Competition among Girls in Red Light Districts for Docu Award
By Hemanth Reddy S 18/01/2016

 Society calls them daughters of sex workers or brothel-sisters. But these 25 girls living in red light districts dream of being much more than that. Armed with cameras, they have all directed five-minute-long documentaries each. The subject, quite naturally, is something that they are familiar with. All these 25 documentaries are now in competition that will be held at Max Mueller Bhawan on Tuesday.

Today, three girls will get prizes and three others will get a special mention at an award ceremony. "Aseem Asha, a teacher at the Jamia Millia Islami University, agreed to do these workshops with the children in Delhi, Bihar and Kolkata. They were taught to write a script and make a storyboard. The films don't look glossy at all but reflect the stark reality," explained Ruchira Gupta of Apne Aap which came up with the idea of this competition to lend a voice to the invisible.

Cinematographer Ranjan Palit: Fascism is lurking in our living rooms

Fatima Khatoon was around nine when she was trafficked from the borders of Bihar. Her home in Jogbani was right on the Indo-Nepal border in Bihar side. From her father's side, she belongs to the 'nat' community. This was a nomadic group labelled as criminal tribe under British colonialism. Fatima was married to a 34-year-old man who was running a brothel. She was his third wife and was pushed into soliciting customers till Apne Aap started a community centre there. By then, she was 20. Last year, she was on 'Kaun Banega Crorepati' with Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukerji. Fatima even ended up making Rs 16 lakh.

Three of Fatima's daughters have made stunning documentaries that are in competition. Her 14-year-old daughter, Kajol, was picked up by the cops in 2012. "The cops raided the red light area. Instead of those who ran the trafficking racket, they rounded up Fatima and her daughters! When Kajol was asked to make a movie, she made one on the cop's raid. The documentary is called 'Andha Dhund Raid'," said Ruchira.


Jyoti, another daughter of Fatima, now goes to college in Patna. Titled 'Yeh bhi parampara', her film is about "inter-generation prostitution". Jyoti's sister, Salina, is 10 years old and has made a film on the domestic violence that she has seen in brothels. Jury member and cinematographer, Ranjan Palit is so moved by all the works that he said, "I am actually learning a lot from these girls."




Seventeen-year-old Dolly Mahato lives in a place in Khiddirpore that's close to red light area in Munsiganj. "My father is poor and he couldn't afford a better place. So I stay here. But I go to school. Since I see the way women are treated in brothels, I know how exploited they are. Some of my friends there have been trafficked too. That's why I decided to film this in my documentary titled 'Kali'," Dolly said. Though her parents haven't been in this trade, Dolly admits that she too has to answer uncomfortable questions because of her place of residence. "Some believe me when I say that I live there because I can't afford a better place. Others, I can understand, don't," Dolly added.




But that hasn't stopped her from curbing her dreams of giving a voice to the unheard. On Tuesday and Dolly and her friends are waiting to show society an unseen world through their eyes.

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