Director: Rahul Jain/2016
DVD Street Date: November 28, 2017
Kino Lorber theatrical has released the DVD of director Rahul Jain’s convicting documentary, Machines. In this film, Rahul Jain uses the camera much like Gianfranco Rosi does where it is simply capturing the ebb and flow of the day to day experiences that workers have in a gigantic textile factory in Gujarat, India. In the midst of it all, we are given short interviewers with workers and management, that frames the plight of so many of its workforce. The larger struggle of workers worldwide, in less developed nations, culminates into the microcosm of this one factory.
As the camera sits among the many machines and vats that make the dye for the fabric, and the fabric itself, we hear the rattle and hum (U2), and rhythms of the constant workings of these machines. It is a constant barrage of similar sounds day in and day out for the workers who spend 12 hours a day trying to earn money for their families. Often, the workers are coming from great distances (hours away by train) to do many shifts. Some workers work a 12 hour shift, go away for an hour to eat, and sit down, before coming back up for another shift. Younger children work at the factory, and we watch horrified as they slowly drift to sleep, hypnotized by the constant pulsations and rhythms of the machines, knowing that this may result in injury, if they nod off.
The interviews tell a strong story of how unregulated the factory is, allowing the company to make large profits off of the backs of its workers, without the overhead expenses of basic safety standards that many workers in developed nations have come to expect. The desire to unionize or simply act in unison to force the management to hear the worker’s concerns is a desire that doesn’t stand a chance of materializing. It is a fantasy as each worker may desire better working conditions, less hours, and higher wages, but each have given up so much to simply find this job, which pays so much higher than anything they are making back home, that no one wants to risk losing the very thing they have. Even if that means, never getting to at least make known what it is that they want.
The management of the place is a vast labyrinth of individuals who are often so far removed from those workers that they oversee, that most would not recognize the employees they are in charge of. Their view of the workers is that they are lazy, and demanding, and they tout all of the wonderful things they have brought to the factory, but describe how they feel their efforts aren’t appreciated by their workers.
Meanwhile, amid all of the back and forth, and political posturing from both sides, we simply hear the hum of the machines, and the monotonous tasks the workers must undertake 12 hours at a time and we realize that nothing is about to change.
The film is beautifully shot, and places the viewer directly into the world that it is trying to capture. While you will not have to struggle through the 12 hour work day that these workers must endure, you will get a real sense of their struggle, their frustration, and also be amazed at their resilience, good humor, and strong commitment to their families and loved ones that they endure it all for.
Kino Lorber has released this on DVD with 1.78:1, 16×9 ratios. The film is 71 minutes long and is presented in color, and 5.1 surround sound. The language in the film is in Hindi, with some English, and the DVD has optional English sub-titles.