Directed by Sai Sar | Reviewed by Samiksha Periwal
As the title very clearly suggests, ‘The State of Indian Mining’ is a short, mobile film presented in the form of a documentary that captures the process and the people involved in the mining industries of India. In this documentary, the filmmaker has touched upon tow different mines; the first being a mica mine situated in Nellore district and the second one being a granite mine. As the stereotype goes, most people believe that the safety measures involved in such high-risk jobs are often inadequate in developing countries such as India. Therefore, to testify this general statement and to understand closely how and what the mining workers function in this nation it is essential for you to watch this extremely interesting documentary.
This film has completely been shot in sync sound and on location, showing the audience authentic footage of mines, underground tunnels and so on. It begins with the description of mica and its importance in the world today. The director Sai suggests that extracting mica as a mineral has been attacked by the media in the recent years; this is because of its generally hazardous conditions and tendency to use young children as labor. Child labor is both cheap and effective to the industry in terms of skinny children being able to get inside tiny tunnels and extract the maximum amount of the minerals for greater profits. These practices have been found in some states such as Jharkhand as reported by a few media channels. This motivated and intrigued the filmmaker to go ahead, do his research and make a documentary on the same covering two mines situated in the southern half of the country and try to give the general public a broader view on this ongoing issue.
The film has been made after doing a lot of research and it portrays reality in its most crude form. The information is sent out in a very objective and bias free manner which makes this documentary a level above the usual ones which generally try to pick sides in such a situation. It is interesting in terms of the interviews, shots and actual mining footage that has been shown through the film. A subtle background score neutralizes the extra sound that could have interrupted the flow of the storyline which acts as an additive advantage.
The current state of Indian mining has been described in detail giving us as insight from the perspectives of all kinds of people placed in the hierarchy of importance in the industry. The documentary takes into account the experiences of the owner, manager and worker which again promotes inclusivity. Another interesting fact that shown in the film is the impact of covid on this industry and the lives of these daily wage laborers. The Taiwanese are a major consumer for both mica and granite, post the pandemic its effects can be felt on both the sides and hence the supply has been restricted to only within the country. Due to less export the industry has been suffering from a loss currently, yet it is encouraging to see that at least in the two mines shown in the documentary, the safety of the workers has not been compromised.
As suggested by the director, it is essential to look at this film from a very objective point of view. While the situation shown here is pretty good where the owners have aligned with the government protocols, refrained from using child labor and successfully managed the safety of the workers we cannot take this as the entire truth and believe that there are no issues at all. It is important for the audience to realize that not every mine has an ongoing safety problem and also understand that some instances may be problematic as well. As a work of art, this film has very aptly created awareness about the mining industry, its pros and cons. It is a beautiful piece which should definitely be watched by our viewers to understand, empathize and realize their responsibilities as fellow citizens.
Samiksha Periwal is an 20 year old student from Kolkata, West Bengal. She is an enthusiast, eager to learn and explore. She has done her schooling from Lakshmipat Singhania Academy, Kolkata and is currently a student of Christ University, Bangalore pursuing a triple major in BA Psychology, Sociology and English. She is a passionate writer and has won many laurels for her school through the years.