Alone in Kolkata
(Brindabella) (5.23): Mr Speaker, last week I was fortunate
enough to be able to represent the Chief Minister, in his
capacity as minister for the arts, at the premiere-and I
have to say it is the first time that I have been to a film
premiere-of the film Hori Alone in Kolkata, which was screened
at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre from 23 to 26 March. Hori
Alone in Kolkata was the debut feature film of Canberra
director, Ms Paramita Roy. The film, which runs for approximately
an hour, tells the story of Mohammed, an 11-year-old Muslim
boy, who travels from his village to Kolkata to find a job
so that he can support his sisters and mother back home.
It is hard for him being alone in a large, predominately
Hindu city, as he works as a domestic in one household after
another. The film covers many areas. The young boy meets
up with his older brother who makes him change his name
because it would not do to be in a Hindu city with a Muslim
Mr Speaker, this is a very touching film and I recommend
that members make the time to view it if it is screened
again. The work, which was completely financed by Ms Roy,
reflects her dedication and desire to make her film as authentic
as possible. In January 2005, as part of a team of five
from Canberra, Sydney and Darwin, she travelled over to
India with her son Rubik, who acted as first assistant director
and helped with the script. ANU film student Ken Ochiai
joined the team as a second camera operator. Most of the
additional crew was hired in India and filming took place
over five days. I believe that Ms Roy worked on a rough
cut of the film in India and Ben Nunney, who works at the
ABC in Canberra, completed the editing. The film demonstrates
what someone can do if they have the desire and the know-how.
I was very impressed with the quality of its actors and
I was delighted to have the opportunity to personally meet
Ms Roy at the premiere of the film last Thursday. After
the film, Ms Roy answered questions from the audience about
the film. She said that the reason she wanted to make the
film was to highlight the hidden issue of child slavery.
Working in a school, she sees that we often as a western
society take many things for granted, such as going to school,
shelter and family. She wanted to highlight the differences
in respect of the issue of child poverty in a place the
size of India. The film has not been produced just for Australian
society but is being distributed in India, and there is
a hidden issue within India itself. A person commented at
the end of the film that they felt she had particularly
well highlighted in a very sympathetic and empathetic way
the issue of poverty as being the root cause of child slavery.
I have to say that it is a beautifully produced film. Although
you can tell that it is not a high-level production film,
it is just wonderfully done.
Ms Roy, who teaches at Calwell high school, has also developed
a multimedia educational resource on CD about Indian classical
music and a brief history of the cultural heritage of India.
The package is available as a teaching and learning resource
for Australian schools and gives students the opportunity
to learn about the arts and cultures of another country.
It is a credit to the ACT film industry that members of
the ACT community are becoming involved in cultural film
projects and that the resulting films are released in both
the ACT and the rest of Australia. It is also encouraging
to see cross-cultural relationships like this one being
Finally, I would like to give my congratulations again to
Ms Paramita Roy as writer, director and co-producer of Hori
Alone in Kolkata, and all the cast and crew involved with
the film. I hope that it ends up being screened again because
it does highlight what is a very shocking, disturbing issue.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Assembly adjourned at 5.28 pm.