The Wishing Tree is an inspirational film that tells the story of five children in a hill-station who come together to save their ‘wishing tree’ from being cut by vested interests. According to director Raajaysh Chetwal, “It gently nudges people to think about, and restore, the organic and utterly magical relationship between humans and nature.”
A letter from the film-maker
I am an independent film-maker who has just released a mainstream Hindi feature film “The Wishing Tree” in theaters all over India. This film resulted from a desire to produce an entertaining full-length feature film that would make children (of all races, regions & faiths) fall in love with trees & forests. It is a herculean task for an independent filmmaker like me to produce a feature film without any affiliation to a big studio or a distributor. The journey was arduous but a few words that my School Principal would often quote from a Chief Seattle speech (supposedly made in 1854), kept me going. Chief Seattle, talking about ecological responsibility, had said, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”.
I was also fascinated by the proclamation of an Emperor, who, upon seeing the beauty of Kashmir, declared, “If there is paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this!” Indeed, ancient/ medieval poetry proclaims in one voice that there is no heaven apart from the earth we live on. Trees symbolize physically the heavenly power and grace of earthly creation. Before Imperial conquests and the rise of industrial civilization, trees had spiritual significance across the world. There were “sacred groves” everywhere, which could not be used for material purposes. All great saints, prophets and sages sought enlightenment under the trees in the forests as great philosophies and religions took shape.
However, under the ongoing onslaught of industrial modernity this vision of trees and nature has eroded considerably. Our children grow up in man-made, domesticated, highly processed environments in cities in which they typically see pictures of animals and plants before setting eyes on a real elephant or an actual Banyan tree. It is in this context, of a potentially destructive ecological and cultural rupture, that I decided to produce “The Wishing Tree“. The film has been made for children. But like any children’s film worth watching, it is also fit for families & grown-ups to see. The film eschews any moralizing or preaching. On the contrary, it entices young viewers into divining the multiple meanings and message/s it embodies. Inspired by an ancient tale about a wishing tree, it uses the language of fantasy, colour and music to generate the magical adventure that fascinates children.
The film rests on an undying belief in the human capacity for supremely noble actions based on unshakable faith in humanity. Environmental and climate sciences have done more than plenty to bring to the attention of the public the terrifying facts whose first shadows we have already come to live under. However, for people to fundamentally change their actions (and not merely superficially alter their behaviour), reason and a mere knowledge of facts is not enough. A revolution is needed in the very heart of the human conscience, the goal of all true art. A change so radical is needed in the inner disposition of a human being that we turn our energies away from a greedy, competitive view of the world in order that the inner eye, which can divine the true treasures and abundance of the human spirit, opens and life gains a whole new meaning.
Also, in countries with huge young populations like India’s, one needs to be able to achieve this in the hearts and minds of children. It is in this spirit that “The Wishing Tree”, a labour of love for my entire team, has been crafted. We may still have a little bit of time left to act with wisdom, before the window of survival opportunities tragically closes for humankind. However, for us to be able to seize the moment, it is imperative that the young are weaned out of the habits of senseless consumption that adults have bequeathed to them and instead alight on an altogether new journey – of the imagination – the only one which can re-open fresh possibilities of hope, meaning and joy in life.
“The Wishing Tree” is a lively film about faith & hope, which transcends barriers of language, culture and region. It gently nudges people to think about, and restore, the organic and utterly magical relationship between human beings and nature.
I must state that I was fortunate to have got some legendary talents of the Indian Film Industry like Amitabh Bachchan, Shabana Azmi & Gulzar to be a part of this film which has recently reached its theater viewers in cities. Incidentally, the film has been acknowledged and appreciated by the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (Government of India) and was officially released as a ‘MoEF&CC presentation of a Rhombus Films production‘. It was also screened as part of ‘World Environment Day’ celebrations of Government of India.
I am now very keen to see that the film reaches across to children everywhere, and towards that objective I seek attention of institutions and organisations who may be willing to host/ arrange screenings for children in and around their communities or any other possible forum. In my endeavour to spread this entertaining film’s message, quantum of exhibition fee can be discussed as per any specific requirement/ budget.
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