Films for change: Gauri Warudi on Jyotirgamay

Gauri Warudi attempts to throw light on the efforts of good samaritans working for education in the grassroots.

Poverty and the unavailability of educational facilities deprive many children in India of education and progress in life. Basic education at the grass-root level is still a dream for thousands and thousands of children and much work needs to be done in this regard. However, there are many unsung heroes and organizations who are quietly and tirelessly working to make dreams come true for children from the lower economic strata and rural areas.

In ‘Jyotirgamay” (literally meaning from darkness to light), Gauri Warudi attempts to throw light on the efforts of such heroes, altruists, and good samaritans. The film is based on visits to such organizations and individuals who are working for to uplift of the needy through education.

1. What inspired you to make a film on this subject?

Honestly my dad’s struggle to get education and to educate his siblings was what had actually drawn my attention to this subject. It had been long on my mind and I had kept notes for it in my folder hoping to work on it some time. Both my husband and I come from humble, middle class families; yet we were lucky to get good quality education and uncomplicated life styles, thanks to our parents. However, we have been acutely aware of the fact that there are thousands and thousands of lesser privileged people who cannot avail of a decent life, leave alone education. Having said that, we also believe in the importance of education for the upliftment of people. In our own small way we help educate a few children every year. This is just a drop in the ocean, I know. Which is why, a film on the topic seemed to be the answer, to spread awareness of this issue on a priority basis.

2. Where and from whom do you draw your influences in filmmaking? 

Inarguably, my film teacher Jeroo Mulla, who was so passionate in teaching us the subject and sharing nuances on film making, film analysis and more, that it had ignited a strong desire, for filmmaking, in me since the 80s!! However it wasn’t until 2005, that I got to make my first documentary. Again, due to another hard push by my teacher Prof AS Kanal, under whom I studied Digital Filmmaking in Vikshi Institute of Media Studies .

As a member of the Executive Committee of IDPA (Indian Documentary Producers’ Association), I had the chance to interact with well known filmmaker and Green Oscar winner, Mike Pandey, who was our President and yes, he too has influenced my way of thinking about documentary filmmaking. In fact, when I decided to finally make Jyotirgamay, I did discuss the viability of it with Mike and he had encouraged me to start work on it.

Above all, the continuous support from my husband and family has been my biggest inspiration to keep dabbling in filmmaking.

3. Share an instance/incident/moment during the making of this film that was instrumental in its final touches?

Well, my first schedule of Jyotirgamay was in village Aina, near Dahanu in Maharashtra, at a residential school for adivasi children. To be truthful, I wasn’t prepared to find what I did…such selfless work being put in by people without much ado. Also the condition of the children there, despite so much work going on, made a deep impact on my mind. Same was the case when I shot at Mumbai’s street schools (footpath schools); the sheer joy and enthusiasm I found on the faces of children coming to these schools and making an effort to learn, was a very emotional moment for me; besides giving me a heavy heart with just the thought of what a HUGE amount of work lies ahead for us as a society!!

Yet, I know there is hope, which is why I finally decided to have the shot of candles being lit as a symbolic expression of spreading the light of knowledge!

You can catch Jyotirgamay at SCRIPT film festival on 8th February, 2013. 

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