On the Threshold Waiting for Reprieve an award-winning documentary film by Arun Chadha (1992)
On the threshold - waiting for reprieve is one the earlier works of Arun Chadha, which characterizes his desire to show the neglect of poor and marginalised rural communities. This film talks about the disease Lathyrism, a severely disabling disease caused by consumption of poisonous Kersai lentils (Lathyrus sativum) among poor communities in central India. Even if the persons know that these lentils cause severe impairments, lack of other cheap food alternatives makes it difficult for them to avoid it. The film made in 1992, was adjudged Best film at the International Video Documentary Film Festival on Science, Society & Development held in Tiruvananthapuram, Kerala (India), 1995.
About this film, Arun says "The making of 'Waiting for reprieve' brought me face to face with some rather uncomfortable realities especially about the hopelessly limited role a film maker has in a society that has become totally immune to human suffering. Here is a poor, barely surviving agricultural community, consuming the poisonous Keshari pulse for they have no alternative, and getting paralyzed waist downwards for the rest of their lives. Young, productive lives are being wasted and the government cannot decide whether to ban the crop thanks to the squabbling between the anti & pro lathyrus sativus lobbies."
The film contributed to the campaigns against the consumption of the toxic grains, which led to stopping its use in the affected communities during the early 1990s.
Here are some stills from the film: