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NIDian captures life of those who follow both religions-Hindu/Muslim

The film is about Mithulala Mir and his life, livelihood as a homeless person and his thoughts, beliefs and wisdom as a human being, says Pramati

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NIDian captures life of those who follow both religions-Hindu/Muslim
Pramati Anand (right) with Mithulala Mir and his wife
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In an attempt to understand what it means to be a nomad in 21st century, following a liminal religion of being both Hndu and Muslim and living in Gujarat, a student of National Institute of Design has made a film on 'Mirs'. A film and video design student of NID, Pramati Anand through her film, as part of her final year project, has portrayed the life of the Mirs from their perspective living in Gujarat.

The film is about Mithulala Mir and his life, livelihood as a homeless person and his thoughts, beliefs and wisdom as a human being, says Pramati. As Mir belongs to a nomadic and denotified tribe known as 'Mirs', who follow a liminal religion of being both Hindu and Muslim, the film explores the question of what it means to be a nomad in the 21st century and the very concept of civilization and establishment.

She says, "We do read and are aware of certain classes of the society but seldom do we get a chance of experiencing their life or hearing their perspective on their life. I think that is the intention behind this documentary."

Speaking about the challenges, she said, "The biggest challenge was to get through them. As a filmmaker, one cannot just have a discussion, get to know and come back. One has to live those experiences to show them. I remember the first time when I met the Mirs along with the coordinator from Vicharata Samudaya Samarthan Manch (VSSM), they thought that since I had the camera, I was from the government side and started demanding their land and their rights. At that point, I did feel that it would be difficult to look beyond this aspect. It was bound to happen. Hence, it became crucial for me to keep going back and make it normal for them so that they can truly live their lives while the camera just observed. Only then can we aim to paint a true picture."

Though this community is following both religions, they are however treated as Muslims from outsiders. All they want is a land for themselves, she said.

When Pramati started the film, she thought it would be an issue based documentary but after her first two visits, one particular character, Mithulala Mir, started standing out for her. She said, "Then, the entire process evolved. As I got into their lives more, I could see that I wanted to talk about their lives and conflicts through this one character and his family, his thoughts and his life. I also visited another Mir settlement in Deesa itself which was bigger in number. There also on the first visit I felt I could not get through because even they had this notion that I had been sent on some agenda or this was for the government and not for them."

Professor Arun Gupta, Head of Department, Film and Video at NID said, "Every year, NID film and video students make about 15-20 documentaries about various aspects of Ahmedabad and Gujarat on its citizens and their lives. Some of these films invariably are shown in various prestigious film festivals and win awards too. We are in that sense a living history and a live museum of Ahmedabad's pulse, its warts and its winsome ways."

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