‘The men who enter our building are not so good. They are drunk. They come inside shout & swear. The women ask me, “When are you going to join the line?” They say it won’t be long. I worry that I might become like them.”
It’s deeply penetrating confession of 10 year old sweet girl named Puja living in dark underbelly of Kolkota’s Sonagachi Red light area.
This 2005 Oscar winning documentary raised really a shocking question- What is the future of children like10 year old Kochi, Suchitra or beautiful Puja? Will they get education & be something on their own or they will also join the same line their mothers & aunts followed- end up in the streets & be Prostitutes.’ The children really want to learn something, they want to join school & be a good citizen of country but who cares damn about them. They have to write their own destiny in the most adverse circumstances against all odds. As it’s also a disturbing reality of our social system in India that no school will avail the education & boarding facility to the children of sex workers.
It’s almost impossible to photograph in the red light district. Everyone is terrified facing the camera. It’s whole separate society no matter how much you avoid or turned your face down. Watching this documentary is disturbing & equally thought provoking because it raised the question Mira Nair shot in her shocking semi-documentary film ‘Salaam Bombay’.
To make the documentary as realistic as possible the director Zana Briski stayed in brothels handling a workshop with the children of red-light & teaching them photography. Watching brothels from the eyes of children who are the product of the same ugly reality & peep into the lives of them is deeply agonizing & moving life experience. Director Ross Kauffman & Zana Briski have saved this documentary becoming too dark & made it in one of the profound humanitarian way & that’s only possible when you perceive the sensibility among upsetting reality through the eyes of women film maker like Zana Briski. And its not only filming a documentary images but Director’s appreciable humanitarian attempt of getting them find better education which becomes the soul & solution of the subject. She toiled really hard struggling with almost unfunctional Indian Government & other Institutional system to raising fund money back in Manhattan by selling the photographs taken by these children with the help of NGO like Amnesty International or Sotheby’s auction. Zana has set a whole new paradigm into the lives of these children & it’s literally bringing them the HOPE out of their dark corners; whether it’s sending few kids to boarding school or made possible for exceptionally talented Avijit to fly Amsterdam for to attend World Press Photo Exhibition. But its heart wrenching to know that it’s only Kochi who stays at the Sabera School & she’s happy & doing well. She’s the only tree of HOPE that survives.
I specially like to recommend this documentary to all thinking Indians to watch this hopeful mission of education. It's a humble attempt to provide them a chance to know that a world exists outside the red light area. It would be really humanitarian mission if we all do some efforts in whatever limited or individual way we can to save these poor souls & sponsor at least one of them a chance to impart education & provide them a chance of better future.