★★★★ Directed by: Diganta Dey Starring: Sukomol Basak Short Film Review by: Alexandra James
Documentaries unveil life’s hidden gems whether this be through real events or an expose’ of some extraordinary people. It allows society an opportunity to connect with others around them by revealing the weird and the wonderful and showing our world in its rawest form, providing honest revelations behind the world’s mysteries.
Roadside Scientist follows Sukomol Basak, a humble man, living within the isolated side of West Bengal, India. The story highlights the severity of poverty and the effects it has on those aspiring to be recognised and achieve greatness. We learn that Basak is a respected man within his community and clearly has high expectations for himself. Many of his friends and family praise his intellect and encourage his goals. In 2005, Basak invented a self-dispensing liquid system, an invention that could help revolutionise the water conservation industry, which is key in cutting down India’s water wastage.
Although he received the President Award, his innovation was unable to be kick started due to his financial status. This documentary really hits home about the issues that surround wealth, class and status. That even those that seek to help others and create a far more efficient way of living for society can often be silenced or not given a voice due merely to people’s position in life.
It was right, in my eyes, to have pure focus on Sukomol Basak, to hear from those around him and are part of his life speak highly of Basak was extremely inspiring. Allowing him to share his story and deliver him a voice that enabled some form of recognition for the work that he has produced was obviously an important aspect of the documentary and I felt that this was a heart-warming moment. It may have been in the director’s interest to highlight in a clearer or more defined manner, an explanation as to how this innovation would have been able to benefit many and create a sufficient lifestyle for others, to show the importance of Basak’s invention.
The audience could have been able to relate more to Basak's situation if there was more of an insight into his home life, family life etc. Perhaps some additional shots of his home and family would have solidified Basak's humble nature and created an even brighter image of the tremendous work he has been able to create, despite his educational background.
Roadside Scientist is the short story of a man searching for a better life for his family and hoping that his work achieves the recognition it deserves. Although focused on one man, the documentary clearly highlights the much wider issues regarding the huge divide between the rich and poor, and points the finger at society, advocating them to change their ways.