Vedaaranya Heritage Arts and Healing Festival 2016

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Mandakini Mathur

Panchgani CHS
Panchgani 412805 (Maharashtra)

Film making as a tool for self expression and exploratio

During my work with children over the last twelve years I have realized that film making is not just a wonderful means of creative expression but can also be used effectively for exploring the world around us. Although a film records the real, it transcends it for it demands reflection and analysis of the issues depicted. Thus the process of film making lends itself to a teaching/learning methodology where students try to make sense from their own real life experience without relying on second hand information from books or media.

Film making can be seen as a synthesis of all art forms. Hence it could help hone diverse talents such as storytelling, music, acting, animation, scripting, audio and video technology for example. The process of creation enables students to assimilate the world around them, process it within themselves and create therefrom, their very own interpretation of it. The intensity of the process ensures holistic learning both at the cognitive as well as at the emotional level. Work thus produced becomes valuable resource material for future use too.

Since today media impacts children from all quarters, media awareness should be an integral part of their education system. A passive reception of inputs – ads, films and television – should make place for a more discriminating viewership. This naturally entails familiarization with the language of cinema. How, for example, the same story could appear different from different perspectives. Viewing a film, whether documentary or fiction, in a classroom situation can be easily transformed into education. Hence both film making and film appreciation are effective tools.


Mandakini Mathur did her M-Phil in Cinema Studies from the Sorbonne, Paris in 1989. Based in Panchgani, a small hill station near Pune, she teaches communication skills to high school students where film-making is used as a means of exploring reality around us.  She has been making films on issues of environmental concern, Indian culture and spirituality and on child centric themes. Some of her films in the recent past have covered issues such as the traditional Indian wisdom in man’s relationship with nature and how it has changed in the present times, a spiritual journey along the entire length of the Krishna river, the impact of advertising on children’s food habits, and on how violence in media and popular fiction affects a child’s mind. A Marathi version of her film ‘Fire on the Mountain’ on the destructive practice of burning the hillsides in the Panchgani-Mahabaleshwar region is being used extensively by the Government Forest Department to create awareness on this issue and to energize the local population into action. Her film, River Goddess was commissioned for exhibition at a nine month long Festival of Hinduism at the Tropen Museum, Amsterdam in 2006. In 2006 itself , the film was also awarded at the UGC sponsored educational video film festival. She believes that film-making is not only a means of creative expression but is an effective tool for teaching / learning and thus for bringing about social change. Aapa-Akka (80 mins) was her first video feature film venture.  It is a story of a Muslim girl fascinated by a 12th century Hindu poetess saint, Akka Mahadevi and her quest for a God beyond religion.