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ningal aranaye kando? | have you seen the arana?


In a world that has grown more dynamic and uncertain, where diversity and differences make way for standardization and uniformity, the film explores the effects of a rapidly changing landscape on lives and livelihoods. Set in Wayanad, in South India, ‘Have you seen the arana?’ is a journey through a rich and bio-diverse region that is witnessing drastic transformation in the name of ‘development’

A traditional healer’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, their knowledge systems and the 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.


director’s statement

I first visited Wayanad in 2006 to understand the effects of an ongoing agricultural crisis on landless labour. An intense period of research revealed stories of exploitation and struggle. As my involvement with the place and people grew, a new texture slowly emerged. I began to appreciate an incredibly vibrant landscape that exists in spite of rapid transformations in the name of ‘development’.

Research over 5 years involved numerous travels by bus. A single bus journey would often mean traversing diverse terrains; rice fields in the valleys, tea, coffee and rubber plantations along slopes, ending in dense forests on hilltops. The varied terrain when seen through the bus window juxtaposed interestingly with the energy of life that pulsated within the bus.

As my involvement with the people and place grew, I looked for means to bring this positive energy into a film that was initially more about ‘victims of an exploitative culture’, rather than equal stakeholders. I began exploring how to allow the landscape and people to speak.

I looked for ways to interweave bus journeys with the wetness and dryness of seasons, contours of the land and textures of faces; all these being intricately related. I decided to tell the story of Wayanad through the lives of three ‘ordinary’ people, who engage in different ways with the land.

Through these years I was also fascinated by an ancient tribal creation myth. Sung for the dead, even in present times, this pulapattu or ‘song for the dead’ traces the travels of a mythical couple across Wayanad. The myth is chanted in the hope that souls of the dead will find their way back to their ancestors. This lyrical myth of the Adiya tribe became the thread to interweave contemporary stories of people and their land.

My interest was in making a film that would throw fresh light on how places can be ‘imaged’ and ‘imagined’, while encouraging us to reflect on our attitudes to the environment.

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M P Kalan is a moopan or elder of the Adiya tribe. He is one of the few remaining tribals who can sing the pulapattu, normally performed as part of the rituals for the dead. He lives with his son in Thrissleri, Wayanad.

P K Kariyan was the President of Thirunelli Panchayat (local governing body) and is a moopan or elder of the Adiya tribe. He learnt the pulapattu or ‘song for the dead’ from his uncle P K Kalan, the renowned Gadiga artist. Kariyan, with his troupe of young adivasis, is invited all over Kerala to perform the Gadiga (an invocation to the Goddess Malli).

Kariyan lives in Thrissleri, Wayanad.

Jochi N P is a traditional healer and belongs to the Adiya tribe. She is part of a local tribal initiative that protects and regenerates disappearing medicinal plant species from the evergreen forests of North Wayanad. Her interest in medicinal herbs and plants came about when she used to accompany her father, also a healer, to the forest as a child. Jochi has been witness to the rapid spread of tourism in this region. Along with a local schoolteacher she has garnered the support of tribal communities in Thirunelli to protest against the mushrooming of tourist resorts.

Jochi, a mother of two, lives in Thirunelli in North Wayanad.

Raman Cheruvayil belongs to the Kurichya tribe, who are known for their knowledge of traditional rice cultivation. Along with his wife Geetha, he collaborates with NGOs to grow and preserve over 30 varieties of indigenous rice species. Raman regularly holds workshops for children, sharing his knowledge of traditional farming. He lives with his family in Kammana in Manathavady, Wayanad.

Raman recently won the P V Thampy Endowment Award for his work in the area of traditional farming.

George Joseph belongs to a Syrian Christian family that migrated to Wayanad from South Kerala. Lured by the possibility of quick returns he has been trying his hand at cultivating ginger in the neighbouring state of Karnataka. However a sharp drop in ginger prices has badly affected his prospects. George is now looking at ways to go back to Saudi Arabia to make good his loss.

