Students film inmates’ life after prison

Petty thefts,robbery,rape or murder - crime stories are the staple for most news channels and newspapers.

Written by Hamari Jamatia | New Delhi | Published: February 28, 2009 12:18:59 am

Petty thefts,robbery,rape or murder – crime stories are the staple for most news channels and newspapers. While gory tales of crime make headlines,life beyond jail is an area where few care to tread.

A team of students from the Indraprastha College for Women have ventured out to explore how life treats prisoners after they’ve left their barred cells.

For their final year project,Ankita Chawla,Meghana Rawat and Rini Chatterjee,three undergraduate students of Mass Media and Mass Communication from IP College started studying the prison reform programmes in Tihar Jail. They soon managed to trace seven former prisoners who had given up crime for good after spending a term in Tihar. During their incarceration,they had also picked up valuable skills which has now enabled them to make a living.

The students are making a 25-minute video as part of their final year assignment. In the video,they talk of how Tihar Jail provides education,painting,dancing,theatre and various other skills in jail and how the training comes in handy once the inmates are released.

The team is capturing on celluloid success stories of former inmates. While some are working in the IT sector,others are running restaurants. A few have even taking up painting. There are some poignant portrayals as well. One of the protagonists of the film is a person declared innocent after spending five years in jail while the trial was on.

The ‘filmmakers’ say the documentary does not shy away from showing how ‘leading a normal life’ is a constant challenge for the former inmates. It is very difficult for them to shed the jail bird tag as society starts treating them differently once their past catches up.

“People fail to understand that whatever their crimes,they have served their punishment and are trying to move ahead,” says Meghana.

Ankita says that such is the level of distrust that she found it very hard to convince people to appear in her documentary. “For months,I had to convince them that the film will not be aired commercially and that their identities will not be disclosed,” she says.

The documentary is under production and is expected to be ready by mid-March only for private screening. “It can’t be commercialised because according to the former prisoners,the media has always presented them in a bad light,” adds Ankita

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