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The Power Of Films To Bring Social Change


Entertainment, perception, emotions and outlook are some of the terms that can be associated with media. The amplifying power of media and its influence on society is undeniable; especially, Visual media combined with the easy access to Social Media has unleashed the power of imagery. Leveraging Visual media, particularly videos, to highlight a social issue can reap far-reaching benefits in a short span of time given its wide acceptance amongst today’s youth. It is not uncommon to find heartwarming stories of resilience, courage and determination from the nooks and corners of India.

Leena Kejriwal’s fight against Human Trafficking

Leena Kejriwal, a Kolkata based photographer, would often volunteer at Hamari Muskaan, a Non-Profit organisation which works with the children of sex workers to prevent the next generation from entering the industry. It was then that Leena met Jaya, a former sex worker who was sold to a brothel at Sonagachi in Kolkata under the pretence of giving her work.

Her short film led to Leena’s extensive and widely-recognised public art campaign against human trafficking, MISSING. The artwork consists of larger-than-life silhouettes of young girls placed against the urban skyline representing the millions who ‘disappear’ from their homes into the shadowy world of trafficking. The campaign also inspired a game app, MISSING, which features Champa, a character fighting against traps of prostitution and trafficking. The film won the NASSCOM Indie Game of the Year Award and has over half a million organic downloads in 70+ countries. Leena was able to crowd fund INR 16 lakh for Hamari Muskaan with more financial aid came pouring in from around the world.

Ravi Iyer’s support to ‘Probably Paradise’

Ravi Iyer, a filmmaker, made a film on ‘Probably Paradise’ – a shelter for terminally ill animals run by the inspirational Roxanne, now in her mid-60s, who looks after abandoned and geriatric animals, making their last days dignified. The shelter rests on a 1.5 acre plot in Karjat. While volunteers and supporters of the shelter visit often, maintaining the shelter is not an easy task with increasing number of animals every day.

The time spent with Roxanne has turned Ravi and his team into active supporters of the shelter. They used their film to raise funds and have set up a solar electricity system there. Ravi’s hear film enabled Roxanne to reach out to more volunteers and donors for Probably Paradise.

Ravi, continues to make short films for Roxanne as well as other Non-Profits. “It’s definitely had an impact on us. Not only has this experience made us realise the power of films to bring out such stories, but also there lies a huge potential to sensitise people, garner their support and further these causes. Ever since we’ve made the film, there are a lot more Non-Profits who have approached us. People have become more aware of animal rights, animal care.” adds Ravi.

Meghathithi Kabeer’s campaign to clean river Yamuna

New Delhi-based filmmaker and environmentalist, Meghatithi Kabeer made a film on the extraordinary work of Sanjay Kumar and his team of Gotakhors (divers). The divers selflessly work to clean the river Yamuna, recently declared dead by the United Nations. Meghatithi’s film has not only created awareness but has also given the Yamuna gotakhors nationwide recognition and support from the government and corporates.

Apart from screening the award-winning film in several international film festivals, Meghathithi has recently launched the ‘I am Yamuna’ campaign to amplify on-ground efforts for the river. He has also set up a tea stall around the river to create employment for divers (gotakhors). Today, Meghatithi continues to mobilise people for the Gotakhor’s cause and work towards conserving environment.

PreranaPrerana Langa is the CEO of Yes Foundation, social development arm of Yes Bank. She developed YES! i am the CHANGE, a mindset transformation project, innovatively using the medium of films to ignite the spirit of driving positive social change amongst the youth enabling them to become agents of social change.

Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.

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The CSR Journal Team