George lives with his wife and 2 daughters in Pulpally, Wayanad.

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Sunanda Bhat

Concept & Direction: Sunanda Bhat 

Sunanda worked on 'Have you seen the arana?' over 6 years, looking for ways to capture and represent the complexity of the people and place. Much of the film rests on the relationships she was able to build with the characters over this period. She was inspired by what David McDougall, an ethnographic filmmaker said: "Before films are a form of representing, they are a form of looking… With a certain interest, a certain will. To look carefully requires strength, calmness and affection. The affection cannot be in the abstract, it must be an affection of the senses."

Selected Filmography:
‘Have you seen the arana?’ (2012)
‘Ini oru Vidhi Syvoam’ (2010)
Athani to Dusseldorf (2006)
Yoga As Therapy, TV series (2004)
‘Nalai Nammadai’ (2002)
‘Bol Ayesha Bol’ (1998)

Saumyananda Sahi

Cinematography: Saumyananda Sahi

Somo is a final year Cinematography student at the Film and Television Institute of India. He was the youngest participant in the Talent Campus India in 2004, and was selected for the Berlinale Talent Campus at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2005. Over the last ten years Somo has directed and produced many short films, and worked as a cinematographer with several directors. He has founded Skreen Films, an independent production company along with his partner, Tanushree Das.
He has won the Best Cinematography Award for this film at the Mumbai International Film Festival and Jeevika Asia Livelihood Film Festival.

Selected Filmography:
‘Rangabhoomi’ Dir: Kamal Swaroop
‘For you and me’ Dir: Tanushree Das
‘Death at 30∘angle’ Dir: Bani Abidi
‘Composing a Carpet’ Dir: Vasanth Nath
‘Warli Painting: Past Present Future’ Dir: Tanushree Das
'Chai ' Dir: Gitanjali Rao

Editing Consultant: Bina Paul

Bina is an alumnus of the Film and TV Institute of India, Pune. She has edited over 35 feature films and has worked with leading filmmakers in India. She is a recipient of two National Awards and numerous State Awards for editing. She is also the Artistic Director of the International Film Festival of Kerala. Bina has served on Film Juries at numerous festivals including Berlin, Durban, Locarno, Romania and Zanzibar and is a regular guest faculty at the Film and TV Institute of India.

Selected Filmography:
‘Amma Ariyan’ Dir: John Abraham
‘Agnisakshi’ Dir: Shyamaprasad
‘Mitr, My Friend’ Dir: Revathi
‘Dance like a Man’ Dir: Pamela Rooks
‘In Othello’ Dir: Roysten Abel
‘Daya’ Dir: Venu

Gaffer & Editor: Tanushree Das

Tanushree has a postgraduate diploma in editing from the Film and Television Institute of India. She has edited films for several directors and also acts and directs plays in theatre. She has also worked in Theater, as actor and director. She has directed and produced a number of non-fiction films and short-fiction. Tanushree presently heads Skreen Films, an independent production house, with her partner, Saumyananda Sahi.
She has won the Best Editor Award for this film at the Jeevika Asia Livelihood Film Festival.

Selected Filmography:
‘Rangabhoomi’ (2013)
‘Chai’ (2013)
‘For you and me’ (2012)
‘Death at 30∘angle’ (2012)
Composing a Carpet (2011)
Warli Painting: Past Present Future (2011)

Location Sound: Christopher Burchell

A student of fine art, Chris has been interested in the business of sound for over 12 years. He has also been a part of several sound installations in Bangalore. He currently works with location audio recording and sound post production for documentaries, short films and television series. He is a visiting faculty at the Shrishti School of Design, Bangalore. He won the Best Sound Award for this film at the Mumbai International Film Festival.

