In this age of social media, everyone has a story of struggle to share with the world! But then there are some filmmakers, who are showcasing the stories of others. Actor-turned-director Deana Kaur Uppal in her first documentary, titled India’s Forgotten People, presents the life of the people of Gaddia Lohar community in Rajasthan, with whom she filmed for almost one year.
A community of royal blacksmiths that once held importance in the king’s court (Maharana Pratap), they are now on their own. With no papers to prove their existence and no permanent residence, they lead a nomadic life. Deana says, “My intent was to film the lives of an unexplored community, but once I began to investigate about them, I came to know about bigger issues that were unknown or misunderstood. I have found how positive, happy and content they were despite being poor as well as neglected. From not being allowed to draw water from the wells to other prejudices, they have faced a lot. Remarkably, they are a very peaceful community yet.”
Empathising with the ‘vulnerable’ comes naturally to Deana, as she had a difficult childhood due to financial and emotional issues after losing her father to cancer at the age of 10. She adds, “And a lot of credit goes to me being an explorer with a curious mind, who likes to research before coming to conclusions.”
The lockdown was a blessing in disguise for Deana, as she got to work on the post-production part of the documentary. Learning how to play tennis is also something she is occupied with these days.
Living in the UK with her mother, she learnt film-making from the London Film Academ. With no siblings to talk to, she learnt how to make independent decisions from an early age.
While she wishes she had a sister for it does get lonely at times, Deana confesses she is good friends with people who are elder to her and they do not hesitate to share their honest opinions on her ideas. The proud moment till date, she says, “Was to finally gift my mother a new house when I was 22 years old. Also, I am proud of my roots and wish to do my next project in Punjab.” Her ancestral village is near Phagwara in Punjab.
Her first love, acting, led her to Mumbai 10 years ago, but she couldn’t get the kind of roles she wanted. However, she has done reality shows like Big Brother in the UK and Khatron Ke Khiladi Season 5 in India. Having done a movie, Hard Kaur, in Punjabi, as for the future she says, “My focus is on direction now.”
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