Born into Brothels – a heart touching film

September 11, 2006 at 4:12 pm 2 comments

born into brothel

It is a rare occasion when you get a documentary film like ‘Born Into Brothels‘ in a small video library at your neighborhood. Heard about this disturbingly amazing film quite a long time ago. But then the chances of getting such documentary in the local libraries are always rare. Though easily available at international sites like amazon, the price is for sure, will burn your skin. So, with out a second thought I rented the dvd. Even the guy at the library seemed surprised – “sirji pata nahi yeh chalega ki nahi, ab tak koi pucha nahi tha” (don’t know if it wud work fine, no body had so far asked for it). Understandable, I thought, who wud be interested to watch a few kids from sonagachi, the notorious red-light area in kolkata, battling for a better life and pursuing their dreams thru the lens that Ms Zana Briski brought for them? Pretty logical.

The movie, however, is a bit too over-rated as I felt from a puristic cinamatic perspective. Shot with a handheld video camera, it captures some stunning shots and emotional scenes, especially the ones where the children are shown their works and their outbursts. But sometimes it loses focus on the children and delve much into the surroundings of sonagachi where these kids’ mothers work in inhuman conditions. The title ‘born’ also seems to grab the sympathy of the audience. But what goes in favor of the movie is its noble intention to bring back these children into a normal world that they’re deprived of. The humanity triumphs over the cinematic flaws and negligence. I couldn’t stop myself from crying while seeing the kids’ relentless energies to fight the realities and embracing the opportunity to create the images of their perilous world, the sadness with all smiles. Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman, who co-produced, co-authored and co-directed ‘Born into Brothels’ deserve the applauses for providing us this moving story of a group of children, taking us through their daily lives, whose mothers work as prostitutes and lead a dangerous life at the mercy of touts and customers. Briski, the new York photo journalist, along with Kauffman came to Calcutta for capturing the lives of the sex-workers, fell in love with these children and tried to help them pull out of their tawdry life, often indulging in a battle with the bureaucratic weavings and social threats. No doubt the film won many awards and critical acclaims.

However, the duo are accused of falsely claiming that the film had uplifted the lives of these poor kids and using this touchy story to woo the western world, who went ga-ga over the film. Partha Banerjee, the Calcutta born NewYorkian who worked as an interpreter for Briski and Kauffman, alleged that all are not so great as presented. He wrote to the Oscar panel complaining that the lives of these kids had gone into more miserable condition after the film was made on their lives. Though he praised Briski for her noble intention to help the kids, he blamed her for using the film for purely personal gains and eventually failing to support the kidswhom she exposed to the outer world by the virtue of unwanted media and public attention. The film, too, acknowledged this problem of sustaining the momentum for the kids as many of them dropped out of school and went back to the life they came from, probably to ‘join the line’.

To me personally, it’s a great humanitarian effort, despite all the allegations were made – one cant expect the producers to be saint like for they did everthing they could beyond their professional framework. What they successfully achieved is bringing our attention to this gory world of such kids who are born with the stigma. How many of us do care about them? Have we ever tried to understand that given an opportunity, these kids are not different from the other privileged children of the society? Atleast, they did something by bringing a bit of smiles, however brief it might be, but atleast someone did. She fought hard to take the children to the school, gave them the camera to explore their creative side of the soul. How many did so? At the end, this film carries us so touchingly into these kids’ world, it would take a heart of stone, finally, to ignore them—or to look away from the sometimes dazzling and always meaningful images they create.



Entry filed under: Movies.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. alexmthomas  |  September 12, 2006 at 12:12 am

    Would this movie be available for download online. Impressive. I had seen NAVARASA, one on third gender and MATHRUBHUMI, on female feotecide.
    Its shows the naked facts and its sad.

  • 2. surfryder  |  September 12, 2006 at 9:17 am

    Alex: u can try out using amazon unbox feature. there are shipping options available too. or check out at or very touchy, very touchy indeed.


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