A sly subversion of a well-trodden story, Cowboys in India sets up the viewer to believe that we’re going to learn about the evils perpetrated by the London-based mining company Vedanta Resources in rural India. Long before the now-familiar mix of pollution, land-grabbing, false promises and thuggish ‘bodyguards’ hit the UK headlines, filmmaker Simon Chambers had relocated to Orissa for several years to try to understand the realities of development in the ‘third world’, but with a lot more on his mind than a simple exposé.
The real narrative in this funny and clever film leaks out in dribs and drabs, and concerns Satya (the ‘organiser’) and Doya (the driver) and their complicated relationship with Simon. Playing the very model of the modern British documentarian, Simon confounds all expectations and subtly questions the conventions of the documentary genre. In the end, the threats are more immediate, and more serious, than anyone would have guessed.
[director]Simon Chambers was a Youth Worker in London for 14 years, helping disadvantaged teenagers. In 2004 he completed his training at the National Film and Television School in London, where he made The Company We Keep and other documentaries that try to find entertaining ways of approaching serious subjects. The film won the Royal Television Society award for best European Student Documentary 2005. In 2006 his first feature documentary, Every Good Marriage Begins with Tears, was shown on the BBC Storyville strand, and was bought by around 20 countries for TV transmission. It has won a handful of prizes at international festivals. He has just completed Cowboys in India with Rise Films for More4’s True Stories.[/director]