Mumbai, Mar 21 (PTI) Khabar Lahariya, the country’s only female-led rural media collective who is the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary ‘Writing With Fire’, said on Monday that his portrayal in the film was ‘inaccurate’ .
Directed by debutants Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh, “Writing With Fire” chronicles the rise of Khabar Lahariya, a digital-only rural news channel run by Dalit women.
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The documentary, which landed a spot in the final list of nominations at the 94th Academy Awards in the Documentary (Feature) category, follows an ambitious group of Dalit women – led by their chief journalist, Meera – as the team is moving from print to digital to stay relevant.
In a lengthy blog post ahead of the March 28 Oscars, Khabar Lahariya said the documentary – which the team saw recently – only captures part of their story, “and partial stories sometimes have a way. to distort the whole”.
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Thomas and Ghosh could not be reached for comment on the post when contacted by PTI.
“The film is a moving and powerful document, but its portrayal of Khabar Lahariya as an organization with a particular and all-consuming focus on reporting on a party and mobilizing around it, is inaccurate.
“We recognize the prerogative of independent filmmakers to present the story they choose, but we would like to say that this overshadows the kind of work and the kind of local journalism that we have done for twenty years, the reason why we are different from other mainstream media of our time. It’s a story that captures part of our own, and partial stories sometimes have the potential to distort the whole,” the post read.
The organization said its team, led by Dalits but also including Muslims, OBCs and upper-caste women, is committed to impartial journalism and is not just a “heartwarming story” of success .
The team said its journalistic values are not “reflected” in the documentary, which caused a stir at international film festivals.
“In our 20 years of practicing independent journalism, it has been a core value to deliberate about how and who we include in the setting or story, about corroboration, about multiple perspectives. not reflected in the version of ourselves that we see in the film.
“And so, to people around the world watching us, maybe even us heroes, we want to say that ours hasn’t just been the easy-to-digest, heartwarming story of the little character who responds to big powers at a time of political change.
Khabar Lahariya said that for the organization it has been 20 years of financial uncertainty, reporting on violence against women, navigating out of complex situations and “wading through mountains of FIR”. .
“And in our 20 years doing this unglamorous work, we didn’t know if we’d survive another week, a month, or a year. Even as we speak, and as some of our stories reach the splendor of Oscar lunches – we feel the same vulnerability.”
Calling out the documentary for its apparent rosy portrayal of caste, the organization said: “We haven’t, as the film would suggest, been able to wear our caste identities on our sleeves, with bravado and humor. We had to be discreet, often fearful…
“We didn’t come out of a vacuum, but from long decades of work on the ground, on empowerment, on literacy, on digital access… When we go to offsite offices – that’s mostly what we discuss, not just how we feel when a particular party wins an election – that’s what you would take away from the film.”
Khabar Lahariya concluded that as the team “unexpectedly” gain worldwide exposure with the film, they hope to talk more about “what makes independent rural women-led media possible – which is a story much more complex than the one that goes to the Oscars”.
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from syndicated newsfeed, LatestLY staff may not have edited or edited the body of the content)