Director: Jyoti Prasad Das
Summary: The Apatani tribe in Arunachal Pradesh resides mainly in Lower Subansiri district. Among the major tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, the Apatanis are the most remarkable as they have an independent economy based on agriculture. The film is a strong and authentic depiction of the unusual method of agriculture practised by the Apatanis.
Beginning with a series of spellbinding long shots capturing the exotic locales, the land of the Apatanis in the picturesque foothills of the Himalayas, is depicted in the film with a strong cinematic vocabulary. But the eloquent visual quality in the film fails to complement the background narration. The music plays a more effective role here.
Precise and informative narration along with excellent visuals make the film stand out. It focuses on the life of the villagers and shows how the Apatanis follow an advanced method of agriculture unlike the slash-and-burn system of cultivation commonly practised by other tribes of Arunachal Pradesh as well as the Northeast. Instead of harnessing animals the Apatanis use iron hoes, digging sticks which are mostly wooden, to plough the land. The Lower Subansiri district is like a plateau surrounded by high hills with rivers Panior, Kamala and Kali flowing nearby. That is why, instead of relying on the rain god, the Apatanis use the system of channels for cultivation. The film deals with all these aspects in a simple but realistic manner.
Division of labour is distinct in Apatani society and the film unfurls it in a subtle and sublime manner. While the men construct irrigation channels and dams, the women are busy in planting seeds, weeding and other work.
“The Apatanis are the survivors in this wonderland of traditions in spite of modernity’s onslaught of the Green Revolution. They have survived since time immemorial with their own indigenous agricultural methods vis-a-vis the mainstream Green Revolution. The Apatanis have shown to mainstream India how tradition blends with time and transcends these ecological nuances. That’s why I prefer to call them The Green Warriors,” said director-cinematographer, Das, who is also a well-known painter. He has worked as cameraman in a couple of nationally-acclaimed documentaries.
The Apatani women use black colour on their cheeks, nose and forehead. Notes on anthropology reveal that they are forced to do so in order to save themselves from warrior tribes living in the neighbouring areas. The film, however, does not explain this fact and so it may be a little confusing for viewers.
Review: A tribute to Arunachal's green warriors, By CHANDAN SARMAH, The Telegraph Published 1.12.06