Slum children get lesson on empathy through films

The dingy hall at Basti Vikas Kendra in New Seemapuri bustled with young children from the slum nudging their way in to catch the back-to-back screening of four films.

Written by Sweta Dutta | New Delhi | Published: March 8, 2009 3:19 am

The dingy hall at Basti Vikas Kendra in New Seemapuri bustled with young children from the slum nudging their way in to catch the back-to-back screening of four films.

The children,a bit distracted by the crowd,stayed glued to the large screen. Though most children living in New Seemapuri confessed to being movie buffs and huge fans of Salman Khan,they never had the opportunity to watch a film with so many of their friends,that too on such a large screen.

In a bid to get film festivals out of plush auditoriums and high-profile screenings,the Society for the Promotion and Inculcation of Human Aspirations (SPRIHA),an NGO working in slums,organised the Sadak Chhap Film Festival for these children in collaboration with the Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI).

The festival proved to be a huge hit at the inaugural screening itself. “We love watching films and we often watch movies in the evenings after my father returns home from work. But the films screened today were so different,” Farzana Asif (12) said.

The films screened on Saturday included titles like Chirayu,Chhoo Lenge Akaash,Jawab Aaega and Udan Chhoo by eminent filmmakers like Sai Paranjpe,Virendra Saini and Ismat Chugtai,and dealt with issues like poverty,empathy among children and physical handicap.

“The social structure in slums is quite multilayered with migrants from different cultural landscapes. The screening and the discussion that followed were aimed at inculcating empathy among the children and also at getting them together to share their views and opinions on issues like poverty,” Pankaj Dubey,founder of SPRIHA,said.

The film festival goes to the slums of Dharavi next weekend,where Rubina Lal,who acted in Slumdog Millionaire,will attend it. SPRIHA also plans to announce the sponsorship of Rubina’s education at the fest next week.

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