|Participant at the Painting Competition organized by Babul Films on the Occasion of Earth Hour 2013. Photography by Bhavana Nissima|
Who is this Gangadhar? We bussed our way down to the outskirts, and took an auto for the last mile. Much of habitation, both affordable and high end, now implies places which are not serviced by public transport. We walked into the community we were supposed to reach, and looked out for Babul Films. We were met by Renu, the man behind the man, as she bustled around managing more than two dozen kids in the basement of an apartment. She led us to where Gangadhar was struggling with stubborn wiring to set up the screening area. We soon realized that Babul Films was really a one-man army. Two-man actually, since Renu’s contribution to this movement is as critical as Gangadhar’s. Later we learned that after they packed up the event for the evening, they needed to pack up their home, since they were moving to a more accessible location the next morning! Then I figured out a possible explanation for the name of their endeavor; it was a misspelling of Bubble Films, since the two of them were constantly bubbling with enthusiasm about their role in creating a better world.
We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening participating in the event, which was so straightforward that the mainstream media would have refused to cover it anyway (it did find mention in a couple of newspapers). A painting competition on Global Warming, a couple of films on environment and biodiversity, a handout listing basic steps one can take in daily life to be kind to the planet, and a candle march for the kids. It was only on our way back home that Gangadhar started talking about what he was doing. As we listened to him, we were filled with admiration and hope. I believe all of us need to know that such people, such endeavors exist, and do all that we can to support them.
How did he get to where he now is? Gangadhar was always keenly interested in doing what he could for the environment. He needed a job, so he found himself one. He also started essaying character roles in Telugu films. He worked just long enough so that he could qualify for a pension, and quit his job to set up Babul Films. Babul Films has only one objective – to spread awareness about environmental degradation and how to prevent it, how to reverse the damage already done. It is funded by Gangadhar himself. He takes care of all the logistics, including most aspects of film-making. He conducts awareness programs and screenings and goes from school to school to request them to show the films he has. He organizes events and short film festivals. When we enquired about revenue, he explained that he is yet to figure that part out. He confided that he needs to do that fast, since he is rapidly using up the retirement funds, and his wife and son need some answers.
Our brief conversation of that evening was dominated by his passion for environmental issues. We spoke on various issues, with him sharing his ideas (and he has several good ones) and his challenges. He explained that while India has some of the best legislation in place to protect the environment and our future, we are handicapped by the will to execute. The environment is not on the agenda of any political party, and most candidates for public office would draw a blank if questioned on their stance on major questions. He explained how making environment the focus of our decision regarding the “governance of the polis” could possibly bring about true political change.
He shared about his experiences organizing festivals, and the challenges of finding sponsors and partners who will honor their commitments all the way through. He shared some of the stickier moments he had faced dealing with funding such events. Then he explained that he was in the process of organizing another festival this year.
Why am I writing this post? I went to bed that night with all of these and many other things that we had discussed echoing in my head. The next morning it was lost in the madness that Sundays are. And then the week kicked in. With time, the intensity of the experience dulled. What didn’t dull was a feeling of admiration, one that bordered on envy. I meet a lot of people, including myself every morning in the bathroom mirror, who express deep concern for the environment. They quote numbers and names, policies and philosophies. What was different about Gangadhar was that he was all of this and more. He was living out his beliefs, and translating his concern into tangible action, taking the results of that action out there among people, relentlessly and without losing hope. I remembered how he had spoken about reputed schools who are only too willing to have him come and screen films but reluctant to bear even the cost of renting the equipment.
For me, I know that a lot of my concern does not translate to action. I am only too willing to compromise in many areas. I like to be thought of as environmentally aware, but I am too fond of my comfort zone, my PET-bottled sodas and air-conditioned summers. But if you are even a little like me, you will have realized by now that Gangadhar is a person we need to put our weight behind. Because he is doing what many of us would like to but are not able to. If he can continue to do what he is doing and also measure up by the conventional parameters of success, he will be an example for others. Like you. Like me. If not, he will be a martyr, perhaps an unknown one. Like me, he must be acutely aware of that possibility. Like me, it doesn’t matter to him either. I guess. Does it matter to you?
What does he need? What can you do to help him? He has better answers than me on his website. Typical of his thinking, you will find a list of ways you can help him on the link that you would click to see how he can help you – the careers page.
Here are some ways that I think the readers of SJD can make a difference to this man’s mission.
- 1. If you are a blogger, write about him, his work and his ideas. Meet him, email him or call him to get the information you need for your post. If you are not, share about his work or his website on your social networks.
- 2. Invite him to help organize events for your community. Whether it is your housing association, your school, your company, or the ladies club, get him to come and speak to your community about the consequences of taking proactive steps to protect our future.
- 3. He already has a small event planned for Earth Day (April 22) and a larger one including an eco-film festival for World Environment Day (June 5). If you are in Hyderabad, contact him and participate in these events along with your friends and family. If you are not, share about these events with your friends and family in Hyderabad. The future belongs to friends and family, not faceless corporate greed or political ambition. Up to you though.
- 4. Help him with networking and support. This man is full of ideas. He needs the opportunity to turn them into reality. Look at your life and ask yourself what you can do to help him. Money, infrastructure, and logistics are important. If you can provide him these – great. If you cannot, you can still help him – by connecting him with people, by endorsing his work, and most importantly, by contributing your processing power to his mission – your mind. If you are interested in films, filmmaking or film appreciation, do check out his careers page.
Gangadhar Panday ko contact kaise karna? His website is at Babul Films. You can also "like" and join him on his Facebook Page. You can email him, fix up an appointment and meet him. He resides between Tolichowki
Meet him, write to him, or call him, and initiate a dialog. I did the same, thinking that I would contribute to his mission. Strangely, I came out more enriched than I had started out. Do leave a comment to share how you, the community we are building here to live simpler, kinder, more responsible lives, are able to make a difference to the environment.