Manthan - The Churning (1976)
Manthan relates the story of a young urban group headed by a veterinary doctor, which is sent by an organization to a poor village in order to help start a milk cooperative.
As they proceed, they come up against two kinds of vested interests. One, a private contractor who has been exploiting the village for years and two, the village headmen who sees in the cooperative a means to strengthen his own power.The team leader, who can see this thinks that if he could get the poor majority (who also happen to belong to the harijan community - or the out-castes) into the cooperative, he can thwart the headman.
This is not as easy as he imagines. He picks a natural leader from among them, Bhola. Bhola is initially against this outside intrusion in his village. He suspects all outsiders and sees them only as exploiters. He has good reason. His own father, an urban contractor, abandoned his mother. And one of the members of the group is already carrying on with a village girl. Gradually, he comes to see the value of the cooperative.
In the process, however, the dormant caste antagonisms are brought to the surface and cause a clash. This results in the burning of the harijans' huts. The private contractor sees this opportunity to get back his influence with the villagers. Everything appears to have reverted to the way it always was. The village goes back to the old ways. The team now in despair, is asked by the organisation to leave the village. There is one ray of hope, Bhola. He has seen what the cooperative means for a village.
Manthan has been sponsored by 500,000 farmers of Gujarat, constituents of the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation.
This is the first time in India that a feature film has been financed by farmers. Several new trails have been blazed by them; the "Anand Pattern" of dairy development, which today has been adopted all over the country, was also their contribution. Their dairy cooperatives illustrated how small farmers could triumph over adversity. Appropriately, the theme of "MANTHAN" is the churning up of the social structure when the milk cooperative movement erodes the power of traditional bosses in a village.
The Director: SHYAM BENEGAL
Shyam Benegal has made over 30 documentaries on various subjects: sociological, anthropological, cultural, industrial and a series of three TV films on concepts in Indian classical music and has won several awards for commercials and documentary films.
Shyam Benegal scored a hit with his first feature film ANKUR. Extracting masterly performances from an unknown cast, his brilliant direction resulted in several national and international awards for ANKUR.
He followed with another highly-acclaimed film, NISHANT. His recent children's film CHARANDAS CHOR has also received favourable mentio