Review: Nero’s Guests (the age of inequality)











Review: Nero’s Guests (the age of inequality)

Director: Deepa Bhatia

Duration: 52 min

Reviewer: Saqib Manzoor (Sem 5)

Nero’s Guests is a poignant, harrowing, plaintive, and insightful documentary featuringcP. Sainath former Rural Affairs Editor of The Hindu, that delves into the surging exploitation of farmers, farmer suicides, hunger, poverty, the sad state of women in the agrarian sector, and unfathomable and contemptible silence of mainstream media. Nearly 200,000 farmers have committed suicide in India over the last 10 years but the mainstream media hardly reflects this.

This over-50 minute long documentary by Deepa Bhatia, highlights the struggles of the farmers, and the efforts of a lone journalistic crusader Mr. P. Sainath.

The documentary unveils the dark side of one’s in power, and the despicable and abhorred silence of mainstream media that should have carried forward their woes and cries. It also feeds us with crumbs of information; about how western cooperations are successful in exploiting the farmers belonging to different countries including India.

  1. Sainath has done a shoe-leather reporting as we see him visiting the households of poor farmers who committed suicide in the slums where farmers live a pathetic life. We can also see him driving to and walking through the fields of poor farmers that bear nothing but mourns and wails. P. Sainath was moved by the doleful and excruciating tales (unheard) of farmers.The documentary unveils the despicable and abhorred silence of mainstream media that should have carried forward their woes and cries. It also feeds us with crumbs of information; about how western cooperations are successful in exploiting the farmers belonging to different countries including India.

While interacting with the other members of the victim’s family, P. Sainath finds their agony depicted by the walls, faces, eyes and voices. They didn’t commit suicide out of curiosity/will but certain things/organisations forced them to take a such horrifying step. Loans, official  policies, costly fertilizers and sprays and in addition to these, none ready to listen to themcompelledthem to leave their family in pitiable conditions.

‘ In 1998 one suicide was reported per week but now one suicide per day,” as mentioned in it. This statement should make us contemplate the contemporary situation in the country. This country may have advanced in other sectors in terms of technology, prosperity, income etc. but the sector of agriculture__ India is most dependent on__  is witnessing increasing suicides, poverty, hunger and less production.

  1. Sainath comes across a man who detested suicide and would reprimand those thinking about such horrible step but later on, the man himself became the victim. At times, these men would find ephemeral relief in venting on paper in the form of poetry. A farmer used to express his pain and agony through poetry. His daughter found the papers, full of sorrowful poems while cleaning the house on Diwali. This poetry was not about the separated lover, romance, or love songs but the farming and the sufferance they had to go through.

Politically free media is snubbing them. They are thirsty and hungry for commercial advertisements that give them profit. Hardly, we can find a story related to the farmers and increasing suicides. When fashion shows, millionaires’ or billionaires’ event/conference is held in any part of the country, the media personalities can be seen carrying camera mics after them like snarling canines looking for a lump of meat. Big hoardings, billboards, and banners, installed at different junctions of the city, display popular models, actors, branded watches and many a time, official schemes but hardly we see one dedicated to farmers or related to their poor conditions. That should have been the main medium of making people aware of what is happening in the countryside but alas, these are for filling the hungry protruding bellies. Sadly, there is ‘not a single reporter/correspondent to report on poverty’ in the country. Drawing from this statement, we can see how important is this issue for media.

We see through this documentary how elites/millionaires/billionaires want to help the poor/farmers by consuming the products such as champagne in great quantities so that they produce more. This is how they want to extirpate poverty. Generously, they want to sit in pubs, cafes, and bars and relish the cookies, cakes, drinks, and food while poor and hungry farmers work tirelessly in their fields to make these products. This is so despicable and unacceptable. Those products carry the sweat and blood of farmers but the rich want to help( exploit) them on different levels. Even this document shows us how someone wants to know the depressing conditions of farmers by just meeting the officials and people who spend most of their time in their Air-conditioning rooms. These men who wear suits, ties,and boots want to make rules for the farmers who got blisters, bruises, and wounds. The journalist was successful in organising a meeting with the farmers and victims’ families. It shows us how finance minister reached Dalla Street in just two hours when the stock market plummeted disastrously but it took a minster ten years to know about the grief-stricken farmers. This tells us the administration is the puppet of riches and is callous towards the poor. This is so reprehensible.

Even, when people are starving in the country, we are exporting their food to other countries which makes Indian farmers wish to be a European cowson which two dollars are spent daily by their owners.

Big malls, buildings, billboards, and mannequins in cities are lit up with 24×7 electricity but in the countryside where the majority of the population of India resides and are poor and farmers don’t see any sign of it for at least 18 hours.

Women are becoming widows. Children are orphaned. They are left with nothing but haunting memories. Children at tender are forced to take responsibilities of family and work in the fields. With no experience in hand, they are left depressed and despondent. They breathe the air of despondency. Women are forced to travel to far-flung areas to get work. For this, they leave their home, and children behind in the wee hours of the morning and return home in the dark hours of the night. It was saddening to see a working woman saying, “ It seems my child doesn’t even recognize me.” Women of different ages and children have been forced to take to the streets and protest against the unacceptable and harmful policies. A poem of a child beseeching mother for bread moved and saddened me. It was written by a farmer, a poet also, who committed suicide.

After much hard work, P. Sainath was able to address parliamentarians and different people (at events) where he would make them cognizant of the plight of farmers. He starts his speech with Nero (Roman Emperor) who once threw a grand party to which many eminent, prominent people were invited. Soon, Nero was flustered about how to illuminate the garden amid the darkness. An idea popped up in his mind. He brought the criminals and prisoners into the garden and set them on fire. In this way, he lit up his garden and party but none of the guests questioned this atrocity and gruesome act of Nero. Last but not least, we should not be a ‘Nero’s Guest’ and die a death of utter cowardice and shame.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *