A fundraising venture took Shajan Samuel amidst underprivileged children in June this year. “Most lived in slums, where parents earned not more than Rs. 2000 a month. But the kids were all smiles, brimming with confidence, so positive in their outlook, were exuberant, vibrant, spoke good English…”
His interaction with the children at Sukrupa, a Bangalore-based NGO providing free education to the underprivileged, left the public speaker and senior vice president Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC) wondering about the kind of effect education has on the life of a child.
When he was asked to make a film for the organisation, he was working on a crowd-funded film about a kid from Chennai’s slums who went on to make it big at BITS-Pilani. “I noticed many crowdfunded films remain incomplete for lack of funds,” says Shajan. So he went on to make a “proud-funded” film that told the story of not one such child but many others. The eight-minute documentary has been co-funded by 34 people — family and friends — who have taken pride in being part of the venture, he adds. The film has been made by professionals; it’s written and directed by Prashanth Malur.
“The narrative of my film is on ‘education for all, education as a birth right. It resonates with Pandit Nehru’s speech about how education will change our nation, so I wanted to release it on Children’s Day,” he says. He reels off statistics that support his cause — 40 per cent of India’s children live below the poverty line. Over 400 million children in India will not drive the car they clean, will not read the newspaper they deliver and will not own the tractor they drive. Over 60 per cent of children between age eight to 14 don’t go to school; India has the largest number of class-eight drops outs in the world. “In India how far you go in life depends on the parents you are born to, and the pin code you’re born in,” he puts it rather brusquely. The film will be screened at the Karnataka Short Film Festival on November 29, and subsequently travel to several other film festivals across India, he says.
“It’s not just about making a film. I plan to screen the film in colleges to coax students to start teaching less privileged children within their own community; maybe just begin at home teaching your maid’s child. I also hope to screen it through NGOs and Government bodies so that children understand that there are opportunities out there which they should make use of.”
The film will be released on November 14 at Sukrupa, R.T. Nagar, near Rajeev Gandhi Dental College, at 12 noon.