Water Wars, the coming Urban Disaster

The next wars will be fought over water and not oil. As Global warming takes place, water will become the scarcest resource. Millions will die of thirst and countries will go to war to colonize the water resources. Or maybe not ?

Will Nano technology bring a much more energy efficient way to distill sea water into drinkable water ? So they say. That nano filters will be so tiny that they will be able to trap all salt molecules as water passes through them. I certainly hope so, but do not see that much into the immediate future. While water scarcity is so much upon us. Millions are already dying of either thirst or of drinking contaminated water all over the world.
The strategic importance, I am told, of Turkey is that it controls the rivers Euprates and the Tigris that supply all of Iraq’s water. Golan hights, I understand is of great strategic importance because it’s ability to take command over water resources.
The Canadian think tanks worry that they may become targets of an insidous colonization by the US due to their Water resources.
What no one is saying though, is that we stand on the brink of greatest urban envioromental disaster. Where soon cities of 15 million plus population will not have enough drinking water for all it’s inhabitants. Its like there is water available in the same square mile that you live in, but not a drop for you or your children. This will lead to heavily armed gated communities that have water, surrounded by a city scape that resembles an urban desert with no water. Yet the gated communities will have to find a way to have the water piped to themselves. So they will have to send out out armed gangs that will protect the pipe lines.
Or will the water be flown into them ? Causing an even greater disbalance in use of energy, and even greater global warming.
That , hopefully, is the subject of my next film. Paani. Which means water in Hindi.

15 thoughts on “Water Wars, the coming Urban Disaster

  1. Hi Shekhar, Even in the worst of circumstances I cannot foresee world wars over water. A clean future plentiful energy source (fusion energy or a not yet discovered energy source) may be used to desalinize sea water which is plentiful. Most energy-rich middle eastern countries get clean running water today in this manner.
    A clean plentiful future energy source is a given considering the known problems with the current status quo and the amount of work going on throuought the world to develop clean alternatives (eg. ITER).
    IMO water shortages in India reflect the inequities of society more than they reflect shortage of resources. They reflect corruption, incompetence and sheer lack of concern for others. Water riots in India are quite probable and its reasons would have more to do with greed and the endemic lack of empathy for fellow human beings in India rather than a crucial lack of resources. In making a film about water in India, I couldn’t do without focussing on the inefficiencies of government in India. (And, I wouldn’t know where to begin since it is everywhere 🙂
    IMO if India was a ‘developed’ country, even with a billion plus people, taps would have clean water running round the clock.

  2. Just back from watching Kabul Express at the nearby Cinemax, so my creative juices are pumping. 😉
    Here is my input:
    Since water is going to be the next currency, the countries and cities with rivers will become the centers of power. Heavily armed soldiers with laser guns will guard the entire lengths of those rivers, assuming that not all rivers have dried up in the time this story will be set in. Sea water would have become too contaminated by the dumping of chemical waste to be made fit for drinking.
    Here, you can create a character of a genius scientist who is quite close to finding a way of purifying even the dirtiest of water. He lives in Mumbai. And thus, every nation and power group has an eye on abducting this man. You can develop the character further with your imagination.
    Since the story is set in India, it will be ironical that politicians will still be promising drinking water to their voters (which they do even right now in some villages)even fifty years into the future. I’m assuming you’ll be setting the story in 2050 or something. The only difference being that instead of promising water to the rural voters they would be making this promise then in urban cities like Mumbai.
    So much for now.

