Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Lost world: Bangalore's once-upon lakes

Lost world: Bangalore's once-upon lakes

A documentary contest on Bangalore's lost lakes threw up a number of insights, adding depth to the debate

Madhavi Shivaprasad. Bangalore



On the occasion of World Water Day on March 22, non-profit organisation Arghyam, in association with the India Water Portal, sought to bring to life those days when lakes defined the spectacular beauty of Bangalore. It conducted a documentary contest, "Lost Lakes of Bangalore", through which it hopes to acknowledge the role that Bangalore's lakes played in helping build the rich history of the city.
"We wanted to document memories that Bangaloreans have of the lakes and tanks that don't exist anymore. There are a large number of people in Bangalore whose livelihood once depended on these water bodies. We wanted to showcase the way lives were shaped around them," says Arun Patre, Project Officer, India Water Portal.
They also hope to get laypeople to focus on issues that don't bother the ordinary citizen. "Bangalore used to be famous for the sheer number of lakes and tanks that it housed. We wanted people to be better educated about the history of the place they now live in," says Vijay Krishna, director, Arghyam.
The contest was open to school and college students as well as the general public. Since the India Water Portal is an Internet-based resource, they hoped to reach out to a larger audience.
The various locations of the lakes and tanks have been mapped out on Google Maps for people to get reacquainted with their city as it was in the early 1950s, when there were around 300 lakes and tanks in the city — the number now stands at 67.
Talking about their experiences while working on their documentary Err-bane Truth, which focuses on the history of the Dharmambudhi Tank, which is now the Majestic bus-station, winners of the contest, Nishant Ratnakar, photojournalist with DNA, and Badekkila Pradeep, channel voice of Suvarna TV, say that the main challenge was to ensure the documentary remained attention-grabbing through its ten-minute span.
In order to make an impact, what is most important is presenting one's perspective, believe the young filmmakers. "Most activists and social workers these days tend to be older. We don't see the youth participating much in issues such as environmental awareness. Therefore, our protagonist is a college student who is challenged to look for the lake and the film traces how in the process he realises that he had overlooked what was right in front of him," says Ratnakar.
"We hope that just like the protagonist of our film, others are motivated to try and find out more about the life around them. Instead of remaining just another film that has been made and forgotten, we want it to be the beginning of a change," adds Badekkila.
Rajul Ramchandani, a class X student of Delhi Public School, won the contest in the student category. His film traced the restoration of the Kaikondrahalli Lake on Sarjapur Road. "After the conversations with experts, I found that my perspective about how the government does nothing to make better living conditions had changed. I now believe that no matter where people live or who they are, they can always make a difference in their own little ways," says Ramchandani.

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