Made in Kerala

This is a film about Kerala, the lush green state in southwest India. Made around 1980, the film shows the life of workers in the traditional, labour intensive and export oriented processing industries of coir and cashew nuts.

The work is paid at piece rate. Coir spinning and weaving is done at home or in small workshops, while cashew nuts are processed in factory-like sheds. Hundreds of thousands of women and men depend on it for their living, but wages are low and there is no guarantee of work on a regular basis. Out of sheer necessity they live in poverty, often under the burden of debt, while a small elite of big entrepreneurs and exporters, local and foreign, reap the profits.

The traditionally strong communist party and unions organize workers’ protest, with its characteristic processions, slogan shouting and sit-down strikes. Sometimes they yield some success, but in a world of total dependency on insecure export markets, the power of a clenched coir or cashew worker’s fist is extremely limited.

Technical data:

16mm film / language: Malayalam / English subtitles / 45 minutes / India 1979/81

Producer / director: Louk Vreeswijk
Camera: A. Kannan Narayanan
Sound: P. Devadas and Ramalingam
Editing: P. Raman Nair

Produced for the Kerala Sastra Sahytya Parishad, with the cooperation of the “Indo-Dutch Kerala Research Project on Labour and Poverty” of the University of Amsterdam.

The film is available on DVD.

The film can be seen on my YouTube channel

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