Nirupama Sarma and Gautam Sonti

Creativity, 2019, Grantee Link >

Nirupama Sarma, an advocate working across Asia and Africa, and filmmaker Gautam Sonti, received a grant to produce a feature-length documentary film, which examines animal rights within the complex socio-cultural contexts of tradition and modernity, religion and class, consumerism and globalization. Nirupama and Gautam write:

The film’s overall mission is to center-stage the violence inflicted on animals in the name of food (which accounts for 80 percent of animal abuse), and thereby catalyze public discourse and collective action to redress this injustice. In doing so, the film advances the idea that animals have the right to lead lives free of violence and exploitation and that this is an inalienable element of the broader domain of social justice. The film also highlights health and environmental benefits of veganism. Meat and dairy consumption are major contributors to climate change, water wastage, pollution and deforestation.

Given the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, Nirupama and Gautam had to delay the release of the film, and it is currently in post-production. However, they screened a segment of the film at a webinar with Thus Collective in December 2020. Nirupama and members of Animal Left brought together leading Indian animal and human rights activists to create a dialogue on the intersectionality of animal rights. The webinar had over a hundred participants, and you can watch the recording here (48:20). A segment of the film was also screened at West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences where students engaged in an hour-long discussion on the complexities of animal rights and vegan discourse in India. In 2023, Nirupama and Gautam were interviewed by CAF 2023 Navab Fellow Gauri Kasarla on the progress of their film, which over four years had become even more complicated by the political and social “turns” in India.