The Clean Slate project aims to enhance self-expression among underprivileged kids through the art of storytelling

Three kids — Ananthi, Ishrani and Srinivasan — who have always enjoyed stories woven by others on the silver screen, are now set to wear the writer’s hat.

Three upcoming filmmakers will help them share their stories, which will be later made into films, under the guidance of filmmaker Vasanth. The funds for these movies will be crowd sourced through indiegogo.com.

Called the Clean Slate project, this venture is the brainchild of Sri Charan, an actor and filmmaker from Los Angeles. “This is a script-to-screen project aimed to enhance self-expression and imagination among underprivileged kids through the art of storytelling. We are doing it in association with Myrtle Social Welfare Network, a UNICEF-recognised NGO,” says Sri Charan, an engineer with Sony Pictures.

Ananthi, Ishrani and Srinivasan are not as lucky as most of us are, but are a source of sunshine to everyone around them. Ananthi’s father is HIV positive and despite his health concerns, he works as a tricycle loader. Her mother is a housemaid.

A class IX student, she helps her mother with cooking and other household work.  Isharani, a class X student, sees her mother, the only earning member in the family, struggle everyday to make both ends meet. Srinivasan is a hearing and speech-impaired child. After the death of his father, his mother, a homemaker until 2013, now has to manage three jobs.

“Through this project, we are not only looking at making films but also providing them with financial support that will help them in their education,” he says.

When he conceptualised the project, he couldn’t think of a better place to start with than his own city.

“I am passionate about three things — children, technology and movies. For a long time, I had been thinking of a platform where I could bring all the three together. I then got an opportunity to work with Young Story Tellers Foundation in the U.S.

The volunteers of this foundation work with public schools and provide underprivileged kids with storytelling tools,” he says.

Everybody has a story to tell but most of us don’t know how to put it across effectively. Storytelling is an art that requires the right tools and according to Sri Charan, the best story to tell is your own.

“I once met this extremely shy 10-year-old girl who opened up during the course of the programme and the transformation was phenomenal,” says Sri Charan. He now knew what he had to do.

After realising the impact of the programme, he decided to bring the concept home but with his own twist to it.

The filmy bug that had bitten him long ago, came into the picture here and thus was born the Clean Slate Project.

He then came to India and shot a promotional video, in which he confessed to being a ‘painfully shy’ kid who loved performance art. Probably this is the reason why he reached out to kids to help them express themselves.

“As a kid, I loved movies. I grew up in Visakhapatnam and adored Chiranjeevi. Close to my school, stood a cave and I often imagined myself, with a bandana tied around my head, holding a girl and emerging from it in style,” he says.

When he was 17, he told his parents that he wanted to be an actor, and typically he was asked to do engineering.

“I went on to study engineering and then moved to the U.S. for work. I joined an acting school there,” he adds. The rest just happened.

The team that will work with the children includes Bala Murugan, an independent filmmaker from Madurai and Arun Arumugam, an associate director in the Tamil film industry.

The funds for this movie will be crowd sourced. “We aim at making 5-10 minute videos using the best of technology and after show time at different festivals.”

For more details and contributions log into check out https://www. indiegogo.com/projects/the- clean-slate-project.