Video Volunteers: Impactful grassroots journalism


The largest community media gathering of grassroots video journalists came to a close on October 4, in Candolim. Actor Abhay Deol was at the ceremony, where videos made by community video correspondents from around India were screened.

During an interaction Deol was questioned about his film Chakaravyuh, a social commentary on Naxalisms, by grassroots journalists who have, in reality, experienced and are living with the conflict that the film depicts. He was asked why the film did not say more about forced evictions and displacement faced by people like them and the everyday corruption and cruelty of the authorities, which they document in their videos reports. To which Abhay responded: “While I agree that there is corruption on the side of the authorities, the film does try to give a balanced view.”

The film holds special significance for many Video Volunteers’ correspondents who are facing displacement and forced evictions in states like Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Odisha.

Speaking about the masala nature of Bollywood, Deol said: “Right now, unfortunately, films on serious issues are often ignored despite critical acclaim. Sex sells. But I hope that in the future things will change and the audience for films on real, true-life stories, like the ones you report on, will grow.” Till then, Abhay Deol said he was glad that Video Volunteers community correspondents are doing the work they were doing and bringing to light stories from the margins.

Abhay Deol, known as the thinking man’s actor for his brilliant and sensitive portrayals of complex characters, believes that filmmaking can be used for grassroots change. This is why he has been an ambassador for Video Volunteers’ work in building the largest, most diverse network of full-time, salaried community correspondents in the world.

Frequently interacting with correspondents and using his star power to bring the work of grassroots community video journalists to the attention of the mainstream press, Abhay Deol has helped strengthen the grassroots media movement in India.

Abhay Deol gave out awards for the best videos produced by Video Volunteers’ network of correspondents, from some of the most remote and neglected villages in India, around human rights issues like acid attacks, caste-based violence, MGNREGA cases and forced evictions.