  3. # Considering your sensibilities and the scope of the subject I guess there won’t be any thematic end to it as such. Only the stories of the characters in the film might end.
    This point was not taken care of in WATERWORLD. and this is the biggest mistake Mr. Costner did with WATERWORLD. The story of WATERWORLD was too fantastic, clichéd and predictable. A very good example of a bad futuristic story!…too much commercial…too clichéd emotions…too frivolous…
    #The subject of Water War sounds bit too far fetched but I am certain that you must have done your research about it.
    #Being an artist, the fear I have at this moment about your subject is ‘whether audience will be able to relate to it or not?’ Why? ….because it is a futuristic story. So if you are going to show Indian audience their bad future, some where their sub conscious mind would tell them not to like any thing going on the screen. And at the same time if you will show ultra modern high tech city in India, westerners are not going to like it. So how futuristic your story is? And how you are going to deal with the socio-political scenario of the future world would be an interesting thing to watch.
    #The only thing that will hold the audience is the basic story line and the character journey. ( 😛 this is too basic and fundamental but I am just sharing my thought process …YO!)
    # When I saw ‘The Four Feathers’ I noticed that there were too many stories in one film. A story of two friends, a story of another two friends(black man and the protagonist), the story of the girl and the protagonist, the story of father and the protagonist. And though it all revolves around The Four Feathers, the FEEL which was coming out of each story was different for me. Where I think that though the EMOTIONS can be different but the over all FEEL coming out of each story should be one and the same no matter what medium is used to tell that story film or novel.
    ( I hope I am getting across…I am not a critic …but try to understand…)
    #The UNDERCURRENT which emerges with out saying it or showing it, was not of the same frequency through out length of ‘the four feathers’.
    #my opinion about The Four Feathers could be wrong …but at least the basic thought behind it is fundamental which you already know being a great film maker. So just forget about my opinion about The four feathers and take care of this ONE point of UNDERCURRENT in PAANI.
    #The subject of PAANI is very much similar to WATERWORLD. But WATERWORLD didn’t work for the audience because of only one reason. And that was- Though Mr. Costner wanted to tell a futuristic tell it was amazingly clichéd and predictable. i am sure your approach would be more studious and realistic!(entertaining is taken for granted…i am not worried about that when its you!….)
    #I would really love to know what time period you are showing in your film?
    #When you said Futuristic story…then the first thing I recalled was a story written by you on the blog, about kids from eastern world visiting western world as their school trip and the social structure has reversed, now the western world is poor and eastern kids are not able to relate to the poverty in western world.
    If you are going to show something like that then beware of the western market!!!
    Amm what else…nothing for now. I will keep posting as I will think of more points… 🙂
    lots of love…take care…tata…kedar…

  4. kedar, once u have established the ‘purpose’ of your art, yr provocation, so to speak, then u must define the principles of the ‘discipline’ u have chosen to express yourself in. Whether it be poetry or painting, or prose.
    Or film.
    The fundamentals of film is story telling. The fundamentals of story telling are identifiable relationships. The fundamentals of identifiable relationships are the current moral strictures or beliefs of the society that you live in.
    Drama is the art of challenging those fundamentals , but to challenge them u must establish them first. That is where Waterworld failed. We saw no relationships that we could get emotionally connected to.
    Four Feathers failed because there was no investment in the love story between Heath Ledger and Kate Hudson. U just did not believe her, and resented her lack of moral commitment. Infact the end of the film should have been where Kate Hudson realized that sacrifices are an essentila part of living and made a commitment to Wes Bentley, who was now blind and needed her. And Heath Ledger should have rejected the society that once called him a coward, and gone back to his ‘spirit brother’, in the desert, played by Djimon Honsou.
    I begged the studio to let me shoot the alternate ending, which only meany one scene and half a days shooting. But their Ego dictated a big no.

