Over the past ten years, more than 200,000 farmers in India have committed suicide, a tragedy that is caused by grinding poverty. But neither the authorities nor the media show any real interest. Nero’s Guests follows journalist Palagummi Sainath who is concerned about the fate of the poor farmers.
Sainath publishes the victims’ stories in The Hindu newspaper. That is quite extraordinary, since "no other newspaper in this country has a correspondent who exclusively writes about poverty". India’s upper class seems to consider that about seventy percent of India’s population has no news value. Poverty at such a large scale is apparently too much to handle for readers. "Is it a sin to be farmer?", a penniless man asks himself in despair. Sainath uses the suicides to highlight the huge welfare gap in India. Filmmaker Deepa Bhatia follows him on his visits to penniless farmer families and while giving crowded lectures. In this entertaining film – Bhatia is a film editor of Bollywood movies – Sainath gets his message across looking straight into the camera. This passionate and well-informed journalist reveals the appalling lack of social justice in India and the hypocrisy of neo-liberalism, referring to Tacitus to wake up his cultivated yet somewhat apathetic audience: Nero burned prisoners to light up the night, while his guests stood by and watched.Palagummi Sainath is one of the ten human rights defenders featured in the main program A Matter of ACT and will attend the festival.