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Rural Punjab amidst farmers' protest: Short film to be screened at French festival

By Rosamma Thomas* 

"Khushboo", a 15-minute film by Sidhu Vikrant set in Ludhiana, Punjab, has been selected for the competition section of the Clermont Ferrand International Short Film Festival in France. The short fiction film in Punjabi is a depiction of rural Punjab, through the eyes of a farmer who stays silent through much of the film. 
It comes as a short education capsule, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues would do well to spare 15 minutes to watch "Khushboo".
Smelling flowers, the protagonist of the film finds no fragrance – plants produced from hybrid seeds yield flowers with diminished fragrance. His wife pulls his leg, “You cannot smell it because the hair in your nose is now white,” she says.
Through his silence, the farmer expresses much: The loss of diversity and colour, not just in nature but in human relations too; the collapse of dialogue, within the family and nation. The determined protest of farmers at the borders of the national capital lasted a whole year, and the farmers managed to force the government to withdraw the new laws that would have changed farming in India substantially. 
During the year-long protest, the prime minister could not spare the time to meet the farmers; the farmers, however, had all the time in the world and declared that they would not return home until the three farm laws were withdrawn. The rugged protesters feature in the film too, going about their day – combing their hair, alighting from the vehicles that served as home, listening to speeches at the protest site.
Asked why the film was not screened in India, the maker of the film said, “We struggled to put it together on our own funds, and we sent it where we thought it would find appreciation.”
Vikrant has sought support from the State government in Punjab to attend the festival, which will be held between January 28 and February 5, 2022, at Clermont-Ferrand, France.
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All photographs are screenshots from the film sent by Sidhu Vikrant

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