‘Chai’ (2013)
‘Indelibes’ (2012)
‘Death at 30∘angle’ (2012)
‘Desi Power’ (2006)
‘Ini Oru Vidhi Syvoam’ (2010).

Sound Design: P M Satheesh

Satheesh did Sound Engineering and Recording at the Film and Television Institute of India. He won the National Award for best sound recording and design for ‘Kumar Talkies’. He has worked on more than 15 Feature films and 120 documentaries for broadcasters such as BBC, French Television, National Film Board of Canada, Channel 4 UK, National Geographic and many others. Satheesh set up
Fireflys Post Sound an exclusive sound design studio in Mumbai.

Selected Filmography:
‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ Dir: Mira Nair
‘Jai Bhim Comrade’ Dir: AnandPatwardhan
‘Road Movies’ Dir: Dev Benegal
‘Kaminey’, Dir: Vishal Bharadwaj
‘Peter Gaya Kaam Se’ Dir: John Ovens
‘15 Park Avenue’ Dir: Aparna Sen.

Research & Production: Arun P.A.

Arun is a founder member of the FERNS Naturalists Society in Manathavady, Wayanad. As part of FERNS he conducts nature education camps and field trips with school children on biodiversity, natural resource conservation, revival of traditional food crops and agricultural methods in Wayanad. He has done projects for the State Government on the mapping of the river Kabini and sand auditing along the river Mananthavady. Arun has been closely involved in the research and making of ‘Have you seen the Arana?’.

Research & Production: Sibi Pulpally

Sibi is a professional still photographer. He won the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi Award in 2009 for his picture ‘kalukal urangunilla’ (legs never sleep). He has also made a few educational films in Wayanad and is an active member of the Kabini Film Society. He has worked on ‘Have you seen the arana?’ for 5 years and has been closely involved with the research and making of the film. Sibi runs a photo studio in Pulpally, Wayanad.

Stereo Mix : Tapas Nayak | Translators : Govind Menon, Rohini Nair | Subtitle translation : Pramod Shankar | Graphic Designer : Anisha Chacko



