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IFFM-2021 REVIEW: 1232 km - The Long Journey Home (Hindi) : We will die on the way or when we reach home

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MELBOURNE, 3 August 2021: For how long maximum have you walked or cycled? Not sure. Anyway, it's not easy, but possible. Don't worry, journalist & director Vinod Kapri's '1232 km - The long Journey Home' documentary details how determined humans (yes, humans) can chart their journey against unprecedented hurdles. It's no joke to make an one hour and 56 minutes documentary on seven migrants who cycle (with a few lifts in trucks) from Loni, Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh) to Saharsa (Bihar) with no food and the lurking danger of rough cops.

This journey starts instantly as the determined seven undertake a do-or-die journey to their villages in remote Bihar starting a month after PM N. Modi announced the nationwide lockdown with a four hours notice, rendering them jobless and hungry. In fact, millions of others faced the same fate as India faced the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The seven days desperate journey of these helpless underprivileged workers by cycle had only one slogan - " Marange ya to raste main - ya phir ghar ja kar marange" (Either we will die on the way or when we reach home). Some have mobile phones and keep in touch with family in the village.

All sorts of people emerge on the way. Some help and others refuse fearing the police. Many truck drivers agree to give lifts and dhabawallas (wayside eateries) help them with food. The pandemic also seems to generate humanity and compassion. Villagers and common folk on the way give a helping hand. People help people, not worried about the consequences. Survival creeps in despite the danger of never seeing loved ones. One small error on the road could be disastrous.

The beautiful photography of rural landscapes and simple people interacting with the helpless speaks for itself. A man makes samosas for the riders. The never-ending journey keeps revealing till the seven enter Bihar. It's joy and relief. They go for quarantine in a depilated school building and uneatable food creates despair. These are hard-working people who earn and eat. Being with families has its reliefs but a much tougher life is in the offing.

All the migrants featured in the documentary were forced to return to big cities because of the lack of jobs in Bihar, the documentary says.

So, the system remains alive. For India's mainstream media the narratives are different from what Vinod Capri brings for us. This human tragedy should not be forgotten is the message. The '1232 km - The long Journey Home' team's historical hard-hitting narrative leaves me numb and shocked.

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