Taaza Khabar: Manikpur Elections
Director: Bishakha Datta; Cinematographer: Ranu Ghosh
Duration: 00:48:42; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 64.505; Saturation: 0.043; Lightness: 0.360; Volume: 0.143; Cuts per Minute: 7.679
Part of the footage of the film Taaza Khabar directed by Bishakha Datta and produced by Nirantar. The film is about the journey of a team of all women journalists of Khabar Lahariya (a grassroots newspaper published by the women themselves) through several obstacles. The determined efforts are to ensure the 62nd issue of Khabar Lahariya reaches its readers on time. The women are from Chitrakoot district in U.P. who report stories that find no space in mainstream media. It also portrays how these women have created their own space and established their identity in a context where patriarchy and caste-based discriminations are dominant. In this event, three of the Khabar Lahariya journalists - Manju, Kavita and Shanti cover the elections at Manikpur. They visit the polling booths and speak to the candidates and the voters to get their perspectives on the election process.
Shanti, one of the Khabar Lahariya journalists is followed during her field work to get information on the elections. She walks past the streets to reach the police station. One of the police officers immediately follows her inside and asks her how she could enter the premises without permission. She laughs it off saying that its part of her work. The walkie talkies loudly blare in the room, with policemen exchanging updates constantly. Shanti asks the policeman questions about the polls and tells him that she wants to go visit the venue where it's taking place.
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The policeman starts to talk loudly on the phone about the polling results in a few areas, and he repeats them to confirm the information he receives. He gives an update about reports and percentages on voting parties. Shanti silently stands and listens to the conversation. The policeman suggests that she sit down and get all the information she needs by listening to the communication happening via the walking talkies. Shanti disagrees saying that she is not a journalist who sits in one place to get information about an incident, but visits the areas where it is happening, witnesses it and then gathers information. He listens to her but continues to talk over the walkie talkie.
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Shanti sits down and starts to ask him a few questions about the polling results, getting her doubts clarified. She writes down notes as he answers her. One of the other policemen reads a newspaper sitting at a table while another sits behind Shanti observing what's happening. Shanti gets up and leaves.
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She walks outside where Kavita and Shakila are waiting for her. The three of them walk outside the gates and leave the station. They take a walk across a long road that stretches in between green fields. The breeze is strong, indicating a windy afternoon. The fields are a wide expanse of green land, with trees lining both sides of the road that passes through. The three women sit on the road and chat, enjoying the weather and the natural beauty of the place. They then walk on a narrow path in between the fields moving farther away from the camera frame.
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The journalists reach a spot where a few people are gathered around a tree, some of them sitting down below it. They then reach the polling booth where the day's polls are being held. Men and women are seen waiting in two separate lines to cast their vote. The women have their heads covered with their sarees, as they wait their turn to go inside the room. Kavita, Manju and Shanti walk into the room and talk to the men sitting at the desk, asking questions and writing down in their notebooks.
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Kavita goes out of the room to interview one of the women voters. Shanti also speaks to one of the women voters and gets information about where they are from and a few general questions about their experience at the polling booth. The women are all sitting on the floor in a group. They look away and cover their faces when the camera points to them. Kavita and Manju speak to a few other women. Kavita specifically asks them if they voted out of their own choice or whether they were forced to give their votes. The women say they came to cast their vote out of their own choice.
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A big box is placed at the center of the room, where the voters place their votes. They first walk into an enclosed area, that is separated with cloth, where they write the name of the candidate, and on their way out, place the piece of paper into the box.
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Kavita is taking the interview of one of the male candidates outside at the field. She talks to other male voters and asks them if they voted out of their own choice and they immediately confirm that they did. Shanti and Manju talk to a few more men, getting information about their backgrounds. Some of the men are sitting under a tree, writing on sheets of paper. Many people gather around them, some discussing amongst each other, others just watching.
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