world (howsoever small it may be).

Aniruddha Roy Chaudhary, who has made a short film titled ‘Baiju’, said, “People love to watch any film which is engaging, entertaining and informative, and we hope through this film people will understand the message that we want to convey. I would like thank National Geographic for giving me such an opportunity to tell a story on the current water situation.”

In the film, a strange disease has rendered Baiju, a seven-year old kid in a remote village, almost bed-ridden. Bulli is the only guy who comes stealthily to give company to Baiju. Bulli informs him that the village is now in the grip of a severe drought, and the only well which is functioning properly is Sarpanch Raghuramji’s, where the poor people are not allowed to draw water. The story shows how Bulli gets the ‘mitha paani’ which is now so rare in the village.

Madhur Bhandarkar has mentored Anand Kumar for the short film titled ‘Ek Balti Paani’. Bhandarkar said, “I am glad to be associated with a great platform such as National Geographic. I was thrilled to know that National Geographic is getting into the mainstream with such a cause. Be it short or feature film, if the story is good, it will make an impact. Water is a vital issue and the idea is to connect with people globally on this issue through these films.”

‘Ek Balti Paani’ is set in an upper-middle-class home and narrated by Bhandarkar. The story paints a futuristic scenario where water has become a rare commodity and frugality has attained a new meaning altogether.

Fans can log in to www.hotstar.com/tv/mission-blue/13924 to watch the movies and take a pledge to save water.