Missing migrant workers, Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s poetry, and the many textures of separation

Posted on February 22, 2020


Ekta Mittal speaks about her 28-minute film ‘Gumnaam Din’ (Missing Days), which is being screened in the Berlinale Shorts section.

You can read the full article on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/the-ekta-mittal-interview-missing-migrant-workers-shiv-kumar-batalvis-poetry-and-the-many-textures-of-separation/

People look at a photo being thrust into their face. A question follows: “Have you seen this man?” They shake their heads. The person in the photo is a migrant worker, now gone missing. “I wonder where he is” is the refrain at home. Somewhere far away, a man — maybe this man — says he has no motivation to work. “You keep running after ghar and paisa and get neither.” Does he want to be found? Does he want to return? All he says is: “I have no identity.” Ekta Mittal’s short film, produced by Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT), grew from the relationships she formed migrant workers while making Behind the Tin Sheets, which observed the lives of these men building the metro in Bengaluru.

I watched your excellent feature documentary Birha at the Dharamsala International Film Festival. That, too, is a meditation — if you will — on separation and loss. What keeps drawing you back to this subject?

I feel it is necessary to register the memory of that which is missing, the inevitability of death and coming to terms with impermanence. Missing Days is a continuation of Birha, meditating on the idea of the missing person — the son, the lover, or the husband who leaves for a city to work — and the landscapes that embody the missing. 

Continued at the link above.

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