The film follows Dolly Vyas-Ahuja on her journey to save her ancestral land. She is the granddaughter of a freedom fighter who worked with Mahatma Gandhi in his struggle for independence and social justice. She follows in his footsteps, advocating for a renewal of Ahimsa to solve India’s escalating spiritual, health and environmental problems. She says, “I had to take action and share my truth with the rest of India.”
The Land of Ahimsa recently won Best Documentary Feature at the London Film Festival. Drawing rave reviews, the film has also won Best Documentary awards at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, the Boston Independent Film Festival, WRPN International Women's Film Festival and the Cineville Calcutta Global Cinefest. The film also features Maneka Gandhi, a member of India’s lower house of parliament.
This documentary aims to restore the meaning of ahimsa - respect and non-violence towards all living beings - across India. The Land of Ahimsa looks closely at the meaning of the word, which dates back roughly 4,000 years, and is inspired by the notion that all living beings share a spiritual energy. Therefore, to harm another is to harm oneself.
Ahimsa is a central part of the Dhārmic religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism. But, this film shows how India has become disconnected from its meaning. Despite its large vegetarian population, India is seeing a rise in the mistreatment of animals, especially those in the food system. India is considered the world’s largest producer of milk, reportedly accounting for almost a quarter of global milk production. While cows are famously considered sacred in India, this film exposes the institutional cruelties of India’s dairy industry that run counter to the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi who said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
India is known as the diabetes capital of the world. The film shows how this crisis is connected to the population’s rising consumption of dairy. India is considered the world’s largest consumer of cow’s milk. In the film, doctors explain how more and more vegetarians are suffering from diabetes due to increased dairy consumption. Meanwhile, the planet as a whole is seeing the effects of climate change, driven - in part - by methane emissions from industrialized animal farming.
Teaming up with director Aryeman Ramsay, son of the late Bollywood film producer Keshu Ramsay, The Land of Ahimsa sees Dolly Vyas-Ahuja journeying across India and the US. There, she speaks to physicians, environmentalists, philanthropists, and experts in nutrition, spirituality, and advocacy about the importance of ahimsa and its role in modern-day India.
The Land of Ahimsa is executive produced by actor Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones) and Dr. Sailesh Rao (Cowspiracy, What the Health, and Prayer for Compassion) and produced by Dolly Vyas-Ahuja and Mayur Ahuja, and co-executive produced by UnChainedTV founder and former CNN Headline News host Jane Velez-Mitchell (Countdown to Year Zero, New Day New Chef, Pig Little Lies). The documentary features author and Advaita teacher Acharya Prashant, politician Maneka Gandhi, Philip Wollen (former vice president of Citibank), Keegan Kuhn (Cowspiracy, What the Health), Dr. Neal Barnard (Founder of the Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine), authors Dr. Rupa Shah and Dr. Will Tuttle, Abhishek Sinha (founder of plant-based meat brand GoodDot), radiologist Dr. Munish Chawla, physician Dr. Bandana Chawla, Darshana Muzumdar (founder of Ahimsa Land Foundation), Dr. Nandita Shah (founder of SHARAN), optometrist Dr. Deepak Kotecha, mountaineer Kuntal Joisher (thought to be the first vegan to climb Mount Everest), Arvind Animal Activist, Dr. Sulekh Jain (founder of the Jain Academic Foundation of North America), and many more.