CHAR… the No-Man’s Island – Sourav Sarangi


Rubel wants to join school but reality forces him to smuggle across the River Ganges between India and Bangladesh. The same river eroded his home. Now he lives on Char, an island within this river which starts eroding now.


Synopsis of CHAR… the No-Man’s Island

The abandoned Char, an island experiencing massive erosion led by a change in the currents of the River Ganges due to dam building, lies between Bangladesh and India. It is where a boy named Rubel and his family live, along with those who have lost their homes countless times. This meandering River Ganges changes its flow with cyclones, and its fragile earth frequently caves in. The island appears as a gift that the River Ganges gives to the people as a shelter after it rips away their native village with floods.

The only means of survival for the inhabitants of Char is to smuggle contraband into the black market. At 16, Rubel wants to go to school, but he is responsible for the family’s livelihood. Reality compels him to venture back and forth between India and Bangladesh every day to keep his family from starving to death.


1 hour 26 minutes* | English, French, and Spanish subtitles | HD (1920×1080)
India, Bangladesh, Japan**,  Italy**, Denmark**, Norway** | 2012
Director/Producer: Sourav Sarangi
Production Company: Son et Lumière
*52-minute version is available for institutional use.
**Production only, not location of shooting.

Awards & Film Festivals

1. Nomination of CINEMA Fairbindet Award, 2013 Berlinale
2. Official Selection, 2012 Busan International Film Festival
3. Official Selection, 2013 Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival
4. Official Selection, 2013 Sydney Film Festival
5. Official Selection, 2012 Goa Indian Panorama at International Film Festival of India
6. Official Selection, 2013 DOK.Fest Munich
7. Official Selection, 2013 Thessaloniki Documentary Festival
8. Winner of Best Direction, The Golden Kapok Award of 2012 Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival
9. Official Selection, 2012 Dubai International Film Festival
And 60+ more.

Highlight Endorsement

“Director Sourav Sarangi paints a subtle but fearless portrait of the urgency of a group of people who belong to no one… desperately in need of a deeper stability as the earth they inhabit literally disappears beneath their feet. This is a story that, like the island itself, may have been lost without his inquisitive eye and courageous camera.”
2012 Guangzhou Documentary Film Festival

“It is a searing critique of a big dam that has wreaked havoc as well as an empathetic anthropological study of an impoverished community displaced by soil erosion. The epic-scale documentary is informed with as much cinematic ingenuity as urgent emotional force.”
Saibal Chatterjee, Civil Society

“We, the city dwellers who live in the comfort of shopping malls and multiplex theatres and luxury cars, cannot imagine that not very far away, some of our own people are living every day with the fear of death either out of poverty or due to the erosion of the island they live in, or both.”
Shoma A. Chatterji, Filming Reality: The Independent Documentary Movement in India

Reasons for Recommendation

1. CHAR… the No-Man’s Island has the rating of 7.1 on IMDB.
2. The film explores citizenship from the viewpoint of inhabitants on a transforming land, focusing on the destruction of life and history by the river, and its multiple meanings of development.
3. It was co-produced by India, Japan, Norway, Italy and Denmark with the director’s creative freedom was ensured and was shown at the Berlin International Film Festival.
4. Via Rubel and the changes he experiences, we see a community abandoned by the government, who must succumb to the harsh realities of nature and policy.

More Info

1. ‘If the land goes, then your home goes’
2. Mint: Island record
3. The Hindu: Filmmaker without borders
4. The Free Press Journal: Char – The No Man’s Island: A Touching Story Of Displacement
5. India Together: Life in no man’s land
6. Civil Society: The wayward river
7. ”Char… the No Man’s Island” – In Conversation with Sourav Sarangi
8. Berlinale Screening Q&A Video part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5
9. UC Santa Barbara Carsey-Wolf Center Screening Q&A video
10. Interview on Ministry of Information & Broadcasting YouTube Channel
11. Interview on MovieCollege YouTube Channel part 1, part 2
12. The SpaceInk: ‘Char- The No Man’s Island’ Finally Gets a Theatrical Release in Kolkata

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