Kakkoos filmmaker Divya Bharathi will soon be releasing her next documentary. Titled Orutharum Varela (Nobody Came), the film is a look at the devastation left behind by cyclone Ockhi.
Speaking to TNM, Divya said, "I mainly stayed in Kanyakumari which saw the greatest damage. I was there from December 9 to 27. In that period, I also travelled to Kerala and visited places like Poonthura which were affected by the cyclone. After this, I went to Nagapattinam and Cuddalore because a lot of fishermen who had died in Kanyakumari were from these places. Then I went to Thoothukudi - there were fishermen from there too who had gone on the Kumari boats. I shot for two days there. I also went to Pudhukottai."
Divya adds that the fishing community is a much marginalised section and that nobody is interested in representing their interests.
"We only look at the beach as a place for entertainment. It's only when I went there and stayed with those people that I understood how much politics is involved in this. Whether it's the BJP or the Congress, they don't want these people on the land or in the sea," she alleges.
More than the death toll (Divya says the cyclone itself could have killed only 10-15 people directly), it is the government's indifference towards rescue operations that will be the focus of Orutharum Varela.
"I wish to highlight the total failure of the IMD. Why wasn't a warning issued?" she asks, pointing out that an individual like the Tamil Nadu Weatherman is able to give weather forecasts in the morning but not a government body.
"Not a single MNC ship was affected by the cyclone. How did those ships go to the safe zone? Who informed them? Why weren't the fishermen told?" she questions.
Divya further comments on the interview given by Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, and levels allegations against the government's response: "She was so arrogant. I find it difficult to say this about a woman. I met everyone who'd gone on the rescue operations and I found out how fake much of it was. The people lost faith on the rescue ops and they took their own boats and went in search. That's when they recovered a number of corpses. On December 16, they towed two boats full of rescued fishermen via Kochi. The Navy didn't even help them to tow the boats - didn't they see the boats at all? That's impossible."
Divya also says that she had to be careful about shooting for the documentary as the police had allegedly arrested and harassed activists who had put up posters blaming the government for the tragedy.
"Though I was careful, I was called to the police station once and asked to show my ID card. They also asked me why I had a camera. I told them that I had come for my friend's wedding. They noted down the date of the 'wedding' and told me I had to leave after that and that I'd get into trouble if they saw me there," she claims.
Divya says that the shoot for the documentary was completed by January 8. She is currently editing the film and also working on a song that they can incorporate in the documentary.
"I'm hoping to finish everything by January 25. It should release hopefully in the first week of February," says Divya.