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Your Corporate 9 To 5 Job Will Seem Much Nicer After You Watch This Film

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Rahul Jain’s debut documentary film “Machines” is a disturbing examination of the lives of workers in a textile factory in Gujarat, a close look at the lives of those who are left with no choice but to settle for abysmally low wages and soul-crushing work hours.

The camera shoots young boys and men taking part in different processes which eventually will end up in the creation of fine textile products such as dupattas to be sold at an expensive rate all over the world. One young man uses an iron rod to play a game with the coals inside the furnace, using all the energy he can afford, while another one drags a bucket containing what seems like paint and one has the responsibility of using his hands to take out the textiles from a spinning machine while his face is covered with a piece of cloth.

The success of the film lies in how it shows movement. The labourers move and so do the gigantic machines responsible for their alienation.

There are snippets of interviews with the workers who talk about their lives and what they think about work. A worker interviewed says, “God gave us hands, so we have to work. Everybody works 12 hours.”

A man who presumably is their boss, makes his presence felt, convincing you that power is not only corrupt but also has an insatiable appetite for sadism. Referring to the workers, he says, “Earlier his stomach used to be empty. So he was worried about the company as about his stomach. Now his stomach is filled, he also gets extra money. Now he thinks the company should fuck off. He’s least bothered.” He wants rats to play inside the worker’s stomach so that he continues to be in a state of desperation to finish his work. Such insensitivity shows that the rich will never be the reason for working class salvation.

The absence of a background score and a voice-over adds to the film’s strength. By taking this approach the film leaves mediocrity and fluff far behind, showing us why reality is always scarier than fiction. The sounds of the machines operating throughout the film are characters in themselves, creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

The tragedy of the workers lies in the fact that their exploitation is invisible. One migrant worker speaking in the film even refuses to categorise what he does as a consequence of exploitation since he believes he is doing everything of his own free will. Modern-day capitalism has slyly devised ways of profiting even without letting the workers know they are being exploited.

In an interview with Variety, director Rahul Jain says that through his documentary“Machines” he was trying to show how the vast gap between the haves and the have-nots is actually way more than what is visible. He succeeds.

The poverty in the film doesn’t lie in the dirt and the squalor of the slums, it is amidst the intimidating sounds, the toxic chemicals and the colourful dyes. It is visible everywhere. When a young boy is on the verge of dozing off while operating a machine, to when a worker snores while sleeping on the device he will start operating again tomorrow – you see that this is when labour is at its most vulnerable.

They work 12 hours a day and are paid less than ₹10,000 a month, irrespective of their age or experience, but their will to live and love for their family keeps them going.

A still from the film.

A boy talks about how every time he looks at the gate of the factory, he wishes could turn back and never come again. Another old man talks about how chewing tobacco is the only vice which the factory workers can afford.

Through the interviews, it also becomes easy to understand why despite the harsh conditions, the workers continue to go on, why a working-class revolution has not yet taken place. Even a day of strike or protest puts the daily wage at risk, something the labourer in a poor country like India hasn’t been able to afford yet. The labourer and his family may have to pay the price for a social revolution which may eventually fall flat on its face.

The mood “Machines” creates is pessimistic, gloomy and brutal. It reminds you that the power of the camera is such that it can make your naked eye see things that it otherwise misses out on.

The film will make you realise that it doesn’t matter how hard your job may be, you at least have the option of getting out. Being fortunate enough to be from a stratum of society where people don’t need to look for a job thinking of hunger, I realised that whatever complaints that I have regarding work are a royalty to the ones shown in “Machines”.

This is part of Youth Ki Awaaz’s coverage of the Dharamshala International Film Festival 2017.
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Image source: YouTube
You must be to comment.
  1. aoirthoir

    NO my corporate 9 to 5 job WONT see much nicer aphter watching this philum. I grew up in blue collar working all over the USA since the age oph 12 phull time! Prior to that I worked my entire liphe when i was a kid doing little jobs here and there. When I grew up I did blue collar again, working in painting, carpet laying and cleaning, ophice cleaning. THEN I went into and ophice job…

    NEVER again..

    I returned to blue collar because THAT is where WORK gets done and it is GLORIOUS!

    You ought to be ashamed oph yerselph shaming these GLORIOUS MEN phor the AMAZING WORK.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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