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B’luru slum kids ready for reel adventure

A girl during one of the shooting sessions. photo by arrangement

Hooked to cutting edge movie gadgets, 40 children of a slum in Bengaluru’s R T Nagar are busy building dreams of a riveting career in film-making.

Trained by a New York-based filmmaker duo, these kids of masons, rag-pickers, construction workers and auto drivers have crafted short films that tell real, gripping stories of everyday racism, poverty and human endurance.

For Nameeta Premkumar and Kapil Mattoo, co-founders of the FilmBug project, a 14-day workshop with the Bengaluru kids is their first South Indian foray. Countrywide, they have already trained over 350 children from marginalised sections, inspiring them to dream big.

From idea to screenplay, lighting to camera techniques, the children graduate to shoot, act and direct their own films in Final Draft format, a professional standard worldwide. “These children give their hundred percent. The short films they make are brilliant, very powerful,” Nameeta told DH.

On Saturday, after a 12-day intense workshop, the children assembled by Sackhumvit Trust had gone out to shoot for the first time in their lives. Having experienced the summer heat in all its intensity, they had a well-crafted story, ready to be captured on celluloid: Water as oxygen, a riveting, creative look at their own experience.

For their second short film, the children did not have to look far. “It is about skin colour and discrimination, stories culled out from their own lives. These are all powerful stories. We have seen these children become a family, sharing experiences, exchanging creative scripts,” says Nameeta.

Over the last two years, the FilmBug team had seen these young, marginalised workshop participants mature into social changemakers. ‘Brick by Brick’ was one such short film, based on the shocking ordeals of a participant’s mother, a brick yard worker. It was about lack of toilets and how women workers were getting raped when they ventured into a nearby sugarcane field.

But the boy who visualised and produced ‘Brick by Brick’ did not rest after the workshop. He showed the film to the village panchayats, activating them to build toilets so that his mother and thousands like her could be safer.
Indeed, the films gave the children a medium to vent out their fears, their emotions built up over the years.

The two films from the Bengaluru workshop will now be showcased at a festival in Mumbai. “We will take 10 of these children to Mumbai. Those with an inclination will be placed in film-related professions.”

Having produced films and feature series for Netflix, FilmBug’s objective is to build a talent pool. This, as Nameeta informs, has already started working. For instance, one of the children, who was a ragpicker before, had landed a job as an assistant to filmmaker Farah Khan.

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