NERO’S GUESTS: A Review
"For me the issue was never Nero, it was Nero's guests", are the opening lines of the documentary which shows Mr. P. Sainath addressing a gathering in an epilogue. Mr Palagummi Sainath is an Indian journalist and photojournalist focusing on social problems, rural affairs, poverty and the aftermaths of globalization in India. He calls himself a 'rural reporter’. He is the Rural Affairs Editor for The Hindu, and the website India Together has been archiving some of his work in The Hindu daily for the past six years. Amartya Sen has called him "one of the world's great experts on famine and hunger"
In his documentary "Nero's Guests" he basically focuses on the farmer suicide deaths in India and focus of attention of the present media and journalists.
It starts off with him visiting a village which faces a lot of farmer suicides and goes around interviewing affected families and the interviews and the stories of the families all add to the impact which it leaves its viewers with wherein we can actually feel their pain.
The method Sainath uses to put across the seriousness of the matter is not with subtlety but rather it is in your face and very vocal.
He also talks about how women farmers are not treated and looked at like male farmers as the people considered the women merely as the farmers' wives.
Lots of statistics are put across throughout the video too to show the seriousness of this matter; Back in 1998 it was 1 suicide a week but in 2002 it was one suicide a day and now in every district there are about 2-3 deaths per day.
Agriculture is the country's backbone and everyone depends on the agricultural sector for food,etc but now due to the high prices for equipment and lack of financial assistance from the banks the farmers themselves look at being born a farmer a curse , this shows the seriousness of this matter and the need to better the conditions for we all are dependent on them be it directly or indirectly yet the government have not implemented anything for the improvement.
The next topic Sainath touches is the focus of the “mainstream” media today. With an example of the Lakme Fashion week getting a higher media coverage over the suicide deaths at villages when it is because of the primary sector that thread/cloth is produced for these fashion shows. He talks about how the media today have moved away from news about national concern like farmer suicides, etc to more mainstream events like fashion, entertainment, etc. By the end of the video we are actually left with the cold hard truth about our country so the video does cause a big impact on the viewers.
In the prologue, we are shown the continuation of his speech in from the epilogue and now he specifies on the video title and its meaning. In the words of Tacitus in ‘the burning of Rome’ , Nero was said to have had one of the biggest parties of ancient time inviting very noble and people of high class. During the banquet it starts to get dark so in order to light up the place Nero gets criminals from jails and ties them up and sets them up ablaze in order to “light up the darkness”.
So in the words of Sainath the real villain isn’t Nero but in fact it was his guests. He portrays them as the real villains because they did not even attempt to protest against Nero’s doing. So he says, we should not keep quiet and we must speak up and do something about the rising problems in our country and that we must not just be spectators in a crowd like the Guests of Nero.