By Komal Panchamatia
Mumbai, Jul 13 (PTI) Other species are mute spectators and unwilling participants to the greed and destruction of humankind, says director Rahul Jain, whose Delhi pollution documentary "Invisible Demons" was screened in the special 'Cinema for the Climate' section at the ongoing 74th Cannes Film Festival.
Discussions around climate change have gained urgency in recent years and its impact on people but Jain said one should be more concerned about how humans are affecting other species.
"The film comes from a fear, the kind that a child has when they look at their hands and there's blood and they are confused. It is the same way I feel when you are melting at 50 degrees Celsius or when the AQI (Air Quality Index) is so high that you have to be locked in your home with a mask on.
"These are really visceral feelings and the fear of these feelings or the terror generated from them is what culminated in the film," Jain told PTI in a Zoom interview from Switzerland.
The director said he does not think that it's humankind that needs saving "when we are aware of the fact that there are millions of other species that have no voice and no way to be heard about their suffering".
"The world that we have created is affecting unwilling participants. They are the unwilling spectators to our greed and destruction," he added.
Jain, who was born and brought up in New Delhi, remembers visiting his hometown in 2016 and falling sick quickly. The director said that is when he seriously started thinking about documenting the impact of pollution.
"It is not a story, it is an experience because I got really sick when I came to Delhi after a long journey. I had all things to protect myself from ecological contact. The intensity of the change was so high and so fast that I felt physically compelled to do what I did, make a film."
He also shared that even though he could have set “Invisible Demons” in different regions, New Delhi served as a perfect setting, as it also ranks as the most polluted place.
"I could have made the film about different and bigger regions of the country or the whole country itself. But, I thought that if it is concise and focused on one city, and in particular, the city in question also being in the news for being the most polluted spot on earth consistently for a while, and it also being my hometown, it just felt like the right limit or structure to pursue."
The director said he is aware he would not be able to please everyone with his work, however with “Invisible Demons” he hopes the audience might be able to connect with the theme of the film.
“I can never control who watches my work. If I am going to spend two or three years on something it better be good and hope people connect with it. I am not trying to please everybody but I do try to reach out to (more) people,” he said, adding, he predominantly makes movies for himself.
Jain, a graduate from the California Institute of the Arts, said books such as "Capital" by Rana Dasgupta, Amitav Ghosh's "The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable", "Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World" by Timothy Morton, "Underland" by Robert Macfarlane helped him in his research for the documentary.
The screening of the film, his second after "Machines", which was set in a garment factory in Gujarat, at Cannes, will hopefully expose the film to a wide variety of audiences, he said.
"As a cinema lover, I cannot fathom what to expect but I know it is a big deal because everybody thinks so. Personally, I am relieved as an artist that it is something that I worked on for years and it will have a life and hopefully it will be widely seen. I am glad I had the opportunity to bring this story out."
Jain hopes to release the film in India soon. PTI KKP BK RDS