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Animated film on child trafficking for Kolkata schools

Director wants to show short in 1,000 schools in Bengal, Maharashtra, Delhi-NCR and Kerala

Debraj Mitra | Published 16.12.21, 08:58 AM
A still from Reena Ki Kahani.

A still from Reena Ki Kahani.

Screengrab

An animated short film on child trafficking will be shown to school students in and around Kolkata, said its makers. 

The Hindi film, based on the real-life story of a Bangladeshi girl rescued from a brothel in Bengal, was released online last week.

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Reena Ki Kahani, spanning nine minutes and thirty seconds, is peppered with colourful images. It shows a young girl with a melodious voice spending her time in an idyllic village setting. The lure of participation in a reality show changes her life. She is trafficked by an acquaintance who entices her with the promise of a successful singing career.

The makers want to reach out to a larger audience, “especially as many children as possible”. They are in talks with the heads of “around 1000 schools” across the country, including several in Kolkata and neighbouring South and North 24 Parganas, for possible online screenings because of the pandemic.

The film ends with a woman — on whose life the story is based — appealing for a collective effort to combat trafficking. Her masked face is blurred.

“The woman, a resident of Bangladesh, was trafficked at the age of 14, in 2015. She was rescued from a brothel in Bengal the next year,” said Samir Baptist, the chief executive officer of Vihaan, an NGO that is behind the initiative.

Vihaan works for rescue and rehabilitation of trafficking survivors and has presence in multiple states, including Bengal. The girl who inspired the film was also rescued and rehabilitated by Vihaan. She has since gone back to her home and is married now, said Baptist.

“We wanted the film to appeal to the masses. We wanted to show what made girls vulnerable. It is not always poverty. The traffickers also tap into aspirations,” said Baptist.

The film has been directed by Shreedhar BS, a documentary film maker tracing his roots to Kerala and working mostly out of Mumbai.

“A lengthier documentary-style approach would have suited my needs as a film maker but not the main purpose of the project — to reach out to as many children as possible. The animation style and the brevity of the film are tools to that end,” said Shreedhar, director of Shred Creative Lab Private Limited.

In the past, he has collaborated with Turner Broadcast UK, National Geographic, Fox, and Sony Motion Pictures. Earlier this year, his documentary, In Our World, which highlighted the lives of three autistic kids, premiered at the 51st International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa.

Reena Ki Kahani released across the social media handles of Shred Creative Lab on December 10, the International Human Rights Day.

“We want the film to be shown at 1,000 schools in Bengal, Maharashtra, Delhi-NCR and Kerala. We are already in the process of reaching out to the heads of many schools, requesting for an online screening if the pandemic does not allow physical shows,” said Shreedhar.

The two districts neighbouring Kolkata, North and South 24 Parganas, are known trafficking hotbeds. The large-scale loss of livelihood, triggered by the pandemic and successive cyclones, have made families poorer and their girls more vulnerable to trafficking, said activists.

Last updated on 16.12.21, 08:58 AM
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