Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2023 Day 6: Borderlands and Follower review

Karishma Jangid
Updated On
New Update
Borderlands and Follower

The documentary 'Borderlands' and the film 'Follower' were screened at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2023. Borderland revolves around the lives of people living near borders. Follower explores hatred and propaganda spread via social media. 

When we hear the term borders, we think of lines that divide nations, and soldiers standing guard. We think of foreign ministers making speeches or headlines in national media about scuffles between armies. In his documentary 'Borderlands', Samarth Mahajan ignores the regular and instead focuses on people who live near the borders. 

The documentary talks to multiple women and one man. Many of these women have migrated from neighbouring countries to India - by marriage, trafficking, ethnic tensions, and other reasons. From Jodhpur to Imphal and West Bengal to Nepal, the crew spoke with various people and explored how borders affect them, how borders bring a sense of insecurity to some, shelter to some, and patriotism to some. The people and their stories are heartwrenching at times, but the documentary's gaze isn't pitiful. It is soft, curious, sensitive, and empathetic. Terrorism, trafficking, education, dreams, the documentary discusses it all, but always with sensitivity. The camera gives people the space to be vulnerable and the authority to tell their own stories. Borderlands make you weep one minute, and cry the next. Eventually, it concludes with a soulful song that becomes the heart of the documentary.

One of the easiest-selling commodities in today's social media markets is hate. Along the lines of race, religion, class, caste, nationality and many other labels, propaganda and false news are spread to divide and rule. The gullible ones internalise the hatred and the ones who counter end up becoming victims. This epidemic of fake news and subsequent hate crimes has inspired filmmakers lately to make people aware. One such attempt is Harshad Nalawade's film 'Follower'

Raghavendra Pawar aka Raghu (Raghu Prakash) is a Marathi man living in Belgaum, an area where Maharashtrians and Kannadas are constantly at loggerheads. Maharashtrian folks have consistently demanded that Belgaum be incorporated in Maharastra while Kannada folks believe the land belongs to Karnataka. We meet Raghu in a police station. He has been arrested for being responsible for his friend's murder. While uncovering what led to this, the film comments on the social media accounts that have built an economy out of spreading fake news and propaganda, leaders who use provocative speeches to get their way, and the vulnerable who blindly believe their leaders. The film also asks the controversial question of what you do when you have different ideologies than your friends and kin. Do you sever ties or do you empathise and try to find a common ground? 

The film's best part is the acting. The lead actor, Prakash totally steals the show. He inspires hate and pity at the same time. The script is interesting and important, but somehow does not let itself go all the way. The film could have been much more effective if the script had explored the topic more. Nevertheless, Follower remains an engaging and vital watch.

Borderlands and Follower had its Indian premiere at Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival this year!

For more such content, follow us @socialketchupbinge

borderlands review follower review