“Men of Burden: Pedaling towards a Horizon” is an Internationally-acclaimed 2006 documentary film set in the city of Pondicherry(now Puducherry), India. The documentary uncovers the story of disappearing cycle rickshaw drivers living in abject poverty. Over time, the city has experienced a gradual reduction in the number of cycle rickshaws. thereby diminishing the chances of living for those who depend on them. What used to be one of the primary modes of transport in the city is now a fading memory with the few remaining ones staging a difficult survival. The film explores some of the ethical dimensions of man pulling man against the background of the increasingly menacing effects of motorised transport and air pollution. It also takes the viewer through the rickshaw men’s journey of hope on the roads that have fostered them.
Representing one facet of India’s population below poverty line, these unflagging men perpetually struggle to eat one satisfying meal a day. What is remarkable is the essence of some who believe in making a difference in an apparently hopeless livelihood. While India’s big cities are racing towards Globalization and technology, these rickshaw men, against all odds, remain appreciative of their modest lives by believing in the power of now meaning earn for their everyday meal and live a contented life and not worry about any saving or about future.
Portraying the immediacy and desolation of the situation the film highlights a catalytic change revolutionizing India’s economic and social future from the grass roots level. Juxtaposing the way of life of these men with definitive solutions, the film answers the question of how these changes can trickle down to the roots of India’s soil.
The film had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Indian Film Festival, European Premiere at the Filmburo Baden-Wurttemberg’s Bollywood and Beyond Film Festival and its NYC Premiere at the Sixth Annual Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival.
Directed by Raghu Jeganathan
Co-directed by Earthling K
Produced by Ramesh Mourthy, Accessible Horizon Films
Cinematography by Mohandass
Music by Steve Gorn