Filmmaker Harsha Atmakuri's investigative documentary "Maa Ka Doodh", about the illegal and unethical practices prevalent in the Indian dairy industry, has won four awards at the ongoing Jaipur International Film Festival. The 15th edition of the film gala started in Rajasthan's capital city Jaipur on Friday. This year, 282 films from 63 countries are being screened at the festival. "Maa Ka Doodh" received awards for best director, best documentary feature, best screenplay, and film which gives a global message.
Atmakuri said through the documentary he has tried to make the audiences aware about the need to fight "abuse, malpractice and exploitation of animals". Most people would be stunned that animals which give us milk are often slaughtered for meat at the end of their milk-producing lives,” he said in a statement.
The film explores the ethical, cultural, environmental, religious, economic, and political complexities that surround the consumption of dairy in India and lays bare several instances of animal cruelty that is not only left unchecked by authorities but also has become the norm in the quest for increasing milk production.
It captures several cruel and harmful practices such as starving of male calves (as they do not allow them to consume much of the mother’s milk), usage of hormones like oxytocin to induce milk production and housing the animals in unhygienic and cramped conditions. Also, it delves on the fact that the burgeoning dairy cattle population is resulting in increased beef exports, making India one of the top-most beef exporters of the world.
Atmakuri, a general physician turned animal rights activist, travelled over 20,000 kilometres across India, by road, for over two years meeting people who are directly or indirectly associated with the dairy industry.
He conducted interviews with dairy farmers, gaushala administrators, gau rakshaks, and restaurant owners.
He also talked to several eminent personalities like BJP leader Maneka Gandhi, spiritual guru Sri Acharya Prashant and Padma Shri awardee Smt Sudevi Mataji, among others.
"For a litre of milk to be produced, about 1062 litres of water is required. As consumers, we need to know how our purchases are fuelling growth of practices that are harmful for the planet and animals. Humans cannot survive if such exploitation continues," Atmakuri said. "Maa Ka Doodh" will soon be released on YouTube for public viewing.