Babul Films: Because It Matters

How did we observe Earth Hour 2013? On March 23, I met Gangadhar Pandey, the person behind Babul Films, an organization dedicated to promoting sustainable lifestyles. We met on the occasion of a painting competition organized for children to observe Earth Hour. Earth Hour is the 2007 campaign created by Leo Burnett for World Wildlife Fund that asks you to turn off the lights for one hour on a March Saturday evening. The next morning, however, you are free to return to your life of consumption and wastage. A couple of us had been invited to judge the contest, and since I have never been asked so nicely, I didn’t say no. It took a few misplaced emails (true to his style, his email handle is admn without an "i," another clue to the mind behind the face) before it was confirmed. It turned out to be one of the most life-affirming decisions I have ever taken.

babul films earth hour
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 and Darga and is always welcoming of visitors.

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.


  1. I was surprised to find no comments and feel happy to be the first one . Actually we carry a guilt within us for the way we are responsible for messing up the environment .Congratulations Gangadhar . you definitely make a difference . There needs to be many more Gangadhars supported by many more Renus . You have made me think of how I can be of help . I have started to lead a simpler and more responsible life but I still have miles to go . will definitely meet you next time I go to hyderabad . Thanks Subho for writing about his mission MDG

  2. Good to know about him.
    every effort counts... I'll try n do my bit

  3. Its a very good article,felt happy to know about Gangadhar the one man(ok,two) army,as u said in the second para of"why im writing this",thats 100%true with many of us,we too have concern n enthusiasm to do some thing about it,but we are too busy with our lives,even if we try to do something, with the dissappointments n discourage we get ,will leave it in the intial stage itself,(had some experiences like that before) decided to confine our ideas n implementations ourselves.My hearty congrats n best wishes to Gangadhar.

  4. strange that only women are leaving their comments n. what happened to the discerning men ?MDG

    1. Anonymous4:12 AM

      did i miss meeting you at SoCh2? blame it on Ganga
      next time better luck

  5. Thanks Subhorup for introducing Gangadhar. Will write about him soon, in the blog.

  6. So nice to connect with Gangadhar. Yes, we feel concerned for the environment but besides some talk and good intentions, we are comfortable in our existence of excesses and comforts, yours truly included. I will follow his FB page and see how I can be of help. Thank you for writing about him.

  7. Anonymous9:52 PM

    I am sharing your blog with a friend who lives in Hyd. I read something today that made a lot of sense. I read: Support something you want, not protect against things you don't want.

    I will also write to Gangadhar and ask him how I can contribute.


  8. Anonymous4:10 AM

    glad to re-read the blog post and read the comments. it is more than 7 months. life is tough but with rich experience. battle is lonely but interesting - spreading awareness about Environment, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development using tools short videos and social media via Babul Films Society non-profit NGO. Discovering, exploring the tools in ICT is fun and also makes sense to the common good. I have good news to share with you all - work is recognized by eNGO who selected babul films as a FINALIST in eNGO Challenge South Asia 2013. it feels great to get mentioned at Asia level. you can find us at at the following link:
    we face the final round in first week of Dec 2013 at Delhi. Preparations are huge and terribly falling short of any volunteer support. Interested to chip in? please do get in touch. spread the word.
    Started appreciating the meaning of the phrases 'escape velocity' 'initial euphoria' - which were trending in the recent past - in much better fashion.
    i request you to react to our posts in Social Media in Best/Better/Good way [e.g., if it is Facebook Share/Comment/Like ] It takes about 30 secs [3 secs if you choose to be mechanical! ] to do that, but your this simple habit will go a long way in pushing our agenda further to live in and leave behind a better world.
    you can find Babul Films in about a dozen social media platforms now like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Youtube, etc., Catch us/me there and be in touch. your best wishes and moral support are a big fillip for me to work further for the cause of society.
    with best wishes
    gangadhar panday

  9. this blog article is curated in our online newspaper about environment
    have a look

  10. This blog article is curated in our online
    newspaper. take a look

  11. the website url of Babul Films has changed from link which is provided in the blog post. the present website is
    Subscribe to our You Tube channel:
    "Online Eco-dictionary exclusively for Environment" is our new project.
    People are welcome to participate in this project:
    Here is the link to the promo video:
    in case of any doubts / clarifications please call 9618082288


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