Private Project


The Call Of Khandadhar Hills
Situated on the borders of Keonjhar and Sundergarh districts of Odisha, the Khandadhar hill range is known for its beautiful bio-diversities and rich mineral deposits. The jewels in the crown of Khandadhar, its two huge waterfalls have given it a good place in the national and international tourist maps. One can locate one waterfall in the Banspal block of Keonjhar district while the other one could be seen in the Bonai block of Sundergarh district. When the Sun shines and falls on the waterfalls surrounded by dense forests from all sides, it gives the look of a sword with a very sharp edge. This is the reason why the waterfalls are known as Khandadhar (Edge of a Sword). Sometimes one may also find a number of rainbows over the fall under the reflection of the Sun. These magical beauty spots do attract tourists from across the state throughout the year.
Khadadhar has also got another unique identity. It is known as the habitat of the primitive indigenous tribes-the Paudi Bhunyans who have a wonderful sense of coexistence with other living beings. There are more than 50 perennial streams, more than 15 water ponds and vast open fields do attract thousands of migratory birds from across the country in the winter. The animals do also find it as a good place for grazing. Places around it are known for citrus cultivation such as bananas, guava, lichi and crops like paddy attract elephants to the area.
There is another side of the story. Large-scale mining has been happening in Keonjhar and Sundergarh for the last 100 years. The nature and ecology have suffered the worst and stories of forcible displacement of innocent tribes have been shocking. While the water resources including the ground water table are on the decline and have been badly polluted, the tribal population is also on the decline in Keonjhar. For the first time in history Keonjhar has reported migration of tribal population in search of work to unknown territories. Their major source of livelihood has been badly affected and the voiceless wild animals are also fast disappearing.
Khandadhar along with all its dependent humans, animals and plant species is facing a new challenge because of the apprehension of more aggressive mining in future. This has led to further apprehension that the Khandadhar waterfalls will face extinction because of mining. A major source of River Brahmini may dry up. In addition to this the primitive tribe Paudi Bhuniya, Mundas and other forest dependent poor may be driven out from their safe heaven. Their rich culture, heritage, everything dear to them will carry no meaning for the bulldozers of the company. Laws of indian state like PESA or FRA 2006 where consultation with village councils is must for any project is seldom respected.
The fear and apprehensions are not unfounded. Because of earlier mining activities several perennial streams have dried up. OMC has captured the water sources and deprived the Paudi Bhuniyas of regular cultivation. Even drinking water has been denied to them. These tribes are being forced to leave their villages. The Paudis are known for shifting cultivation. Whereas the state holds them responsible for destruction of forest, they and experts doing study on shifting cultivation say the contrary. They say it helps in regeneration of forest. Their culture has been built up around shifting cultivation.
The film captures the images, the live stories surrounding these images, the helplessness of the laws made, the constitution that works or does not work, the forces that govern in spite of established constitutional provisions, the rich ecological economies, the abode of peace, non-violence in real sense of the words before all of them become part of a history. The narratives recorded in the film may also inspire a new discourse on ecology and men.

  • Tarun Kumar Mishra
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  • Runtime:
    26 minutes 53 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    April 29, 2019
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Director Biography - Tarun Kumar Mishra

Tarun Kumar Mishra ( Odisha) India is a gold medalist in M.A ( Performing Arts) from Utkal University of Culture, Bhubaneswar. Tarun was integral part of the creative team that produced the Samadrusti’s video news magazine "Madhyantara" ( 2007-2017). Tarun began his journey as a camera man and ended up making independent documentaries in just 10 years. His creative contributions are evident in 25 documentaries of Samadrusti, one ecological biography in association with University of Toronto called "Dengajhari a Story of Women and Forest", and “The Referendum" on struggles of Dongarias in Niyamgiri produced by Samadrusti. He blends Art with human sensitivity with perfection.

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Director Statement

Director Statement on the Documentary The Call of Khandadhar Hills
Filmed in the beautiful hills, falls and forests and among the particularly vulnerable tribe Paudi Bhunyan communities of Sundergarh district of Odisha( India) , the Call of Khandadhar Hills-a documentary by Tarun Mishra goes beyond typical issues of human rights, legal and constitutional violations done by certain corporate players in the name of mining projects.
Through the protagonist Bilua Naik- supreme leader of the Paudi Bhunyan tribe, the film tells us on behalf of all living beings-men, animal, birds, trees and streams, , their agonies, anguish and sufferings when a heaven on earth is proposed to be devastated for profit.
Khandadhar is known for its beautiful bio-diversities, huge and attractive waterfalls, about 50 perennial streams and 15 unique water ponds that offer good hospitality to migratory birds coming there from all over the world. Places around it are known for citrus cultivation such as bananas, guava, litchi and crops like paddy attract elephants to the area. But a promise of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has now upset the natural and cultural eco-system of Khandadhar. The film captures some of the externally induced invisible conflicts happening over there without any bias for or against anything. One can also see how a state owned Mining Corporation has captured the water sources and deprived the Paudi Bhuniyas of regular cultivation and drinking, and how natural streams fall victims to violent mining assaults. Paudis also have been forced to leave their villages.
The most interesting part of the film is the protagonist Bilua Naik who articulates in clear and convincing tone the true meaning of ecological happiness that no champion of extractive models of development can afford to ignore.