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Documentary recommendation: born into brothel

Viewed 2368 times 2016-1-12 15:21 |System category:News| commercial, cultural, destiny, making, shared

  When Zana Briski first taught the kids photography, she did not think about making a documentary about them. She simply wanted to befriend the kids in the red district to reciprocate being allowed to photograph their mothers. Here in Sonagachi, reputedly the largest red district in India and even in Asia, the Chittaranjan Avenue has demarcated the life of residents from the cultural richness and commercial boom of Calcultta. On the brothel-clogged streets, those kids shared the same destiny: prostitutes are their grandmothers, mothers and they in the future alike. Physical and verbal abuse was a “routine”. Being taught to take photos might flavour their life of never-ending chores. But a vista without hope was not changed until Zana organized an exhibition for their works. Avijit, a boy who has shown outstanding talent in arts and creativity was even chosen to attend a conference in Amsterdam. Zana then made her efforts sending the kids to school but the complicated procedures exhausted the little patience of their parents.

  The documentary was widely acclaimed and received a string of accolades including an Academy Award in 2004. Zana further established a non-profit organization, “kids with camera” striving to transform the lives of marginalized children through learning photography. The fund raised by the organization, the sale of the works of the kids and the income of the documentary have offered chances for the kids’ education. One of the major casts, Preeti Mukherjee along with others were sent to US to study. Everything was like a fairy tale. She was even picked up to receive the golden Oscar statuette for the documentary in the ceremony.


  While others continue their blessed lives in United States, Preeti stepped back. One day she received her mother’s call begging her  to come back and promising her education in India. But it was a trap. Her life went back to the previous trajectory to becoming a prostitute. But her fame due to the documentary has won her clients of extremely power people. Two journalists from the Times of India interviewed her in 2009 capturing her prosperity - she has rent one of the most expensive Sonagachhi buildings and been paying for the living expense of her mother. "At this age, I have a flat in Salt Lake, a laptop, costly phones and plenty of money. What do I lack?"


  A life of degeneration or independence? Only Preeti knows.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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