Social Innovators of Udaipur: Interview with Santosh Padwal

The 5th and latest episode of Ram-Ram Udaipur recently aired on YouTube. We are here to have a talk with Mr. Santosh Padwal, documentary film-maker and co-founder of the ‘Bindaas Community Media Academy’ in Fatehpura, Udaipur, to learn more about this initiative and his vision of community media. 

1. What is the motivation behind this initiative of yours? 

Well, Ram-Ram Udaipur began as a step to bring to light all the amazing people right here in Udaipur who have dedicated themselves to working in a way that surpasses the norms set by the society. Nowadays, all the media we see around us is promoting pessimism, greed and fear in our minds. So,we have forgotten the positivity that is available to us, if we care to realize and see it. ‘Ram-Ram Udaipur’ may have begun as a small step, but it has now become a big thing for us.

2. Who are these people that you have ‘discovered’? 

They are just normal people who lead a normal life among us, but have taken some effort to bring some good to the society. Many are silent workers so they remain unnoticed. For example, we just discovered a person, Mr. Avinash Nigam, who builds birdhouses and sets them up around the city so that birds can give eggs properly in a comparatively safe environment because these days eggs in open aren’t able to hatch properly. These are small things that we ignore, but if not attended to, can cause a great harm on a large scale. Some people have taken steps to rectify this and for their attempts they should be encouraged. That’s what we are doing through this show.

3. Why did you choose Mewari as the language? 

There is a big power hidden in Mewari – lots of creativity, wisdom and care. It is rapidly disappearing and many people feel ashamed to speak it. If Mewari disappears, so will our culture. We want to encourage people to feel proud of their language and culture so we decided to do the show in Mewari rather than Hindi or English.  

4. Besides you, who other people are behind it? 

This show is not just a one-man show. Several other people are involved in it. Mr. Kishan Prajapat, a local filmmaker from Bhuvana, was the one who came up with this idea in collaboration with Shikshantar Sansthan. Mahesh Nayak, well-known theatre artist, is our advisor. He guides us with ideas to bring new elements in our show. Mr. Govind Kharol and I are responsible for all the video editing and filming the episodes.

5. You guys sound like a great team. What do you dream for the show?

We want to spread awareness and positivity among the people that WE can be the change.  That’s plan one. Besides that, we also want to encourage involvement of local film producers, story-writers and actors and, of course local investors, in our Mewar Region, so that we can have a local film industry here.

6. A local film industry – why is that? 

The times are advancing very fast. In this race we have forgotten the cultural heritage that we have inherited. And we want to bring it back into popular existence. Besides, if a small country like Bhutan with barely 7 lakh people (same size as Udaipur) can have a film industry of its own, then why can’t we? Why just rely on Bollywood for all the ‘masala’, when you can get it right in your own city? Why listen only the stories they tell, and why not tell our own, based on our own experiences and dreams?  

7. The concept is good, but how do you plan to promote it? 

Our first step would be to organize a Film Festival featuring films made by only the Local Film-Makers. Also, we are having regular workshops to teach Film-Making to regular, aspiring people, like youth, housewives, retired people, children etc. If anybody can dance, then why can’t anybody make films? We just need the right environment to support us. That’s some of the steps of our campaign, to promote a ‘Udaipur Film Industry’ and like that in every district of India in the future, because every place a different language and culture of its own. That is the richness of India.

8. What’s this 5th episode all about? Please elaborate? 

In this episode, we interviewed two persons, Dr. Ruchi Dixit and Ms. Jaya Bhavsar, who run a physiotherapy centre in the city for children who are mentally and physically disabled. Jaya tells her story of how she  had to struggle a lot to become what she is. Her contribution to Udaipur is immensely valuable. What she does is different, because rather than just curing the child, she also teaches the parents how to understand the child’s actions even after the therapy has ended. For the second segment, we earlier had done a piece on the traditional Mewari games that we all have grown up playing, and how they are vanishing, but this time we have laid stress on the dishes that are made out of local millets with a veg kabab recipe from Sunny Gandhrva and Manoj Prajapat of Millets of Mewar. Lastly, we posed a hot question to the public at Fateh Sagar regarding whether we should have Old-Age Homes or not in Udaipur. All in all, it is a great episode. The video has been uploaded on the following link. 

Thanks so much for your time Santosh. Good luck with your future projects. We look forward to future episodes of Ram Ram Udaipur.

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