The Rough Guide to Democracy


Directors’ statement:

In a world being increasingly shaped by the corporate-nation state and its hydra-heads (WTO/ IMF/World Bank/ADB), the “marginal” citizen is in danger of becoming totally “irrelevant”. His voice has no space in mainstream newspapers and television, which is dominated by millionaire-maker shows, reality TV voyeurism, revenue-driven newscasts and sterilized fiction. These “marginal” voices and their universes fascinate me, as my own universe is inextricably intertwined with it.

Aftershocks is a film that happened almost by accident. While working as a relief volunteer in the earthquake-affected zone, I stumbled across the story. It horrified me enough to overcome my own reluctance about being a part of “disaster tourism”. To many, it seemed like a non-story from the very beginning- 2 tiny villages destroyed by the quake versus a government controlled corporate giant (GMDC - the mining company) out to profit from the quake - not a single adverse report appeared in TV or print till press previews for Aftershocks were held! Even then, the financial dailies and television news channels blacked out the story completely.

Aftershocks is a journey through the labyrinthine universe of Democracy, as it exists in its lowest unit level - the Indian village.


1. Robert Flaherty prize, Pennsylvania film festival (USA;2002)
2. Le Prix de la Presse politique (Best documentary film), 16th Fribourg International film festival (Switzerland; 2002)
3. John Michaels memorial award and Bronze for best documentary feature, Big Muddy film fest (USA; 2002)
4. Best Documentary ( feature-length), Big miniDV film festival (USA; 2002),
5. Earthvision Award, Earthvision filmfest 2003 (Japan)
6. Special Jury award, Ecocinema 2002 ( Greece)
7/8. Jury citation/mention at Black International Cinema fest (2002; Germany) and at Earthvision 2002 (USA)
9. Certificato di Merito Bronze, 12th Prix Leonardo (2003; Italy)

10. Best Documentary, Jeevika (India; 2004)

Review blurbs :

“ It is an exposť…it shocks, it jolts…” – Indian Express
“ The film delves into the complexities of caste…” - Hindustan Times
“ Aftershocks captures brilliantly the ‘business as usual’ philosophy of our elites – The Hindu
" The image that will not go away as one watches Rakesh Sharma’s film is of vultures. Kind, suave vultures." - Mid-Day
" Despite the grave subject, the film manages to inject a lot of humour" - infochange India
" Aftershocks appeals because of its subtlety. It draws the viewer through an absorbing unravelling of the narrative" - Newsline
“ The quake was used to harness corporate goals…Aftershocks captures the proceedings”- The Independent(UK)
" The film shows with painful clarity how easily a powerful corporation can use hollow promises" - DOX

About the film

Aftershocks is about the transformation of the Welfare State into an ally of the Corporation. It examines the acquisition/ displacement of two quake-affected villages for lignite mining and power generation. It probes the microcosm in the nature of a study "from below" of globalisation of Economy and corporatisation of Democracy

Details :

On January 26, 2001, Kutch (Gujarat, India) was devastated by a massive earthquake. Over 20,000 people died and tens of thousands of homes were destroyed. Bhuj, Anjar, Rapar and Bhachau, the most severely affected areas, received attention from many international relief agencies, national and international media, even personal visits from Prime Minister Vajpayee and Citizen Clinton.

This film is set in Julrai and Umarsar , two villages in Lakhpat, near the India Pakistan border, close to the Gujarat coast, and too far away from Bhuj to be in focus. Umarsar is an upper caste Durbar village, while Julrai's entire population comprises low class Rabbaris, semi-nomadic shepherds, who began to settle down into permanent villages only in the last couple of hundred years. The two villages have nothing in common except that both were almost totally destroyed during the quake and both are sitting on top of lignite reserves. The Government-controlled Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation has a monopoly over any mining activity in the region. GMDC is likely to be privatised completely over the next few years; 26% of its shares were sold to corporates, financial institutions and investors in 1997-98.

This film traces the story of GMDC's attempts to acquire the two villages. Eight weeks after the quake, on March 26, 2001, our camera accidentally bumps into the GMDC acquisition survey team in Umarasar. Over the next few months, the film moves in and out of Julrai, Umarsar and the GMDC's existing lignite mines and probes the processes of displacement and resettlement.

Did GMDC succeed in exploiting the earthquake as a God-sent opportunity to hasten the acquisition? How did the obviously vulnerable quake-affected people of Julrai and Umarsar deal with it? What was the role of the state government machinery, entrusted with the welfare of its calamity affected people? How have the existing mines and the power plant affected the lives of the people living nearby? Have the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislative taken note of this human impact before they paved the way for the new mines and the new power plant?

The film is a hitchiker's journey through the labyrinthine universe of Democracy, as it exists in its lowest unit level - the Indian village.







> Video Clips on

> An article about Aftershocks in 'The Hindu'

> An article about Aftershocks at

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