Private Project

The bee,the bear and the Kuruba

Our forests are marked by our trees.
They stand as signposts, when we find our way through the thick jungle.
For us, they are as permanent as the stars in the sky.

Rajappa, a Kuruba in the Nagarahole forest belt.

The Kurubas are the original inhabitants of the forests of Nagarahole and Kakanakote in the Western Ghats, Southern India.

Forcible eviction of the Kurubas started in the early seventies. They were driven out of their ancestral lands deep inside the forest, and forced to live on the roadside or plantations on the periphery.

Today, they have nowhere to go, struggle with a way of life they find difficult to adapt to, and have become trespassers in their own land.

The Film – “the bee, the bear and the kuruba”
The film is an attempt to look at the very creation myth of the kurubas. To look at the Adivasi view of the forest as their inseparable home, their world, and their sacred space within which co-existence, mutual interdependency and harmony form their only view of life.

Weaving a story of contradictions and the clash of two diverse points of view, the film reveals the struggles of these people. It tries to put their battle for survival against the co-option strategies of the state and modern society. The questions are many, and the answers complex and seemingly unsolvable.

The difference is only a thin line, between looking at a forest as a dwelling, a sacred space for all forms of life, or, a habitat in which nature becomes a resource that needs to be managed or exploited. Situations where animals are a species that needs protection versus the tribals that need to be relocated and rehabilitated in an alien environment.

Rajappa lived in the Sujjulu forests deep inside the jungle, now designated as the Rajiv Gandhi National Park. Fifteen years ago, he and his family were driven away by the forest authorities and settled in Thattekere, close to the coffee plantations where he now works as a coolie.

Chomamma and her husband Chandiah used to live in Masalebetta about two decades ago. Forest policies forced them out from the forests to the fringes, to live in Byrankuppe, a trade outpost on the backwaters of the Kabini dam. Her family is disintegrated, with all her three children seeking work as labourers in the coffee plantations of Coorg.

What emerges finally, is the basic issue of survival of the Adivasi and the forest, both of which are intimately interlinked.

The bear and my ancestor, lived feasting on Honey
The bear always left half of the honey for my ancestor
If he harvested the honey first he left half of it for the Bear
Sharing the honey thus
they lived in the forest for ages.

The “the bee,the bear and the kuruba” was filmed over a year and a half from 1999 in the forests of Nagarahole in Southern India.

Format : 16mm with 35mm print made by directorate of film festivals India

  • Vinod Raja
    Director
    Fragrance of the first rain, Mahua memoirs, Vanishing trails, Bird trapper or Beggar?
  • Madhu Bhushan
    Writer
    Fragrance of the first rain. Mahua memoirs,Vanishing trails, Bird trapper or the beggar
  • Vinod Raja
    Producer
    Fragrance of the first rain. Mahua memoirs,Vanishing trails, Bird trapper or the beggar
  • Rajappa and Chomamma
    Key Cast
  • VG BASKAR
    EDITING
    Vanishing Trails, Bird trapper or Beggar
  • R. ELANGOVAN
    SOUND RECORDING
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Nanga Jenu, nanga Karadi, nanga Ajja
  • Project Type:
    Documentary
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 6 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 3, 2001
  • Production Budget:
    25,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    India
  • Country of Filming:
    India
  • Shooting Format:
    16mm film, blown upto 35mm
  • Aspect Ratio:
    4:3
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Alliance Francaise – Festival of Contemporary India Documentaries. June 6th 2001
    Bengaluru
    India
    June 6, 2001
  • 32 International Film Festival of India-IFFI 2001
    Bengaluru
    India
  • United nations Association Film Festival UNAF-2001
    Palo Alto
    United States
    October 25, 2001
  • Film South Asia 2001
    Kathmandu
    Nepal
    October 6, 2001
  • Planet in Focous, 2001
    Toronto
    Canada
  • 21st Bilan du film ethnographique
    Paris
    France
    March 15, 2002
    Europe Premiere
  • 10th Environment Film Festival 2002,Washington DC
    Washington DC
    United States
  • Mumbai International Film Festival-MIFF 2002
    Mumbai
    India
    February 5, 2002
  • 6th environmental Film Festival 2002,Turkey
    Ishanbul
    Turkey
  • Cine Eco 2002

    Portugal
  • The Pennsylvania Film Festival- 2001
    Pennsylvania
    United States
    September 15, 2001
    The festival was called off
  • One World- Asian Social Forum 2003
    Hyderabad
    India
    January 5, 2003
  • Open Frame PSBT & UNESCO -2003
    New Delhi
    India
    August 28, 2003
  • One billion eyes film festival Chennai
    Chennai
    India
  • Siemenpuu Film Festival, Helsinki , Finland 2011

    Finland
    October 2, 2011
Distribution Information
  • VINOD RAJA
    Country: India
    Rights: All Rights
    Country: India
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Vinod Raja

Vinod Raja Producer/Director , Grass Roots media

Graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India-FTII with a specialisation in cinematography 1984-85 . As the director of photography, filmed hundreds of Advertisement commercials aired on all major channels. Photographed Public awareness films on Environment, Rights of the Girl child, Save Water campaign, Health and Education, Disability, Physically challenged etc- shown on major channels and film festivals. As DOP photographed many documentary films shown on Television and Film festivals. Photographed many long form documentaries for international television and worked with renowned artists on a series of experimental films.

