I am extremely picky when it comes to movies. Ask Vj and he will tell you how I spend easily an hour or two on our weekly movie nights, browsing through the options on Netflix, checking the IMDB rating, reading reviews and watching trailers. By that time I make up my mind either our food would go cold, we will feel sleepy and loose our interest to watch a movie (or) Vj would have finished watching a movie on the iPad! But on some rare occasions, all the time I spend on my movie research pays off and we end up watching some good ones.I am a person who virtually gets into the world of the stories I listen or the movies I watch. For me, a good movie has to impact me in someway – a romantic movie should make my heart skip a beat and cause me to fall in love all over again; a mystery or a thriller should keep me on the edge of my seat gripped in fear and curiosity; a comedy must make me LOL or ROFL and a period drama should whisk me back in history to a time, place and era that I have only read in books. As a person who often becomes one with the story, I do not prefer tragedies and si-fi movies are not realistic enough for me to dive into that world.
While mystery and thrillers are my go-to genre for entertainment, documentaries and critically acclaimed movies are what I choose when I am feeling thoughtful and pensive. I find documentaries very powerful. Documentaries are real life stories and not a product of a person’s imagination. It may not be as fast paced as other movies. But when you know something is real, the probability of it impacting you and inspiring you is high.
Following are the two documentaries that left a deep impact on me in 2017. I will first briefly introduce each and then share what these stories did to me!
#1 BORN INTO BROTHELS – Calcutta’s Red Light Kids
This is a very powerful documentary of our time that takes one on a candid journey into the squalid red light district of Calcutta, India and further into the lives of a group of kids who are children of prostitutes. New York-based photographer Zana Briski gifts these kids a camera, teaches them photography and advocates for their future as she simultaneously she stirs and nurtures the irrepressible potential and creativity in these kids by going to great lengths.
#2 DAUGHTERS OF DESTINY – From invisible to unstoppable
This documentary was Oscar-winning filmmaker Vanessa Roth’s seven year project following five girls of different ages, hailing from the most backward, improved homes and ‘untouchable’ communities in India and an Indian-American businessman’s initiative to transform their lives and the destinies of their society! While there are numerous schools catering to and educating the underprivileged, Shanti Bhavan School stands out as its goal is to not merely educate, but to create leaders and influencers who will be the catalyst for change. A. R. Rahman’s soulful music, along with every-shot-a-painting visual and heartfelt interviews of the kids, makes this a compelling four-part Netflix documentary.
The first documentary resonated with me because it is about the kids in my homeland, India and secondly it’s about a photographer. The second documentary moved me for the same reason that it is based in India and because it is about ‘girls’ who are highly discriminated to this day and for the fact that I am a woman and a mother of two girls. Both documentaries pulled me out of the little bubble of comfort I have built around myself.
In the routine of life, we subconsciously get caught up in our little worlds that consist of just us and our immediate families. At some point we get detached from the world we are from and eventually become oblivious to the fact that life in that other world parallelly exists. Our lives begin to revolve only around those within our little bubble and our passions, our aspirations and our hard work are only focused towards their betterment. Well, that’s natural and that’s the way of life.
BUT… If you and I are among those who dream of a better world – a world without illiteracy, hunger, pain, poverty and discrimination, it is high time we burst-forth from our bubbles!
Growing up, we are constantly taught and pressurised to out-perform our classmates, neighbours, cousins and relatives. I can guarantee we are no strangers to the following statements,
‘You got to get a better score than him!’
‘You need to get into a better collage than her!’
‘You better get yourself into a high-paying, fancy profession than your cousin!’
The demand eventually transcends into a prettier spouse, a higher dowry, a bigger home/s and the cycle repeats with the next generation!
Has this culture moulded us into selfish individuals and a self centred generation? A scary question and an alarming plight we have unknowingly got ourselves into!
It is time we reverse this cycle. It’s time we raise a generation by example –
a generation that is sensitive to the needs it is surrounded with,
a generation that begins to think and live for the collective betterment for its fellow humans,
a generation that won’t turn a blind eye, but will strive and courageously speak up for justice,
and a generation that will break evil stereotypes of culture and customs!
As I sit here in the dawn of 2018 with all my career and life goals for the year jotted down, I am asking myself, “What more?” I am beginning to ponder beyond my family, my career and my endless dreams. In what way can I use my talents to influence and impact lives? How can I show my daughters that we can be the change we wish to see? I am clueless at this point. But I am confident, I will soon figure it out and have some stories to share at the end of this year.
I really hope you get to watch these movies, get inspired, break-forth from your bubbles and live a life of positive influence and change!
“We have the choice to use the gift of our life to make the world a better place–or not to bother” ― Jane Goodall