PUNE: Hope, uncertainty and an everyday struggle to earn a living is the underlying theme of Swapnil Kapure’s documentary film ‘Thiyya’ (labour adda), that has won this year’s CAPA Award for the best documentary film in international CILECT competition.
An alumnus of the Television Direction Department of FTII, Kapure, also won special mention at the 65th National Awards this year for his fiction film Bhar Dupari (The Afternoon), earlier this year.
Kapure’s documentary depicts the life of wage workers who gather for work or money at places known as ‘thiyya’ in cities and villages.
“The place ‘thiyya’ is associated with my childhood memory when my house was being built. My father used to tell me to meet our contractor at the ‘thiyya’ in our village near Jalgaon, and I was always fascinated by the sight of the labourers gathered around to look for work and earn wages. After graduation, when in Pune, while travelling by public transport, I regularly saw much bigger versions of ‘thiyyas’ at different places in the city and my curiosity and fascination for them rekindled. So, when at FTII, we were brainstorming for ideas to shoot our films, something that would fit into the shooting norms of FTII and the idea of making a film about the workers at the ‘thiyya’ came to my mind,” Kapure said on what inspired him to make ‘Thiyya’.
As a part of his research, Kapure would spend long hours every day at the different ‘thiyyas’ in the city at Warje, Vanaz Corner, Kothrud, Hadapsar, etc., sometimes talking to the workers, while sometimes just sitting and observing them as their everyday struggle to find work went on.
While the workers were hesitant earlier, Kapure said that his frequent visits and attempt to be like one of them through his appearance helped him to get to know them better.
“During my interactions with them, I came to know about their problems, how their life is affected when they do not get work, their troubles with the contractors even to get the minimum wage that they are promised, and so on. However, I did not want to shoot the film in a way that would ask the viewers to sympathise with them, rather show them in a different light, as a third person. So, I decided to find characters within them, and depict their stories in an inspiring manner,” Kapure explained.
While Kapure saw to it that most of the film was shot candidly, instead of making the workers fake their actions, it narrates the stories of a few workers, that touched the heart of the filmmaker.
Kapure asserted, “Amidst all the uncertainty and struggle, it’s the hope of finding work that keeps these people going. Common people like us see these groups every morning and evening, at different locations in the city, but very few know anything about them. While there are workers’ unions and organisations, these unorganised labour neither has a direction, nor a voice. Even making a film about them, I think, would not have received a backing or a recognition in a commercial set up, the way I got it in FTII.”
CILECT (Centre International De Liason Des Ecoles De Cinema Et De Television - International Association of Film and Television Schools) is a non-governmental global association of film schools. FTII is one of the 180 full member institutions from 65 countries at the association. CILECT Asia-Pacific Association (CAPA) is the regional association of 28 acclaimed CILECT member schools in the Asia-Pacific region.
Shot by Chaitanya Puranik, Thiyya is edited by Shruthy Sukumaran with sound by Amosana Thokcham.
“The CILECT award is unique as it is the first ever award bestowed to a student’s film not by a handful of jury members but by the whole community of CILECT full member schools, which is 180 institutions from 65 countries. In most cases schools choose to include in the voting panels students, teachers and staff accounting to hundreds of members in each panel,” said Bhupendra Kainthola, Director, FTII.