India’s First Ever Documentary on Fossils

I was present at the first screening of the documentary on fossils and came back home with lot to learn about our collective “meta history”. It was a crowd funded project primarily from the online freethought community Nirmukta and filmed by Lime Soda Films. Vaishnavi Sundar who was the director did a commendable job of tying up a complex subject into something more “palatable” for a general audience. Her voice over too added the needed “zing” to a documentary a genre where we usually associate with David Attenborough’s gentle but avuncular tone or the witticism of Neil Degrasse Tyson or the nerdy metaphors of Brian Greene. It was so refreshing from that perspective. The idea that the world we live is “designed” for life as if nature is benevolent to living forms is a romantic notion, busted by the fact that over 99.9% of all living forms which ever lived on earth are extinct due to natural causes.

The graphics (courtesy :Make Real Media from Bala Bhaskar) in the documentary was world class which helps in the narration of the reconstruction of the age for which only geological traces or fossilsed remains bear testimony to how things would have been then. It is a tribute to the scientific methodology which helps us to understand pre history with reasonable certainty with natural evidences with geological corroboration.

Nirmal and Anurag are the paleontologists who did painstaking effort to explain to us through the documentray about the geological riches that lies in Ariyalur which is some 80-100 km from Trichy. It is no wonder that there are several cement factories dotting this landscape in Ariyalur as this part of the country has rich source of limestone mines. Although they do help in paleontology through their deep excavation as an unintended benefit, their operations is actually destroying numerous fossils, not elaborated explicitly in the documentary but looked very much apparent.

The snippets include interacting with the students of a government school by Nirmal Rajah and Anurag Amin as well as with the local villagers who seem to be well versed on the different fossils and can distinguish between ammonites and trilobite! In fact if Ariyalur was located in advanced country it would be declared a geological museum or a treasure to be cherished.

On the whole it was a welcome and encouraging effort from the science lovers for the cause of popularising science to the general populace.

Post screening interesting anecdotes was shared as well as sensitive ones. Like how men use their privilege as simple as peeing outside to relieve themselves without thinking about the women folks who travel along with them. A grim reminder that constructing toilets for everyone is much tougher in a country which boasts of sending orbiter to Mars in its first attempt!

A welcome collection to science material for the student as well as for aficionado!!!


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