Hot As Hell: A Profile of Dhanbad is a documentary film series in five half-hour parts directed and part-produced by Paranjoy Guha Thakurta in 2006-07 in partnership with the Public Service Broadcasting Trust. The film explains why underground fires – literally and metaphorically – are raging for so many years in and around the township of Jharia in Dhanbad district in Jharkhand, one of India’s oldest coal mining areas and a major dot on the global map for fossil fuels. At a literal level, tens of thousands of residents of the town are living on top of a veritable inferno. At a metaphorical level, there are powerful mafia organisations that rule over this region – by bagging contracts, running extortion rackets, supervising organised pilferage and exploiting the underprivileged in a variety of ways.
The first part of the film “Jharia’s Underground Fires” provides a historical backdrop to coal mining in the area, the second part is titled: “Most Polluted Place on Planet Earth”, the third: “Long Arm of the Law”, the fourth: “Dhanbad’s Dons” and the fifth: “Resource Curse.” The series was one of the films nominated for screening in the “livelihood” category at the Vatavaran Documentary Film Festival that took place in New Delhi in September 2007. A one-hour version of the film titled: “Inferno: Jharia’s Underground Fires” was broadcast in two parts on Doordarshan (National) and Doordarshan News in April and May 2007. A short, 22-minute version of the film was also shown on New Delhi Television (NDTV) 24x7. A 72-minute version of the film was also made.
"An extraordinarily fine documentary on the coal city of Dhanbad which is sitting on a cauldron of raging fire for the past century. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta probes into the psyche of this politically turbulent city and emerges with rare insight and understanding in this sharply perceptive and sensitive film" – Shyam Benegal, renowned film-maker.