Mannu: Sprouts Of Endurance

The Plantation strike led by the women tea plantation workers in Munnar, Kerala was a nine day strike, which further lead to the formation of Pempilai Orumai (women's unity) , a landmark movement in the labour union history of India. The strike has broke out on 2015, Sept 5 with around 5000 workers started their agitation in front of Kannan Devan Hills Plantations Ltd. Office, when management decided to scale down the bonus to 10 percent from 20 percent. The strike was a female labour movement first time in the history of India and was an attempt to demarcate the economical and gender disparities in plantation sector.

Being the cheapest, but productive, women’s labour is the bedrock of economy of production. Pempilai Orumai was a remarkable movement which revealed the political economy of a labour sector. This documentary is an attempt to measure the present gradient of demands corroborated by women workers, taking stock of the pursuance of movement in a political dimension and also an enterprise to berth the life of plantation workers in Munnar.

The film narrates the saga of encroachment of vast stretches of a hilly land, the eviction of its rightful owners, the blatant exploitation of the labourers and their struggle for existence.
It does not confine itself in narrating the evolution and impact of a labour struggle, but also focuses on another important social aspect , the significance of caste, the strangle hold it exerts on the psyche of the society. The documentary holds its mirror to the dichotomy of underlying neglect and discrimination meted out to the hapless people belonging to the lower echelons of society. It explores the ruthless impact of policies on the 'land' and 'soil', its lopsided distribution, the illegal encroachments carried out by the encroaches, the resultant irreparable and long standing damage it causes to the environment and fragile terrain, which is abound with precious flora and fauna.

  • RAMDAS KADAVALLUR
    Director
  • RAMDAS KADAVALLUR
    Writer
  • SILICON MEDIA
    Producer
  • PACE TRUST
    Producer
  • RAMDAS KADAVALLUR
    Producer
  • Prathap Joseph
    Cinematography
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Mannu : Sprouts Of Endurance
  • Project Type:
    Documentary
  • Genres:
    Socio- Political and Environmental
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 53 minutes 4 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 31, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
    India
  • Country of Filming:
    India
  • Language:
    Malayalam, Tamil
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    Yes
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Chennai International Documentary and Short Film Festival
    Chennai
    India
    February 19, 2020
    Indian Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Madurai International Documentary and Short Film Festival
    Madurai
    India
    December 6, 2020
  • Nepal -America International Film Festival, Maryland, US
    Maryland
    United States
    July 17, 2021
    Special Jury Mention
  • 20th Dhaka International Film Festival
    Dhaka
    Bangladesh
  • 49th Annual Conference of South Asia
    Madison
    United States
  • Museum Talkies International Film Festival
    Cochin
    India
    Best Documentary/ Best Cinematography
  • Visionaries Film Festival
    California
    United States
  • 13th IDSFFK
    Thiruvananthapuram
    India
Director Biography - RAMDAS KADAVALLUR

Name : RAMDAS KADAVALLUR
RAMDAS KADAVALLUR is a documentary film maker from India , and also a founder member of Clone Cinema Alternative, an independent film organization based in Delhi. Started his career as a journalist in Malayala Manorama, he was a news reader in All India Radio, Delhi since 2003. A Post Graduate in Mathematics, he later completed his post graduate diploma in Mass Communication. He has authored a book , and also assisted several documentary film projects.

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Director Statement

The Munnar Plantation Strike in 2015 was a labor strike organized by women plantation workers in tea estates obviating the existing trade unions from syndicating the movement, which resulted in the formation of a women organization called Pempilai Orumai ( Women’s Unity) .

The agitation led by the women plantation workers in Munnar, was an attempt to demarcate the economical and gender disparities in plantation sector. Being the cheapest, but productive, women’s labor is the bedrock of economy of production. Pempilai Orumai movement is remarkable because it reveals the political economy of a labor sector.

The plantation workers are often meted out discrimination on the basis of language besides caste and thus feel alienated. Most of them belong to the backward community of Tamil Nadu and were brought to the plantation estates by the British during pre-independence period. They are forced to carry the tag of 'migrant labourers' eternally, and since their mother tongue is Tamil, despite being born and brought up in Kerala, they are treated as 'outsiders' and aliens. This documentary is an attempt to measure the present gradient of demands corroborated by women workers, taking stock of the pursuance of movement in a political dimension and also an enterprise to berth the life of plantation workers in Munnar.

The shooting of the documentary began in the month of September, 2018 when the State of Kerala and especially Idukki District in which Munnar is situated, was reeling under the aftermath of the fury of unprecedented floods, landslides, damage and destruction of houses and loss of lives. The main reason attributed for such a massive disaster is the mindless and wanton destruction of the ecology by vast encroachment of hilly lands, unbridled construction of roads and concrete structures, legal and illegal rock mining and such insensitive intervention in the fragile nature. As a documentary film maker, I am attempting to convey the in-depth of the pain, angst and anguish I felt by closely interacting and observing the life of the marginalized plantation workers in Munnar , the neglect and discrimination they have been subjected to, how the women workers among them rose in revolt against their subjugation and slavery, how the wily corporate exploit them, while the mainstream political parties and their leaders are 'hand in glove' with and subservient to them, throwing the lives of thousands of innocent people out of gear. As a citizen of the largest democratic country in the world and a person who lives in a land of ‘unity in diversity’ , I feel it is within me to point out the blatant violation and denial of democratic and fundamental rights bestowed by the Constitution of India to these workers, their exploitation and ostracization on casteist and linguistic grounds as also chronicle the saga of resistance and struggle from among the women in their ranks for the posterity to cherish, ponder and get enthused and inspired.