  5. dude…wow…enriching as usual…
    #dude…my request to you is that you must write a book on your experiences of film making where you can tell the entire process you go through right from an idea to married print and then to the theaters.
    Sidney Lumet has one wonderful book like this. Amazing book! i forgot the name but i think its something like ‘ Making Films or movies by Sidney Lumet’
    You must write a book like that.
    # As far as my point of THE FEEL is concerned one can easily notice it in films like BLUE or RED or WILD STRAWBERRIES etc. where the viewer is left free intentionally by the maker to have his own interpretation about certain points.
    Yes…it is extremely difficult to keep control over the FEEL when the story and the film is ultra simple.
    But i personally feel that it is a Herculean task to maintain THE FEEL in a film which is more of a BIG PROJECT than a film. Such BIG PROJECTS offer less scope for the maker to leave such intentional loop holes in the narration.
    e.g. Gladiator- good film! But i felt it could have been better! The emotional graph and every thing was in place but then it wasn’t NOVEL (as in new).
    amm…what i am trying to say is…is…amm say a painter is going to paint a landscape on a canvas and he first applies the WHITE WASH….this WHITE WASH is the FEEL i am talking about. The viewer is not going to see this WHITE WASH while watching the film but it is always there in each and every frame, scene, and sequence of the film.
    I sense and feel this WHITE WASH factor in Stanely Kubrick’s most of the films. (but at times he becomes too symbolic which is bad for MASS appeal of the film)
    #PAANI sounds more of a PROJECT than a film where the scope of the subject is so wide that at times the creator may just lose out on this FEEL factor and indulge more into plot of the film.
    Which I guess what happened with The Four Feathers. When you told about the last scene suddenly I feel like watching the film all over again keeping this ending in my mind and now I am sure the effect which I will get this time would be certainly different. I am already loving this last scene. But then why it was not taken care of when you read the first draft? May be you had become too subjective about the whole project and when you saw the rough cut you thought of this last scene. And then the studio executives were all ready with their EGO weapons to not let you shoot that last scene.
    But if you are too conscious about this WHITE WASH then there is a high possibility of getting into complex plotting and complex narrative style.
    #####Amm…as you said- Purpose-Story telling- identifiable relationships-based on current moral structure and beliefs and then challenging these fundamentals!!! ( wow…I wish I can be so simplistic in my approach…)
    So considering this, may be what I am trying to say is ‘when an artist challenges these fundamentals then the root of this challenging process must lie in the PURPOSE itself. So while creating the ground for challenging the fundamentals he will take care of emotional graph of the character and hence the story and hence the plot’
    The very purpose of telling any story is the WHITE WASH!
    May be?
    # Your experience of the art of cinema and life itself is so vast which reflects when you explain certain point. So I am again requesting you to write a book on these experiences where you can talk elaborately about all your films and how you made them.
    take care…lots of love…tata…kedar…

  6. Quite an interesting prospective project, Shekhar.
    As I understand it’s a sci-fi film. I’m wondering if it would be more closer to reality? or would it be fantastical? All socio-political or would it also involve science?
    Would it show the personal journeys of few identifiable characters or more focused on the coteries? Would it involve several countries or just a city? Just wondering what kind of a story you have in mind…

  7. Dear Shekhar
    Your statements abour Four Feathers in number 4 are very interesting, because the reason you describe for its failure parallels something I’ve been living through. Last week I faced and resolved that issue, and as a result, I’m so full of inner resolve — because I’m living from a deeper truth — that people respond differently to me, though they don’t know why. The difference in their reactions is exactly in line with what you conjecture would have happened with audience reaction, if you’d been able to shoot the ending you wanted.
    Regarding Paani, in California and Nevada, there were already water wars, on a small scale, in the last century. Given the rapid overdevelopment of both states, and new residents wanting to live as if they’re in the mountains, with ever-running glacier-fed water sources, it may happen again there, especially around Las Vegas.
    Christmas blessings to you, Shekhar, and to all your family, too.
    love, Heath

  8. An excellent theme, considering the alarming speed with which natural resources are being ruthlessly exploited.
    Water wars are not at all unimaginable.They have already begun in parts of the world. Only they are so politicised that the basic issue remains camouflaged.
    Hope you will not make it too much of a sci-fi type. I feel that’d make it a little difficult for the lay audience to relate to. Besides, there’s this danger of it being dismissed as a sci-fi picture.
    is your approach to film making didactic?
    is your purpose only to explore/expose truth/idea? Or is there an effort/desire to win audience over to your take on the issue that figures in the film? if it is the latter, i feel the grammar of the film should not be too removd from what the ordinary audience is familiar with.