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past screenings

let's talk
  • Small Town Film Festival, Gangtok, Sikkim
  • Quotes from the Earth Film Festival 2014, India International Centre, 40, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi
  • INDIEARTH XCHANGE 2014, Screening Room, The Park, 01 Nungambakkam High Road, Anna Salai, Chennai.
  • IRIS Film Festival | closing film, E.M.S. Seminar Complex, University of Calicut, Calicut.
  • Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, Vishwakarma Government Engineering College Complex, New CG Road, Chandkheda, Ahmedabad.
  • TINAI ECO FILM FESTIVAL 2014, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Youth Development, Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu.
  • Verzio Human Rights film Festival, Budapest, Hungary
  • IDPA, Little Theatre, NCPA, Mumbai
  • Garden City College, Bangalore.
  • International Food Film & VideoDiversity Festival, Trento, Italy
  • Vikalp@Prithvi, Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai
  • Fair Trade India - "A field of dreams", Goethe Institute, Max Mueller Bhavan, Bangalore
  • Moab International Film Festival, UT, USA
  • Tisch School of the Arts, New York
  • University of Pennsylvania, Dept of Landscape Architecture, Philadelphia, PA
  • The Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA
  • University of Massachusetts, Boston
  • International Intangible Heritage Film Festival 2014 (IIHFF 2014), S.Korea
  • Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology, Hyderabad
  • Samvaada, Kavade, Seshadripuram, Bangalore.
  • Goethe-Zentrum Hyderabad
  • Project Native Film Festival, Housatonic, MA 01236
  • Folklore Film Festival, Thrissur, Kerala
  • International Health Film Festival, Belgium
  • International Women's Film Festival, Hyderabad
  • IAWRT Asian Women's Film Festival, India International Centre, 40 Max Mueller Marg , New Delhi.
  • Rishi Valley School, Madanapalle, Andhra Pradesh.
  • Social Communications Media | SCM, Mumbai.
  • Mumbai International Film Festival, MIFF
  • TiNai Eco Film Festival, BITS-Pilani, K. K. Birla Goa Campus, Zuari Nagar, Goa.
  • Srishti School of Design, Bangalore.
  • Indian Society of Landscape Architects @ Alliance Francaise de Bangalore.
  • The FD ZONE, Mumbai.
  • Vikalp@Alliance, Churchgate, Mumbai.
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
  • Indian Institute of Technology
  • Dhaka International Film Festival
  • Natural History Museum of Toulouse, France.
  • 15th Madurai International Film Festival, Pawai, Mumbai.
  • Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival, Toronto, Canada
  • 32nd Jean Rouch International Film Festival, Paris, France.
  • International Festival Signes de Nuit, Paris.
  • 8th Seattle South Asian Film Festival.
  • Mumbai Women's International Film Festival
  • Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Fest.
  • Ladakh International Film Festival. Ladakh, India.
  • 10th Salento Film Festival, Tricase, Italy.
  • India Film Week, Hamburg, Germany.
  • Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE)
  • Jeevika Livelihood Film festival, New Delhi.
  • Centre for Contemporary Studies, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
  • International Film Festival of India, Goa.
  • 27th Parnu International Documentary and Anthropology Film Festival, Estonia.
  • Female Eye Film Festival, Toronto, Canada.
  • 6th International Documentary and Short Film Festival,Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
  • 23rd African, Asian and Latin American Film Festival, Milan, Italy.
  • 2nd International Film Festival of Fiji.
  • Green Unplugged, Online Film Festival.
  • Chaaya Awards, International Film Festival of Thrissur, Kerala.
  • International Film Festival for Environment, Health and Culture, Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival, Noida, India.
  • Nasik International Film Festival.
  • Urban Lens Festival, Indian Institute for Habitat Settlement, Bangalore.
  • Azim Premji University, Bangalore.
  • Gallery Ske, Bangalore.
  • National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore.
  • St. John’s Research Institute, Bangalore
  • Department of Architecture, Anna University, Chennai
  • Asian College of Journalism, Chennai.
  • Action for Community Organisation, Rehabilitation & Development (ACCORD) Gudalur, Tamil Nadu.
  • Panchajanyam International Film Festival, Chittur, Kerala.
  • Kochi Biennale 2012-13
  • Signs Film Festival, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
  • Mary Matha College, Mananthavady, Wayanad.
  • Pazhassi Raja College, Pulpally, Wayanad.
  • Bangalore International Center.
  • Mount Carmel College, Bangalore.
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WINNER, Golden Conch for Best Documentary, National Competition, Mumbai International Film Festival, 2014.
Citation: “This film is elegant, patient, meditative, and subtle. The director gently moves her audience towards a deep appreciation of the tribal, mythical connections between humanity and the ecosystems that sustain us all.”

WINNER, Best Cinematography Award for Documentaries, Mumbai International Film Festival, 2014.
Citation: “This cinematographer's work stands out for its reserved discipline, its beauty and attention to detail and its overall contribution to the subtle tone of the film”

WINNER, Best Sound Award, Mumbai International Film Festival, 2014.
Citation: “Rendered with great sensitivity and care, the sounds of the natural world and human voice are integral elements in bringing the director's vision and message to the screen”

WINNER, “Monde en Regards” award by the INALCO jury 32nd Jean Rouch International Film Festival, Paris 2013.
Citation: “For its anthropological relevance because it deals with the impacts - problems or conflicts - brought about by the economical changes on nature and society, with - at the background - the narration of the origin myth of the place.”

WINNER, Special Mention by the International Jury of the Anthropology and Sustainable Development Prize 32nd Jean Rouch International Film Festival, Paris 2013.
Citation: “A film of great aesthetic quality, that makes us consider the fragility of oral-based knowledge about nature.”

