My Name Is Salt

Mar 30 2018

My Name Is Salt

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Every year 40,000 villagers migrate to the desert after the yearly monsoon hits to begin mining salt for the next eight months. My Name Is Salt, is a documentary that was filmed in 2014 to give outsiders a glimpse into the hard realities of salt mining. The film has minimal talking and lots of silence other than the sounds of the pumps, mud being moved, and nails being hammered into machinery. Farida Pacha, who is the producer, said that the most important sound in the film was, “the pump, which is like a heartbeat through the film.” The documentary follows a man named Sanabhai, who is a perfectionist, and his family while they are living in the desert from September until April trying to harvest the most pure white salt. He lives in the desert with his wife, two children and some other relatives in a tent. Each member of the family takes on a role in the salt harvesting and even the children work in the mornings until they attend school during the day. In order to harvest the salt Sanabhai had to take out a loan from a salt merchant before he began his mining season in the desert, in order to afford all the equipment. By the time April arrives the salt merchant he says that Sanabhai’s crystals are not white enough and are too small in size. Because of this Sanabhai will not make as much money as he had anticipated for the season. After the season comes to a close, the families will move back to their homes before the anual monsoon washes away all their seasons work.

Farida Pacha was born in 1972 in Mumbai, India. She Studied Anthropology and Sociology in Mumbai and then received MFA in Cinema from Southern Illinois University. She is known for her films: The Women in Blue Berets, and Dharavi, Slum for Sale. My Name Is Salt was her first feature film that has been featured at over eighty film festivals and she has won over thirty awards. Pacha traveled to the Little desert of Kutch which is a salt marsh located near the Great Rann of Kutch that is in Gujarat, India, while researching for the documentary. Over the course of sixty days, her team of three people were in the desert a total of ten times. Farida Pacha

Salt mining in India is a process that requires a lot of attention, dedication, and time. Many salt miners dig wells to access saline water used for the production of salt. In order to brine the salt into pans you have to use diesel for the pump, which breaks frequently. It takes the course of eight months for the brine to become crystallized and then form into salt. The area where the salt is made is called a brine pond. In order for the salt to not solidify you have to walk and step on it multiple times a day. As soon as enough brine has evaporated enough and they are able to handle the salt, it is gathered with wooden rakes until large crystals of salt begin to form. The white crystals are equally as sharp as glass. In order to inspect and maintain the quality of the salt crystals you must inspect the level of water the salt pan contains, multiple times daily. Though this process is grueling and time consuming, the miners take so much pride in their work after the hard eight months spent in the desert.

To summarize my thoughts, I thought this documentary was long but interesting to watch. I would recommend this documentary to someone who was interested in learning about the struggle and hardships of salt mining in India for eight months out of the year. Though the documentary was amazing to watch, I was not able understand what the people in the film were saying since subtitles were not available. I think this film is important because it is not necessarily a film about social issues. Rather this film was made to show the hard work, dedication, and struggle of the people who spend eight months every year salt mining in a desert in India. These people struggle through high temperatures and brutal work conditions to strive for perfection in their work. The most powerful part of the film was the use of sounds rather than many words being spoken. It was interesting to just watch and listen carefully to the few words spoken and the sound of grueling hard work. I was inspired by the continuous hard work of the families and watching them day after day perfect their work ethic. I think that this documentary focuses on many topics that we have covered throughout the course this semester. I think the film addresses issues of poverty in India, but also shows that hard work and patience can lead to a great end product and you can make a small fortune off of mining salt. Though it is a 95 minute documentary I think everyone would be able to take something positive away from this film.




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