Panaji: Jay Bajaj`s short environmental film "The man who saved the Taj Mahal" is being screened at the ongoing 41st International Film festival of India. The movie focuses on lawyer-activist M.C. Mehta`s solo battle to save the Taj Mahal, plagued by ‘marble cancer`.
"Marble cancer is a common word with eco-people. It`s used by the scientists all the time," says Bajaj, a Canada-based filmmaker, who doubles his time between the cold north American country and sunny Goa.
"Mehta has spent all his life fighting for the cause. If he would have been in America, he would have been world`s richest lawyer of Class Action suites. Here he fights all this from his own pocket. He is a true crusader," Bajaj says, adding that one lecture by Mehta at a environment-related conference in New York caught his complete attention.
The film is being screened in the Short Film centre (SFC) section at IIFI.
Born in Dhangri, near Jammu, Mehta moved to Delhi in 1983 and it was on his public interest litigation that the Supreme Court directed that the polluting industries and traffic in and around the 17th century heritage site located in Agra, be moved away. That saved the once pristine tomb from ‘marble cancer`, which is a slow degradation process of the white stone over a period of years.
After the Taj litigation, Mehta`s subsequent PILs dealt with dumping of effluents in the Ganga and banning public transport in Delhi from using gasoline and diesel fuel.
"It`s a shame that on one hand we say ‘India is Shining` and then we are destroying the icons of our cultural heritage," Bajaj said referring to the Taj Mahal. "I have used a short clip of Bill Clinton outside Taj Mahal, at the end of the film," added Bajaj, saying this could lend it a very powerful appeal internationally.
Asked about expectations from his film being screened at the IFFI, he said: "Hope people will become more aware of the eco threats around us and perhaps a broadcaster will buy for India distribution so that more people can be reached through other mediums."