An Ever-Evolving Virtual World, And Its Impact
Film-maker draws on life for story of two cultures
INDIFFERENT BISTANDERS: How long can we ignore reality and live like indifferent bystanders???
INDIFFERENT BISTANDERS: How long can we ignore reality and live like indifferent bystanders???

The UN Charter on Children's Rights has been adopted by all but two countries in the world, making it the most endorsed treaty in the world. It articulates the rights of children, including freedom from discrimination in any form: (Article 2: Children must be treated " … without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of … race, colour, sex, language, religion … or other status." the right to a family with two parents: Articles 5 & 18: State signatories must "… respect the … rights and duties of parents … [and recognize that] both parents have common responsibilities for the upbringing … of the child.", and where that is not possible, the right to appropriate alternative care: Articles 20 & 21: The State shall "ensure alternative care … [for] a child … deprived of his or her family environment … [according to] the best interests of the child ….". It also demands the highest possible quality of health care be afforded to the child: Article 24: All children have the right to "the highest attainable standard of health … [including access to] primary health care … nutritious foods and clean drinking-water." However, the fact that almost every country in the world endorses this treaty does not necessarily mean the articles of the Charter are followed.

The reality is that many of the provisions of the Children's Rights Charter are not met. As we speak many children live in destitution or are exploited at work. According to UNESCO's website, 'Programme for the Education of Children in Difficult Circumstances', over 100 million children live in poverty and distress. These children are almost invariably treated with indifference by governments and civil authorities (UNESCO, 2006.) These children have little to no education, meaning they are kept in a cycle of menial jobs and poverty that is perpetuated by ignorance.

Education is an inherent right of every child, but there are millions who are deprived of education. Although every child is guaranteed "the highest attainable standard of health" (Children's Rights Charter, Article 24, 1989), millions die from preventable diseases as we in the civilised world watch them die like indifferent bystanders.

"Hori Alone in Kolkata". a 64 minute film about the journey of a child labour in India. This film was screened in the ACT and televised by "Channel Vision", and the film was discussed at the ACT Legislative Assembly by Ms. Karin McDonald (see Hansard Transcript). The film had its international debut at Nandan, in Kolkata, India, on 31st December 2007. Thanks to all cast and crew who believed in this project and dedicated their time and energy to make this project possible.


By Paramita Roy

It was December 2005, a team of five from Australia were busy working on a film project in the city of Kolkata. The story was about an eleven year old Muslim boy Mohammad, disguised as Hindu Hori, traveled all alone to the city of Kolkata, to find a job in order to support his family back in his village.
India produces more than a thousand films a year, and this particular medium has immense influence on the masses, and especially the newer generations.
Growing up in this rich visual culture, even those who can't read or write can still read the visual subtext, and visual cues very competently and accurately. The people in India are quite knowledgeable about this powerful medium of film. People with families and friends regularly go to the movies to be entertained. Like royal watchers in Britain and Australia, people follow film culture and lives of celebrities very closely and diligently. They know what elements make a film saleable, what makes it a commercial success, and I wasn't spared by anyone who knew the purpose of my trip to Kolkata in December of 2005. Every chance people got they would stop and advice me on my project. Many of them dismissed my idea straightaway saying, "Who would be interested in a film about a little kid?" and offered me their words of wisdom. "How about a romantic love story, a comedy, or, perhaps a remake of The Godfather in India? Can't you write a story about a romance between an Australian man and an Indian woman or vice versa?" and so on.
I knew that our film didn't have the required formula, the spice, a twist in the end. Swapan, my uncle's young chef, advised me quietly: "Didi, you still have time, make a few little changes, add some romance, a bit of violence, spice it up with some Bollywood dance and that's all you need to make your film a sure hit!" I thanked him and all the others for their genuine concerns, and tried to avoid any further debate or discussion on this subject.
We were working almost 18 hours a day, planning, auditioning hundreds of actors, mostly with acting experience in tele-films, rehearsing with the main cast, and our super efficient production manager was finalizing the dates with the crew, organizing the locations etc. To make the story more authentic, the Mike Leigh method of character improvisation was applied. I was introduced to this particular technique at the Australian Film, Television and Radio school (AFTRS) in Sydney by writer and director, Robert Merchand. This process allowed the actors to be more involved in the project.
The filming was to commence on the 1st of January 2006. But on the 26th of December 2005, the Indian subcontinent was hit by a devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami, leaving us all in absolute shock. But to our surprise, the crew was determined to go ahead according to our schedule. Therefore, in a chilli winter New Years day early morning, my cast member Salim Bhai alias Ramji not only had to shave his very dear moustache, but had to pour buckets of ice cold water straight from a street tubewell onto his bare body, all in the name of Film, and we continued this for take after take. Not a word of complaint was heard. The actors, I must mention here, were not only enthusiastic but extremely professional in their attitude and approach. The 64 minute long film "Hori alone in Kolkata" was shot in 12 different locations, and principal Multicultural Women's Advocacy Newsletter Page 7 of 8 shooting was completed in four days time.
The outdoor shoots were extremely difficult as hundreds of people often crowded to watch the shooting, and there were individuals who at times got carried away and even called out "ACTION", startling the entire cast and crew. The moving of heavy tracks, lights and camera equipment were limiting us in many ways. Had we a smaller crew we could have experimented more and used more camera angles in the film. The first cut of the film was done in Kolkata, and the final cut of the film was made in Canberra.
The purpose of this film was to capture the plight of this lonely little boy, and tell his story. This film was not intended to merely entertain the audience, therefore surely it will disappoint many. But from a filmmaker's perspective, this experience had been a wonderful learning experience for all of us involved. Through this project we met many people, made many new friends, learnt new skills, new strategies, but most importantly we were deeply inspired by the people of Kolkata who live in such difficult conditions, yet are still so enthusiastic and passionate about any creative work and art.
The film "Hori alone in Kolkata" was shown in Canberra early this year, was shown in Cairns in October, and will be shown in India in December this year. You can read more about audience feedback and future screenings by visiting our website on

CONTRIBUTOR: Paramita Roy, a local filmmaker. She has graduated with a bachelor
and master degree from Queensland University of Technology and attended Master classes at the Australian film, Television and Radio school (AFTRS) in Sydney. Paramita
has written and directed several short films, and presently working on her first feature film.