The year 2023 has been most rewarding for PARI’s film’s division - videos, documentaries, short clips and feature films on people in rural India.

As an online journal, we encourage films that take a hard look at news and events around us. Our film on Madrasa Azizia in Bihar examined the aftermath of the communally-inspired burning of a 113-year-old library in Biharsharif town of Bihar. Our film on renewable energy taking over sacred groves - orans – in Jaisalmer district challenged the categorisation of these scrub forests as ‘wasteland’ to be handed over to solar and wind energy plants.

We started the year with a lilting love song by an Adivasi buffalo herder on the Brahmaputra in Assam. Through the year we continued to add songs and dances from different parts of the country like West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Rajasthan and others.

And we are ending the year with a film on PARI’s Grindmill Songs Project – documenting the journey of this phenomenal body of work spanning decades.

This year we added an important film, Worth that brings the voices of women waste collectors in Pune who ask the question, “if you are generating waste, how are we ‘kachrewali [‘waste women’]?” And among our films on the impact of changing climate we published Alphonso mango , its growers distressed by unseasonal weather.

Through the year, we have been adding to our archive of films on communities: This film on Ugadi celebrations in Medapuram by people from the Madiga community brought alive the sound and colour of a new Dalit tradition. This long film on the struggling art of Tholpavakoothu done by different castes and communities in the Malabar region tells multi cultural stories using shadow puppetry.  And from the neighbouring state of Karnataka, the life of a Nadaswaram player who is a crucial part of Bhuta worship in Tulunadu is richly detailed. The almost lost wax-casting technique to make metal figures – Dokra - is captured in this film from West Bengal.

Do watch these films!

In memory of Madrasa Azizia

In Biharsharif, a 113-year-old madrasa and its library of over 4,000 books was set on fire by rioters.

MAY 12, 2023 | Shreya Katyayini

A fight to save orans

Solar and wind energy outfits are steadily encroaching upon Rajasthan’s orans – sacred groves set in grasslands which are mis-categorised as ‘wastelands’ in government records. Their rapidly growing presence is drastically changing the ecology and livelihoods.

JULY 25, 2023 | Urja

A buffalo herder sings a love song

Satyajit Morang is from the Mising tribe in Assam. In this video he sings a love song in the Oinitom style, and talks about herding buffaloes on the islands formed in the Brahmaputra river.

JAN. 2, 2023 | Himanshu Chutia Saikia

Songs from the kitchens of rural India

Over a 100,000 songs and more than 3,000 performers spread across hundreds of villages, the Grindmill Songs Project (GSP) is a phenomenal effort to capture the voices of ordinary women – farmers, labourers, fisherfolk, but also daughters, wives, mothers and sisters as they sing the songs of the stone mill – 'jatyavarchya ovya'. A PARI documentary on GSP’s poetic legacy and it’s genesis.

DEC. 7, 2023 | PARI Team

Worth | मोल

On October 2, Swachh Bharat Diwas, a film on women waste collectors in Pune.

OCT. 2, 2023 | Kavita Carneiro

Alphonso’s reign is running out

In Maharashtra’s Konkan region, farmers are worried about the sharp decline in alphonso mango harvests.

OCT. 13, 2023 | Jaysing Chavan

Ugadi in Medapuram: Tradition, Power and Identity

The annual Ugadi festival in Andhra Pradesh's Medapuram is a grand affair, organised by the Madiga community who brought the idol to their town.

OCT. 27, 2023 | Naga Charan

Tales from the shadows: tholpavakoothu puppetry of Malabar

A film about shadow puppet theatre in the villages of the Malabar region of Kerala.

MAY 29, 2023 | Sangeeth Sankar

Bhutas of Tulunadu

In this region of Karnataka that lies on the coast of the Arabian Sea, different communities come together for bhuta worship. A film on the heritage of Syed Nasir and his musical troupe who perform at these rituals.

APRIL 26, 2023 | Faisal Ahmed

Dokra: the art of transformation

Pijush Mondal makes metal figures using the lost-wax casting technique. The skilled Dokra artisan is worried about raw materials and climate which are crucial to the process

AUG. 26, 2023 | Sreyashi Paul

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Shreya Katyayini

Shreya Katyayini is a filmmaker and Senior Video Editor at the People's Archive of Rural India. She also illustrates for PARI.

Other stories by Shreya Katyayini
Sinchita Maji

Sinchita Maji is a Senior Video Editor at the People’s Archive of Rural India, and a freelance photographer and documentary filmmaker.

Other stories by Sinchita Maji

Urja is Senior Assistant Editor - Video at the People’s Archive of Rural India. A documentary filmmaker, she is interested in covering crafts, livelihoods and the environment. Urja also works with PARI's social media team.

Other stories by Urja