Posted by: Haley Hastings | February 28, 2010

Reader review: ‘Cowboys in India’

Shared by Anna Beth Blevins, an advanced magazine writing student at MU. The Missourian is featuring reader contributions all weekend. If you’d like to submit your photos, stories or reviews, send them to

Filmmaker Simon Chambers’s hybrid documentary combines humor and horror to shed light on an aluminum mining company’s dastardly designs on a sacred mountain in rural India. The film keeps even the darkest moments light thanks to Chambers’s dynamic duo: Satya, the guide, and Doya, the driver. Together, these men become the Three Musketeers, but these musketeers are cruising around in a dangerous area that echoes more of the Wild West than France.

While the issues of environmentalism, land rights and tradition are all a part of the film, it is Satya and Doya who give it its heart. The men are endearing in their concern for Chambers’s safety, and the segment of the film when they introduce him to their families is heartwarming. Yet, even a sweet moment cannot help turn a confusing controversy into a crystal clear film. Chambers makes it clear that no one really understands what is going on. Even though the evil mining company Vedanta is not allowed to mine until it gets proper government permission, they have already built factories and begun to leach aluminum from the ground.

In the questions and answers session on Thursday night, Chambers explained that he wanted to portray the situation for what it was: unclear. However, for the majority of the film, the audience was left bewildered, unsure of whom to trust and what was even happening. In his quest to let the audience decide for themselves, Chambers deserted his viewers in the Indian jungle without guides like Satya or Doya for company. The film was interesting and at times downright sweet, but the cowboys rode off into the sunset without making sure that the audience was there with them.


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