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Released Films DAAYEN YA BAAYEN Directors Note
Bela Negi
"How terrible it would have been ... to have lived without even attempting to lay claim to one's portion of the earth; to have lived and died as one had been born, unnecessary and unaccomodated."  V.S. Naipaul (A House for Mr. Biswas) 

The film is a light hearted exploration of the quest for dignity, an individual's claim, metaphorically, to a portion of the earth, a spot under the sun that he can rightfully call his own a winding path marked by many pitfalls and dilemmas, hence the title 'Daayen Ya Baayen' which in English means 'Right or Left?'

The village that the protagonist, Ramesh returns to, has recently become part of the newly formed Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. Ramesh wants to make of this moment an opportunity for himself and his village. He will, often unwittingly, lead this fight against their own demons - of political inexperience, a diminishing sense of cultural identity and most importantly a lack of self-confidence.And will discover that for them, as for him, the real battle is within.

I belong to these regions and have strived to make a film that reflects the particular world view that evolves in one of these small hilly villages, which have been neglected by administration for years. Yet I believe that the themes of the film- an individual combating his fears of anonymity and transcending the limited vision of only seeing himself through other people's eyes - are universal themes.

Working with very limited resources and mostly in locations where there were no roads was a real challenge. Of the huge cast in the film only three of the main characters are professionals from Mumbai. The rest are local theatre actors and non actors from Uttarakhand. We proceeded in an informal manner letting the character details proceed from the actual physicality and personality of the actors.

Seeing the story of my parents village transform and come to life as we worked together with local people, I began feeling that the process of making a film about Uttarakhand was giving all of us a renewed sense of pride and belonging. There is hardly any regional cinema here to speak of. It was as though by inscribing the film image with a story that spoke of our land and us,  a step towards restoring a stronger sense of self was being taken; a sense that had diminished alarmingly under the neglect of successive administrations.

It felt as though the strong conviction of the otherwise deluded protagonist of the film, that culture and art can be a real answer to our society's problems, was being played out in real life.