Co-directed a 22 minutes film “the fragrance of the first rain” on the indigenous water harvest systems through tanks ponds and lakes in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The film was screened at the Mumbai International film festival 1996.

In the same year, I visited the forests in the Western Ghats of south India, where the indigenous people were protesting against the opening of a luxury resort in the core area of the National park, while they were being forcibly thrown out. In the subsequent 4 years I completed a film on the conservation values of the indigenous people titled – “the bee, the bear and the Kuruba” in 2001. The 35mm print of the film was shown at many international film festivals, universities and conferences.

Traveling across the mountains of the Eastern Ghats to research on shifting cultivation of the indigenous people resulted in a film on their struggles against the mining corporations. After four years of filming, “mahua memoirs” was completed in August 2007. The film got a lot of acclaim and won several awards.

As a DOP photographed a full length feature film titled “Doosra” in 35mm Cinemascope. The film was premiered at the International film festival of Kerala. 2007.

Filming a camera conversation with the great writer and activist Mahashweta Devi over three days in December 2003, I was introduced to the Nomadic and Denotified tribes in India. Over the past several years, I am working with several NGO’s and the National commission on Nomads and DNT’s. I am in close touch with many communities. I have completed a small video compilation and taken lots of photographs. Its a work in progress that I hope to complete in the next three years.

FESTIVAL SELECTION, AWARDS

t h e B e e , t h e B e a r & t h e K u r u b a " 2001, format-16mm, 35mm print. Funded by PIPAL TREE, AFPRO# 32nd International Film Festival of India-IFFI 2001, United Nations Association Film Festival- Stanford-2001, Planet in Focous, Toronto, 2001 Film South Asia, Nepal, 2001, 21st Bilan du film ethnographique, 2002, Musee del Homme Paris, 10th Environment Film Festival 2002, Washington DC, 7th Mumbai International Film Festival-MIFF 2002 , River to River film festival- 2002Florence,# 6th environmental Film Festival 2002, Istanbul, Turkey,# Cine Eco 2002, Portugal,, Open Frame PSBT & UNESCO 2003

Mahua Memoirs” 2007– Format DVCAM Funded by HIVOS India Regional Office- Saloo, the bard and Thirku the Baiga take us on a journey through the lives of the many tribal communities who live in the mountain tracts and forests of the Eastern Ghats .. The best Cinema of resistance at the 3rd SIGNS film festival –Thiruvanathapuram, Kerala, Silver conch at the 10th Mumbai international film festival of shorts, documentaries and animation films. The Indian critics award at the 10th Mumbai International film festival, ,Best long documentary at the 1st international Video festival of Kerala 2008, Best film at the 4th One Billion eyes Film festival held at Alliance Francaise , Chennai. CITATION- Mahua Memoirs, for compassionately exposing the ruthless underside of corporate globalization through the ongoing decimation of Adivasi lands, people and their cultures throughout India. Beautifully crafted with outstanding visuals and haunting music, it is an urgent call to re-examine the policies of the day.

Attended and screened Mahua memoirs at the International conference on Indigenous people and Nomads CHOTRO held at New Delhi in Jan 2008. Presented a paper on the making of Mahua memoirs at the Global Investigative Journalists conference GIJC 2008 in September at Lillihammer, Norway, Jury member for assessing the final year student films at Shristhi school of art design and technology

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

In 1996, I was asked to accompany a group of lawyers to visit the core area of the Rajiv Gandhi National park where the indigenous people were agitating against the building of a luxury eco resort by a well known hotel group while they ,the indigenous people, faced eviction from their homelands in the forests in the name of conservation.

I took pictures of the construction where the hotel group had already spent over 20 million. The photos were produced as evidence during the case and the local Adivasis or indigenous people won the battle in the lower court. The hotel group appealed to the Supreme court and the court battle continued . During this time I stayed on make friends with many Adivasis living in small settlements spread across the declared national park area where no human habitation is allowed. The story of the Bee and the Bear as retold by many elders in the community was my inspiration in making this film.