Documentary filmmaker Shila Dutta  Courtesy : Shila Dutta

Documentary filmmaker Shila Dutta
Courtesy : Shila Dutta

Documentary filmmaker Shila Dutta screened two of her documentaries for the students this Monday at the Sarojini Naidu School of Arts and Communication during her visit to the city.
The two films of about 25 minutes each were on the Cellular Jail: National Memorial and Human Trafficking.
Cellular Jail: National Memorial was produced for the occasion of the centennial celebrations of the Cellular Jail. The film maker was in Andaman to make a documentary on the tsunami when she was requested to make a film on the jail. While visiting the Cellular Jail, she noticed that about 85% of the freedom fighters imprisoned were Bengali.

The documentary recounted the history of the jail along with the life and struggle of the people imprisoned there during the Indian freedom movement.
She had the opportunity to interview eight freedom fighters who had been imprisoned. Sadly, few of them passed away shortly after the interview. Dutta strongly felt that they ought to have been interviewed sooner in order to record these important events of our history.
Human Trafficking, the second documentary, was about girls from Bengal being trafficked as sex workers, house maids and brides. Rampant illiteracy is one of the many reasons behind trafficking, a terrible crime against humanity. Few of the rescued narrated how the victims would be lured to ‘construction sites’ or other places of work that would promise to pay twice the normal rate. The filmmaker described the profession as a risky one, having followed the CID and police during sting operations while ending up with few enemies of her own during the making of this documentary. To produce this film, she had to travel to many places both day and night; the no man’s land between India and Bangladesh and the red light areas in Pune and Calcutta.

Cellular Jail, Port Blair

Cellular Jail, Port Blair

Dutta concluded by stating that films are a very strong media form that allows one to express thoughts, feelings and emotions on society or on any subject. Her documentaries were free of any enactments and in addition, all historical data, photos and videos were authentic, sourced from the National Library.

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