India | 2016 | 69 mins | Hindi | Director Attending
Pushpa Rawat’s documentary Mod was sparked by her desire to reach an understanding of her brother, an aimless drifter. Shot in the lower-middle-class neighbourhood of Pratap Vihar, Ghaziabad, the film depicts Pushpa’s attempts to communicate with the young male dropouts who hang around the local tanki, or water tank—playing cricket, gambling, drinking, smoking up and rapping. These men on the margins dismiss themselves as “third-class” and “garbage” but, although not educated beyond fifth standard, consider jobs paying Rs 8,000 a month too menial to be worth their while. When Pushpa enters their space the boys are curious but wary. “It took time to be allowed entry into their world,” she says. “In fact, I started off by taking just shots of their hands.” Edited from 40 hours of footage, the film is gentle and non-judgemental, but persistent in posing uncomfortable questions to Pushpa’s brother, father, the young men and their families—unpicking these ‘unsuitable boys’’ dilemmas with a rare candour.
Born in Almora, Uttarkhand, in 1987, Pushpa Rawat holds an MA in philosophy from Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut. Her heart has belonged to filmmaking since she attended a workshop at the National Bal Bhawan, Delhi. Since then, she has contributed to the 2007 documentary short Kyon—a group project about gender-based violence—and directed the highly personal documenatary feature Nirnay (2012), also set in Ghaziabad, which was screened at DIFF 2014. Despite sporting the tag of ‘bad boys’, Pushpa says the subjects of Mod never misbehaved with her. “I used to find the reflection of my brother in them,” she muses, “in their mistakes and follies.” Editing the footage with her mentor, filmmaker Anupama Srinivasan, was a long process. “We didn’t know where to start and where to end the film,” she recalls.