Film 'Ek Cup Chya' brings RTI awareness at Goa festival

A hoarding promoting the 40th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) is seen outside the film festival venue in Panaji, Goa November 25, 2009. REUTERS/Tony Tharakan

PANAJI, India (Reuters) - A law enacted by Indian parliament that gives its citizens the right to access government records is the subject of a new film screened at the International Film Festival of India, currently underway in the tourist state of Goa.

“Ek Cup Chya” (A Cup of Tea), tells the story of Tukaram Sawant, a bus conductor who questions authorities using the Right to Information Act and its provisions when he is slammed with a huge electric bill.

“India is a faceless democracy. RTI has the ability to change that, and that is what we wanted to show in the film,” national award winner Sumitra Bhave, one of the directors of the film, told Reuters.

“We chose to tell this story through the eyes of this family, which is like scores of others in our country.”

The film has “no melodrama”, because Bhave says, “the lives of ordinary people are seldom melodramatic. Instead they have their own little problems.”

On receiving an inflated electricity bill, the bus conductor challenges the authorities who refuse to help him. Sawant then takes on the state using the Right to Information Act.

Made on a budget of six million rupees, the Marathi film was first screened at the Mumbai International Film Festival last month and will be released in theatres in December.

The Right to Information Act, 2005, mandates timely response to citizen requests for government information. Information officers in each government department help facilitate queries.