WINNER, Best Documentary Mark Haslam Award at Planet in Focus Film Festival, Toronto, 2013

WINNER, Honorable Mention, Documentary Feature, Int. Film Festival for Environment, Health and Culture, Jakarta.

WINNER, John Abraham National Award for Best Documentary, 2013.
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 exposition.”

Special Mention, International Documentary & Short Film Festival of Kerala.
Citation: “For its masterful depiction of the struggles and complexities of indigenous communities against the onslaught of indiscriminate and non-sustainable development. This film archives a rare poetic and sophisticated cinematic approach woefully lacking in most issue-driven films.”

WINNER – Best Ecodocumentary Feature Award, Tinai Eco Film Festival, 2014.
Citation: A beautiful film, with an excellent narrative arc makes a compelling statement on the wisdom of indigenous communities in the context of India’s widespread agrarian crisis."

WINNER – Best Cinematography and Best Editing Awards, Jeevika Asia Livelihood Film Festival
Citation: Every frame of this film is an aesthetic delight, lit as if by a studio photographer, rather than a documentary camera. ‘Have You Seen the Arana’ flows from one scenario to another, in a stream of cultural context and consciousness, an enviable fluidity that is a testament to the craft of editing."

WINNER, "MONDE EN REGARDS" by INALCO Jury of the 32nd Jean Rouch International Film Festival, Paris.

WINNER, Special Mention, Anthropology and Sustainable Development Prize, 32nd Jean Rouch International Film Festival, Paris.

WINNER, Best Documentary, Professional, Dada Saheb Phalke Award.

WINNER, Best Documentary & Best Director, National Short & Documentary Film Awards, Thrissur, Kerala.

WINNER, Best Documentary Nasik International Film Festival.

WINNER, Best Documentary & Best Director, Kerala State Television Awards.

Recipient of the AND Post production Fund, Busan International Film Festival, 2012.

Participant at Trigger Pitch, held at International Film Festival of Kerala, 2012 in Thiruvananthapuram, a forum to help documentary films extend their outreach.




“When Sunanda Bhat decided to make a film on one of the Adivasi communities in Wayanad, Kerala, her biggest challenge was breaking away from how mainstream media had depicted them so far...” read more »

THE HINDU | Catherine Rhea Roy

“I am closely connected to my subjects and am concerned about how I represent them. You can present right and wrong in many ways but you must allow your viewer to form their opinion and that is important.” read more »

DEAR CINEMA | Bikas Misra

“Have you seen the Arana” works as a film because of its characters and their warmth. It’s a great achievement on the part of the filmmaker to build this kind of intimacy with her characters…” read more »

DECCAN CHRONICLE | Merin Maria James

“We’ve shown cycles of agriculture, landscape and people’s lives. Rather than showing talking heads, the film observes and becomes a part of the dramatic life cycle of the people and their ecosystem…” read more »


‘If an arana bites, death is immediate’, goes the proverb. In the old Kerala, in the time of (OV Vijayan’s) ‘Khasakkinte Ithihasam’, the arana thus filled the images of dinosaurs in children’s minds. Where is that arana today?” read more »
read the article in malayalam »

Download Arana press kit


have you seen the arana?


Tribal Cultural Heritage in India Foundation, the Netherlands.
“Being so well researched yet accessible to viewers, your film will be a source of strength for local people and visitors interested in the very best India has to offer” read more »
IUCN/SSC Otter Specialist Group, Oregon State University, USA.
“What a wonderful and moving film!” read more »
Director, ACCORD and ‘Just Change’, Gudalur, India.
“The way you wove complex multiple layers into an insightful portrayal of the challenges faced by the people of the area was truly impressive.” read more »
Editor “Meine Welt", Germany.
“By making the affected people tell their own story with little or no interventions from your side, you have made the film impressively authentic... You have treated the theme with great restraint, but with deep understanding.” read more »

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