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Mann Ki Jeet has been officially selected at the Meraki Film Festival
About The Film
‘Mann Ki Jeet- A Tale Of Social Change Through Labour And Love’ is a short film on the concerted and grounds up endeavour of tribals of Salaiban to change their lives, led by a man who relies on strength of passion, purpose, physical labour and affinity to the locals to bring it about.
Manjit Singh: “Hello”
Me: “Kya aap shraam daan shivir karne wale hai” (Are you going to conduct a labour donation drive?)
Manjit: “Ji haa” (Yes)
Me: “Mein aana chahta hoo” (I wish to join it)
Manjit: “Aapka swagat hai. Hume badi khushi hogi” (You are welcome. We will like it if you come)
This was my first ever conversation with Manjit Singh.
Last summer,I heard from one of my acquaintances that a gentleman by the name Manjit Singh was trying to help tribals in a remote village in North Maharashtra. He was soliciting assistance from youth in building an earthen road for the natives of Salaiban. I was instantly charged up by the thought of going to a far off village and contributing to a good cause. No frills, only work and a sense of satisfaction that it yielded. I signed up and headed straight to Buldhana district.
I got myself in a train. It left Mumbai at night and reached by 6 in the morning at a station called Nandura (It’s on the main line that goes to Eastern India). From here I got aboard a rickety State Transport Bus to reach Jalgoan-Jamod, a major town 25 kilometers away. Fortunately, Manjit Singh had sent his colleague Dinesh a.k.a Dinubhau (Over there, every adult male is addressed as ‘bhau’ meaning brother, as a mark of respect) to give me a ride to Salaiban. It was further 15 kilometers away, a small tribal village at the foothills of Satpura.
When I reached there, the initial euphoria of working in the field was supplanted albeit partly by the grueling heat of the sun. It was the peak of summer and mercury in that region would easily push beyond 45 degrees Celsius. I’d never experienced that level of heat; I lived in Mumbai where it rarely crossed 36 degrees.
We would dig earth from one side of field, carry it in troughs on our heads and deposit on the other side where the road was being built. We would start at 6-30 in the morning and worked till 9 when the sun would come up enough to make the heat unbearable. The work continued after 5 in the evening for a couple of hours. Throughout the day it was a cat and mouse game between us and the shade as the sun traversed through the sky.
I made good acquaintance with Manjit Singh and began addressing him Manjitbhai. He was usually occupied in looking after the people who had come to attend his camp but made time for me whenever he could. We would have engaging chats on his pet project ‘Salaiban’. I learnt that he had relocated to the village to initiate social cum environmental projects for sustainable development of local tribes- Pavra, Bhilala and Nihal. His simplicity, his humility and his dedication to his cause soon became obvious to me over the 3 days I was there. Local people saw his as a demigod and participated wholeheartedly in all his initiatives.
On my last day he asked,”Rohanbhai, aapko yaha kaisa laga? Hum kya behtar kar sakte hai yaha pe?” (How did you like it here? How can we further improve the situation here?) He even called me when I was back in Mumbai to ask if I had reached safely. It was clear to me that I had met a man who although very passionate, never assumed the airs of knowing it all; He never hesitated asking suggestions from people. He sincerely believed in giving it back to the society in many ways. He never shied away from getting his hands dirty in the field.
I knew I had to help Manjit SIngh. The million dollar question was ‘how?’ An ardent social changemaker hardly cares about recognition and Manjit Singh was a quintessential one. He operated in a place which is remote to most big cities and has no access to a bigger audience. I was afraid that this could restrict his reach. I felt compelled to bring his story to a diverse set of audience youth, well-intentioned citizens, individual and institutional donors and anyone who could contribute in a meaningful way to his cause.
Being an impact filmmaker, the answer was as clear as day. I made up my mind to make a short film on him. So, in January this year I packed up my equipment and headed to Salaiban. I stayed there for a week with Manjit Singh in his modest tent and shot the film.
As a viewer I urge you to watch the film and hopefully you would get a glimpse into Manjit Singh’s world. Hopefully, by the end of the film, you will be able to appreciate that your contribution in any manner- donation of money, labour, goods of utility or simply a few words of advice can help in paving the path ahead for Manjit Singh.
Personally for me, it would be immensely gratifying if my short film helps Manjit Singh, even a small way, to bring in participation of more people into his cause.
Storyteller,Cinematographer & Producer
If you wish to contribute or help Manjit Singh, then you can make donations to Tarunai Foundation (Reg No. F/7322/BUL):
Account name: Tarunai Foundation
Bank Of Maharashtra, Khamgaon
Account number: 20125237995
PAN number: AABTT6218Q
Shankar Nagar,Khamgaon- 444303
Buldhana District, Maharashtra
If you wish to speak with Manjit Singh, then you can call him on: