Testimony of Ana (Sachin Dheeraj) India

Testimony of Ana
Sachin Dheeraj
India. 2020. 24 min

Anaben Pawar is an elderly tribal woman accused of witchcraft in rural India. Through Ana,s story, we delve into a deep-rooted culture of patriarchy and examine one of the most monstrous attacks on women,s bodies in modern India: the witch hunt.


Sachin is an engineer turned filmmaker from India. He is currently studying and practicing film at The University of Texas at Austin as part of their MFA program in Film & Media Production. His short documentary “The Bubbleman” premiered at SXSW Denius Longhorn Showcase in 2019 and has played at many festivals, including in the 22nd Annual Cine Las Americas International Film Festival, 2020 Edition of Cinequest Festival & the 13th Annual Lone Star Film Festival in the USA.

He also attended the Summer Filmmaking Initiation workshop at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Artsin Prague(FAMU), the Czech Republic. He strives to tell stories that demand an urgent conversation and seeks to engage with people, places, and communities that are slowly disappearing. Through cinema, he aims to affirm their existence by preserving their lives and memories.

He is a recipient of the prestigious President’s Award for Global Learning for his upcoming UNTITLED VR THESIS FILM. He is also a recipient of the Austin Film Society Grant & a nominee of the Kodak Cinematography Grant for his pre-thesis film, TESTIMONY OF ANA.


Ten years back, during my undergraduate studies in Gujarat, I first came across the term “Witch-Hunting.” I read that “a mob killed an old woman forfeasting on people’ssouls” in a local newspaper. I was probably too young at that time to conceive what I read. However, that story etched itself at the back of my mind. Three years ago, I again came across an article about “Witch-Hunting.” But this time, I wanted to do something about it. Especially after all the filmmaking resources that I knew I had at my disposal.

So I decided to go to Gujarat again to do some fieldwork. I met with some journalists and social justice lawyers who got me in touch with Ana, one of the only few survivors of “Witch-Hunt” attacks in rural Gujarat. When they briefed me about what the villagers did to her, I was shocked and couldn’t stop thinking about it. There were a few news articles that covered her story in 2017. I still was on the fence about whether I should make a film about her or not. Questions like “Who am Ito tell herstory?” and “Why am Ientitled to makethisfilm?” kept bothering me.

But once I met her in person, I was struck by how fearless and strong her voice is. I felt those news articles weren’t enough. I felt people needed to hear her voice. Those questions started to fade away, and there was a sense of urgency that crept up on me, and just a single question emerged, “IfI don’t tell herstory, then who will?” She was hesitant to tell her story first, so I had to show up every day at her house until I gained her trust. Slowly she agreed to have a conversation with me. I had to only work with her memories because the incident happened in 2017.

So I decided to reconstruct them through a lyrical assemblage. My goal in reconstructing these memories is to present to people the evidence of what happened to Ana and revive among generations to come to the memory of her resistance that today is in danger of being erased. Preserving this memory is essential. My project aims to make Ana’s story be heard without any hesitation or fear. I hope that this one story will speak on behalf of a lot of unheard and oppressed voices.