2016 - Ongoing
Hidden Under the Indian Sun
A film by Ed Kashi and Tom Laffay
In the vast rice fields of Andhra Pradesh, Southeastern India, a form of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKDu) is killing workers and leaving their families in a state of economic despair. The causes of the disease range from chronic dehydration, pesticide contamination and heavy metals in the water sources. This disease is being investigated throughout the world, from Central America to the Middle east, and now India. Hidden Under the Indian Sun follows a young student, Maheshwari, whose father is on dialysis and now unable to work digging wells in the rice fields since being diagnosed with CKDu. Her dedication to her studies and her dreams of becoming an engineer are threatened, as she is duty bound to care for her father. Her story illustrates the collateral impact of this disease on families, particularly the younger generations.
Not far away lies another farming village, Balliputtuga, which has 126 widows due to the same nefarious disease. Here, a middle aged woman, Lakshmi, recounts the death of her husband and her necessity to work the fields to feed her family, even as she has developed the disease as well. Her story is emblematic of the toll this disease takes on community's livelihoods and survival.
As Indian researchers begin to join a global alliance to investigate this epidemic, in order to prevent it, thousands of families in Southeastern India contend with the consequences of this hidden disease.