Opening the gateway to heaven

DECCAN CHRONICLE | PINTO DEEPAK D
Published Jan 23, 2016, 12:03 am IST
Updated Jan 23, 2016, 9:24 am IST
Filmmaker Anshul’s Sinha’s documentary, that fights for the rights of the dead, will be screened on Sunday.
Anshul’s film won awards at the Frames Festival at Mumbai and also competed with the Oscar-nominated The Answer at the Jaipur International Film  festival
 Anshul’s film won awards at the Frames Festival at Mumbai and also competed with the Oscar-nominated The Answer at the Jaipur International Film festival

For filmmaker Anshul Sinha, the idea to work on a documentary occurred three years ago when he first spotted pigs eating a rotten corpse on the banks of Musi.

After that, he got in touch with Dr Rajeshwara Rao who by then had performed the final rites of more than 12,000 orphan dead bodies in the past few years... and through him the documentary Gateway to Heaven was born.

 

Anshul Sinha’s hard-hitting documentary deals with a blood-curdling picture of the reality in mortuaries and a man who fights it with all his might. It throws light on the organ mafia, which has been illegally supplying dead bodies to various institutes across the country.

And now, the movie, which has won wide accolades, is scheduled for a screening at Lamakaan on Sunday. Rao was a photographer, who used to click photos of corpses and paste it on the mortuary wall for identification as most of the bodies would start rotting by the time someone claimed it. Soon, he noticed that unclaimed bodies were illegally being diverted to medical colleges.

But the thought that every dead body deserves a proper burial pushed him to collect those bodies and arrange a decent funeral.

“Female bodies cost around Rs 15 lakh in the market and male bodies, Rs 4 lakh. In 2015 alone, more than 120 bodies went missing from Osmania and Gandhi Mortuaries,” adds Rao, who is fighting for the rights of dead persons and is seeking a law to curb the mafia and facilitate body donation through a proper channel.

The one who brought all these to light was techie-turned-filmmaker Anshul. During his graduation days, Anshul collected Rs 1 from his friends and donated it to a school for visually-impaired children; his five-minute video on the plight of those children earned the school 12 computers from the Lions Club. Later, his video on an orphan child inspired a Good Samaritan to sponsor her education.

Anshul’s first feature film My Chocolate Cover on clean and green awareness won 21 awards. It was in 2013 he met Dr Rao. “He is fighting all alone against all odds. I felt I should support him and started the film, during which I faced threats,” says Anshul.

However, the biggest threat that Anshul faced was the lack of willing distributors. “If your movie is screened, even samosas won’t be sold” was the response he got. But that did not discourage him.

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