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Powerless | Katiyabaaz

Producers Deepti Kakkar, Leopold Koegler, Fahad Mustafa


A 28-year-old electrician living in Kanpur is renowned for his prowess in stealing electricity. He is a robin-hood figure, stealing electricity and charging the rich to provide free connections in impoverished neighborhoods. In the face of day-long power-cuts, he runs illegal connections from one neighborhood to another so that homes, factories and businesses could function normally. On the other hand, the city administration is renewing efforts to clamp down on power-theft, which costs them millions of rupees in losses each year. Yearly drives to remove illegal connections are met with street protests and anger. In the meantime, lack of electricity drives people to use generators run on fossil fuels. This is choking the town, making Kanpur one of the most polluted cities in India. A picture emerges of a modern dystopia encompassing urban decay and desperation in the lack of electricity. Underlying the localized crisis in Kanpur, India’s leather capital, which provides raw material to major western brands, is the glaring energy poverty in the country, where a third of the population is bereft of this basic need, and the rest grapple with power-cuts that dictate their own terms. Powerless puts a lens to an unexplored Fiction of one of the world’s fastest developing economies.

About The Team

Fahad Mustafa (Director/Producer) was born in Kanpur, grew up in the Middle East, and has lived, studied and worked in India, Europe and North America. Fahad was an Erasmus Mundus Scholar and has previously worked as a researcher with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and as a freelance writer on energy and development issues in India. Fahad Mustafa’s first feature-length documentary FC Chechnya premiered in 2010 and has won the Audience Award for Best Film at the This Human World Film Festival in Vienna.

Deepti Kakkar (Co-Director/Producer) has worked on several projects in the field of sustainable livelihood development focusing on South Asia, with international NGOs and research groups. She was an Erasmus Mundus Scholar and has previously directed a film on microfinance in India for CARE. Deepti worked on story-development and as production manager on FC Chechnya.

Leopold Koegler (Producer) is a PhD researcher at the University of Vienna. His research interest is globalization and history, and wants to explore these themes cinematically, his other passion. Leopold was an associate producer on FC Chechnya.

Maria Trieb (Producer/Cinematographer) has been working as a cinematographer and editor for the last five years. She has experience in working on advertisements (Red Bull, OeRF, TelekomAustria), music videos (Anna F), documentaries and short films. She has worked in several locations in Europe, the Americas, North Africa and India.

Jamal ‘Faizy’ Mustafa and Ahsan Iqbal: The local crew in Kanpur, assistant to the director and production assistant respectively, they were both born and are living in Chamanganj, Kanpur. Both were invaluable in gaining access to people and places in Kanpur, especially the closed world of the electricity thieves.

Powerless | Katiyabaaz is a Cinereach grantee.