  9. Dear Shekhar
    A bad tragedy today, with poor people stealing gasoline from a pipeline in Lagos, the capital of Nigeria…
    Last 2 para’s of the article currently read like this:
    “Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer, but corruption, poor management and limited refining capacity often leave the country short of fuel for vehicles and stoves. Shortages in recent days have prompted hours-long lines at Lagos filling stations.
    The pipeline is owned by Nigeria’s state-owned petroleum company and was transporting refined fuel for domestic consumption. The blast was not expected to affect production in Africa’s largest oil exporter. ”

  10. I just saw the 2001 movie Nayak. And wondered if Paani would have any similar kind of messages of a call for duty and sacrifice…

  11. Hello!
    I have been interested your venture and have tracked it often on various websites (eg. IMDB). However, recently some websites have said that Paani has been abandoned. I hope this is not true and you will finish this work. I feel that this movie would be a message to people about resources which we take as ‘free’ and ‘birthright’ and hence do not feel that conservation is needed for them. While your message may be a bit exagarated as some people above me have said – I think your theme has sound judgements. Please do complete your work so that the common people may think and hopefully start water conservation.
    Best of luck!

  12. no avalanche, i have not given it up. it’s just that it’s an expensive film for a foreign language film, so atkes time to persuade people to invest in it. Shekhar

  13. Paani is eagerly awaited by me. Day after tomorrow is one movie that comes to my mind when I think of Paani though they are not directly related.
    I suggest you should make a film also on the travelling woes in Mumbai. I see people fighting like dogs for getting into the trains, people disrespecting each other just for the heck of it, to increase the speed of life.
    I am a Film buff and a film professional, I would like to give my inputs on making a film on the reality of Mumbai, the dog life of Mumbai, and the non-glamorous part of Mumbai that tells you that deep within every Mumbaikar is sad and lonely.
    susheelsukhraj at gmail dot com
    Please do mail me if you are interested in this subject. I will give my soul to any good film.

  14. How much do you need? We’ll take up a collection. Clearly you have no shortage of supporters who want this film to happen. From all of the messages posted here by guests, I see that this story, in one way or another, is already already weighing heavily on human hearts the world over. A dystopian future without water is already a reality living within each of us; it is a truth already drifting through our collective unconscious. We NEED this story to be told. This struggle unifies us completely, not only as people, but as living beings. This is THE movie of this decade, maybe of this century. No pressure or anything.

  15. Hi Shekhar,
    I had visited your site earlier, some time back. I had been exteremely interested in “Paani” since the day I had heard you talk about it on TV. Its full of possibilities and I hope it gets made …real soon.
    What I want to ask, that insitead of being from a foriegn producer, can there be no one in India who will produce a film like this. For I believe that India needs this kind of stories, though at the same time, I am aware of how undpedictable it is to say how an indian audience will accept a proper fantasy.
    I am a wannabe filmmaker myself.(Studying film direction in Calcutta) and fantasy is a genre very close to my heart. The question I want to raise is what you(and other visters on this blog) think about the prospect of fantasy films in India.
    From past records, too me its not very hopeful. Films like Koi Mil Gaya and Krrish cannot be called proper fantasies…they have cashed in more on the special effects parts than on the “purpose” part. ANd moreover Krrrish was a hit most of all due to Hrithik Roshan and Koi Mil Gaya mostly due to the “special child” story. The only film that comes to mind as a good and “proper” fantasy film which worked well is still Mr. India.
    So what do you feel is the future of fantasy in India?
    The follwoing are some of the elemets I identify as “basic” requiremets of a “proper” fantasy :
    1) The fantastic elements in the story should be allegoric representations in disguise (Mutancy as Racial discrimination in X-Men, Water as Economy in you Paani etc)
    2) “The Purpose and Lesson Learnt” thing. WHich is basically the Hero’s journey in a more definitive and easy-identifiable way…(like all protagonists and through them the audience learning about the true nature of things – like the superhero leanring that he is still a hero, even without his powers or the community as a whole realizing that the enemy is actually not an enemy but a fellow victim)
    3)An underlying theme of spirituality. (All gerat fantasies in some way or the other at its root speak about certain basic spiritual values – God, Love, Sacrfice, Humanity, Peace, Tao, Dharma)
    Waiting for your reply.

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