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This Chennai-based architect’s documentary aims to educate citizens about waste management

Deepika Rao
24th Jul 2018
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Vishnu Priya’s documentary highlights the need to regain environmental sustainability, and generate awareness about the growing concern over waste disposal and solutions to reduce the burden on the environment.

Vishnu Priya

It’s the 21st century and everyone talks about bringing sustainable interventions to conserve the environment in different ways.

Vishnu Priya, a Chennai-based architect believes in the same mission. Her simple initiative to design an eco-sensitive toilet took her all over the country, where she realised waste disposal was a huge problem and there was an immediate need for sustainable solutions in this regard.

“I heard about a community toilet in Musiri, Tiruchirapalli that consumed less water. When I saw it, it got me thinking as to why this model wasn’t followed anywhere else. So many bureaucrats and other high placed officials came to see this toilet and praised it. But no one wanted to do anything to spread this concept to the rest of the country,” Vishnupriya said.

Meel - the documentary

In this town, the waste management system was what caught Vishnu Priya’s eye. Appart from the fact that the community sent much less waste to the landfill, the way it spoke of solutions, was what inspired her documentary - Meel.

A still from the shoot.
“Meel is a Tamil word which translates to ‘regain what we have lost’. The work on the documentary began two years ago with most of the funding coming in from my friends. We travelled across India to various places including the villages of Ladakh. The idea was to understand waste management practices and highlight sustainable solutions that have been in practice for more than ten years. The documentary will be released in both English and Tamil,” Vishnu Priya added.

While not focusing on monetary gains, the documentary will be available on open source for free so that more people could benefit and adapt solutions to waste management showcased in the movie.

Learnings

While filming the documentary, Vishnu Priya and her team have also undergone a transformational learning curve. From the pollution of the Yamuna river to the contamination of lakes in Bengaluru, the documentary highlights the increasing harm we are causing to the environment.

“The growing population has also added to the woes of the environment. Dumping organic and inorganic matter together in landfills has increased the contamination of ground-water which impacts the health of people living in areas near such landfills. The extent of this is so large that in Chennai, breast milk was found to be highly contaminated,” Vishnu Priya said.

Crowd-funding

Now in its post-production phase, Vishnu Priya and her team are using crowdfunding as a means to boost their documentary so that it reaches a wider audience.

Meel poster.
“By the end of July, we aim to raise Rs 3.5 lakh. So far we have raised Rs 1.45 lakh. Our team is heavily invested in this project because they believe in the film and the cause. We are falling short of funds to oversee the completion of the documentary. We truly believe that it will help bring change in the way we see waste and how it should be dealt with,” she added.

The documentary has already gained attention in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and was also screened at the International Film Festivals in Prague and Czech Republic. The completion of this documentary, Vishnu Priya says is all the more important because of the increasing recognition it has garnered.

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