In a world that has grown more dynamic and uncertain, where diversity and differences make way for standardization and uniformity, the film explores the effects of a rapidly changing landscape on lives and livelihoods. Set in Wayanad, in South India, ‘Have you seen the arana?’ is a journey through a rich and bio-diverse region that is witnessing drastic transformation in the name of ‘development’.
A traditional healer’s concern over the disappearance of medicinal plants from the forest, a farmer’s commitment to growing traditional varieties of rice organically and a cash crop cultivator’s struggle to survive amidst farmers’ suicides, offer fresh insights into shifting relations between people, their knowledge systems and the environment.
Interwoven into contemporary narratives is an ancient tribal creation myth that traces the passage of their ancestors across this land, recalling past ways of reading and mapping the terrain.
As hills flatten, forests disappear and traditional knowledge systems are forgotten, the film reminds us that this diversity could disappear forever, to be replaced by monotonous and unsustainable alternatives.
Sunanda’s interest in documentaries is to represent people living on the margins of a fascinatingly intricate and stratified Indian society. Unravelling these layers reveal glimpses of lives that are often far more interesting than fiction. “Have you seen the arana?” is her first feature length documentary. She has worked on the film over 6 years, looking for ways to represent the complexity of the people and place.