Every now and then, the lush green of the hills is hacked by wastelands of bleeding red earth and limbless tree stumps. Over these, a signboard ‘India Aluminium Inc’.-with a big eye-keeps an eerie, humming, omnipotent watch. And it i with riveting cinematic metaphors like this that Devashish Makhija transitions his film Oonga into a powerful novel that sits deep in the clash between adivasis, naxalites, the CRPF and a rapacious mining company.
At the heart of the churn is the little Dongria Kondh boy, Oonga. Desperate to see a performance of ‘Sitaharan’, he goes on an epic journey to the big city-to return as the blue adivasi prince of the forest, Rama himself! And, Rama-like, he must now take on the gun-wielding demons who have swooped on his village after abducting its passionately idealistic but pragmatic teacher, Hemla didi. With echoes of real incidents, a filmmaker’s flair, a cast of unforgettable forward to expose the dystopia of ‘development’ and conflict of ideologies, complicated by the faultlines of language. Showing how peaceful people become victims of brutal violence and are forced into battles they don’t want to fight.