Shishir Jha’s ‘Tortoise Under the Earth’ is a moving document of the Santhal-speakers in Jharkhand, whose lives are being displaced by uranium-mining companies.

Posted on April 4, 2022


Spoilers ahead…

Will these oral traditions and songs exist after the people leave their homes and become anonymous labourers in the nearest city? That is the big question that hangs over the film.

tortoise under the earth

Shishir Jha’s directorial debut, Tortoise Under the Earth, is in the Santhali language spoken in the Jharkhand area. (Shishir is also the man who did the story, screenplay, editing, and cinematography.) Now, in the 1980s, Uranium was discovered in the Jharkhand area. And slowly, land was being taken away from the tribals who lived there and given to industries. So that is the overall context of the film, and the second subplot – if it can be called that – deals with a couple played by Jagarnath Baskey and Mugli Baskey. Their daughter has gone missing. 

So there are two tragedies at work here – a larger environmental one and a smaller domestic one. But Shishir keeps these two tragedies in the background. In the foreground, he places the lives and the traditions of the tribe.

You can read the rest of the review here:

And you can watch the video review here:

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