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Little boy sunshine
caleidoscope

There is a sudden burst of light inside the 4x10ft shanty in Taltala, but its owners Shamim and Humera remain in perpetual darkness. They are blind. Humera Begum’s worry right then is that her three-year old son Bilal might accidentally touch the wires. But Bilal is sighted and smarter than his years. He is the mainstay of his parents’ lives.

Through Sourav Sarangi’s camera one sees Bilal hunting out the sugar tin or helping his parents cross the street. He sometimes turns to the camera with those large dark twinkling eyes that are both innocent and brave.

Bilal, screened last week at Max Mueller Bhavan, could be Bengal’s Slumdog Millionaire. It has won over a dozen awards in 2009, including a Silver Ace at the Las Vegas International Film Festival. Funded by the Dutch IDFA Jan Vrijman Fund, this tale of survival was difficult to shoot because the crew had to be stationed within Shamim’s shanty. Perhaps because Shamim and Humera are actors with the Blind Opera and know Sourav, they did not object to the venture. The film, shot over 14 months with a three-member crew, was whittled down to the 88-minute short on the editor’s table.

The film details the Taltala milieu, the ajaan from the mosque, the daily squabbles within the family and neighbours and the support of other families during hard times. Jharna, who married Shamim and became Humera Begum, feels Shamim’s naivete allowed the local party and police officials to rob them of their main source of income — the Bilal STD booth.

Smoke and fire

At a press meet on obesity recently smokers felt the heat. When questions were invited, a woman reporter put her hand up. But the doctor on the panel butted in. “If you’re a smoker, don’t bother to ask questions concerned with obesity or anything health-related,” he ranted. “You people (reporters) smoke the most, and smoking causes more deaths than anything else!” An awkward silence descended. Wouldn’t suggesting ways of quitting be better than extinguishing smokers?

Criminal fantasy

Write out your criminal fantasy and win. If you are not afraid of corpses littering the floor or exploring deep psychological scars that reveal themselves in ghastly acts, here’s your chance. The British Council with Crossword Bookstore has announced a crime story contest, for which you have to send your contribution by 10 November to Nibedita.Gho- sh@in.britishcouncil.org, within 3.00pm. The work will be judged by best-selling British crime writer Jake Arnott, who will be in the city. For more information contact British Council, which is also holding, with Ken Sprague Fund UK, a cartoon contest on climate change. Entries have to be submitted by November 30.

(Contributed by Sebanti Sarkar and Ranjabati Das)

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