Tell the Water to Pass on our Dreams

Advik Beni & Nehal Vyas

South Africa & India

Genre: Documentary
Length: 70’
Project status: Development
Budget : 211 776 €
Acquired budget: 20 976 €
Shooting countries: South Africa, India

First Feature Film

In November 1860, under the draconian British Raj, the first ship carrying Indian indentured labourers docked at Natal, South Africa. Guided by the ocean, mythologies, theater and archives—political and familial—this film traces these departures, journeys and arrivals. An Arkati (someone known to work on ports and harbors), a grandmother and a mythical river weave a history of this event and the remnants it has left on the two filmmakers’ nations.
In the absence of an officially recognized archive of indenture—our film aims to imagine one such rendition of an archive.

Note of intention

We—Advik and Nehal—were born and raised in Durban, South Africa and Jaipur, India respectively. We grew up hearing about the draconian British Raj and it’s long lasting colonial impressions, like one does in any Indian household. We both belong to the two communities this film speaks about. Advik’s family moved to South Africa through indentureship, and most of his family’s history is unknown and remains untraceable. He is part of the “born free” generation of South Africa—the generation born after the end of apartheid. Nehal’s ancestors lived through British rule and settled in Rajasthan post the partition of the Indian subcontinent. They have been working within different government sectors since Independence to help build the national identity.
Through this film, we aim to navigate the multiple realms ways through which the colonial entity ceased our imaginations, and how we the now ‘independent’ must claim it from them.


Advik Beni & Nehal Vyas


• Amma ki Katha | Nehal Vyas | 2023 | 21’ • Ilanga Alikho | Advik Beni | 2022 | 7’
• Jikele Maweni Ndiyahamba | Advik Beni 2022 | 4’
• Sincerely Yours, Ethel Browne Harvey | Advik Beni, Beatrice Steinhert & Beth Ribeiro | 2022 | 12’
• Dapaan | Nehal Vyas | 2021 | 6’
• Nomvula | Advik Beni & Jason Maselle 2019 | 15’
• Saleh Bhambru | Nehal Vyas | 2017 | 17’


Producer: Luis Gutiérrez Arias (USA)

Selective filmography

Stéphanie Roland

Chloé Galibert-Laîné

Dan Sallitt

Paula Rodríguez Polanco

Riar Rizaldi

Leonardo Mouramateus

Katsuya Tomita

Ra Di Martino