Video | Trailer to “Have you seen the arana?” – Kerala

“The stories of ancestors and their discoveries give the film a mystical quality and work like a poetic refrain” – Review by Bikas Mishra

Three narratives from distinct landscapes – rice fields, forest and plantations – reveal different ways of engaging with land. 

Award winning documentary by Sunanda Bhat (Bangalore)

More about this film

In 2013 the documentary was presented at the 23rd edition of the African, Asian and Latin American Film Festival (Milan, Italy). It was selected for the Jean Rouch Film Festival in Paris and will be shown in Fiji, at the Salento Film Festival (Italy) and the Parnu Festival (Estonia).

Best Documentary Film Award, 3rd Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival – 13
“To Mark the Birth Anniversary of ‘Father of Indian Cinema’ on 30 April 2013”

Honorable Mention, “Documentary Feature” category at the International Film Festival for Environment, Health, and Culture, Jakarta 2013

The International Film Festival for Environment, Health, and Culture was established by some individuals who concerns for betterment of humanity, as a means of supporting and promoting filmmakers all over the world, and by uplifting the film industry, we hope to participate in a cleaner and better environment, raising the quality of life, and intercultural dialogues for better acceptance and deeper understanding of people and diversity in life.

Source: About International Film Festivals
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Date Visited: Thu Apr 11 2013 12:47:00 GMT+0200 (CEST)


Have You Seen the Arana? has been awarded the Prize “MONDE EN REGARDS” by INALCO Jury of the 32nd Jean Rouch International Film Festival
Citation: “For its anthropological relevance as it traces the impact of economic changes on nature and society, while interweaving an original myth of the place.”

The International Jury of the Festival awarded a Special Mention, the Anthropology and Sustainable Development Prize, with the following citation “A film of great aesthetic quality, that makes us consider the fragility of oral-based knowledge about nature”

Updated information is found on

Supporting team

Cinematography: Saumyananda Sahi
Editing: Tanushree Das
Consultant editor: Bina Paul
Sound: Christopher Burchell
Research: Arun P.A., Secretary, Ferns Naturalists Society (Mananthavady)

Award citation “For its extraordinarily compassionate understanding of the harmony between nature and man and the imminent danger of its destruction. This documentary is remarkable also for its restrained yet humane expression.”

The film is a lyrical journey through Wayanad, in South India. Part of the fragile ecosystem of the western mountain range, this region is witnessing rapid transformation in the name of ‘development’.

A woman’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, knowledge systems and 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.

Source: Have you seen the arana Trailer – YouTube
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Date Visited: 5 October 2020

Duration (full version): 72 min.

Online viewing

Price: India ₹250 (link will be active for a week). Please enquire for international rates:

Order address and other inquiries: 
Songline Films
817, 2 D Cross
8th Main
HRBR I Block
Bangalore 560043

Homepage and email address: >>

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“Tribal communities are a standing example of how women play a major role in preservation of eco historic cultural heritage in India.” – Mari Marcel Thekaekara (writer and Co-Founder of ACCORD-Nilgiris) | Learn more >>

“The forest was never far away from habitation. For instance, excavations of the settlements at Atranjikhera and Hastinapur, which are not too far from Delhi, have yielded evidence of a large variety of forest trees. The Buddhist Canon states that aside from the village and its outskirts, the rest of the land is jungle. Travelling from one town to another meant going through a forest. Therefore, when in exile, the forest was not a physically distant place, although distant in concept. – Romila Thapar (Emeritus Professor of History, Jawaharlal Nehru University) in “Forest dwellers in early India – myths and ecology in historical perspective” | Learn more >>

“The British established mode of forest governance imposed restrictions on local forest-dwelling communities. In 1860, the Company withdrew all access rights for using the forests (food, fuel, medicine and selling forest products) since the forests and forest-dwelling communities provided refuge to the rebels during the Sepoy Mutiny.” – Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation >>

“Tribal population was spread all over India and most of them occupied wild tracts, hilly and forested areas, away from more civilized centers. In 1880 their population was estimated at about seventy million. They had existed for centuries with their own social traditions and beliefs and subsisted on natural resources. They had preserved their near isolation and way of life until the British administration and policies made inroads into their territories.” – Subha Johari in Tribal Dissatisfaction Under Colonial Economy of 19th Century >>

“Tribal communities have proven that they are the best guardians of the forest and die-hard conservationists”: Illegal mining destroys the life and culture of the conservators of forests >>

“Even though they are responsible for protecting the largest part of the global forest heritage […] a third of indigenous and community lands in 64 countries are under threat due to the lack of land tenure rights.” – Pressenza Rio de Janerio in “Indigenous people are heading to CoP26: ‘There is no solution to the climate crisis, without us’” (Down To Earth, 1 November 2021) >>

Usage in legal and historical records

“Two main streams within Indian anthropology influenced the literary and visual representations of tribes by mainstream writers, artists and film-makers.” – Dr. Ivy Hansdak clarifies how they are associated with “assimilationist” and “isolationist” positions or policies >>

In Marginalised but not Defeated, Tarun Kanti Bose (a seasoned public interest journalist) “documents the hard and difficult struggle to implement the Forest Rights Act, how the oppressed adivasis have united into forest unions, how they are now entering into new thresholds of protracted struggles and victories in a non-violent manner.” | Learn more: >>

“Tribal men and women mix freely, but with respect for each other [but] caste Hindu society in India is so convinced of its own superiority that it never stops to consider the nature of social organisation among tribal people. In fact it is one of the signs of the ‘educated’ barbarian of today that he cannot appreciate the qualities of people in any way different from himself – in looks or clothes, customs or rituals.” – Guest Column in India Today >>

Learn more about colonial policies, the Forest Rights Act, its importance for ecology, biodiversity, ethnobotany and nutrition, and about the usage of Adivasi (Adibasi) communities in different states of India: in legal and historical records, in textbooks, scholarly papers and the media >>

Learn more

Ecology and environment

Education and literacy | Right to education

eLearning | “National development and the development of tribal communities are linked to each other”: Droupadi Murmu – 15th President of India

| Media portrayal

Have you seen the Arana?

“Is tribal identity relevant in today’s world?” Inaugural Speech for “Tribes In Transition-II: Reaffirming Indigenous Identity Through Narrative” (National Conference 2017) – New Delhi

People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI)

Sacred grove | Sarna



Women | Safe search | President Droupadi Murmu on women’s empowerment