WRITING WITH FIRE
(director/writer: Rintu Thomas, Sushmit Ghosh; cinematographers: Sushmit Ghosh/Karan Thapliyal; editors: Rintu Thomas/Sushmit Ghosh/Anne Fabini; music: Tajdar Junaid/ Ishaan Chhabra; cast: Meera Devi, Shyamkali Devi, Suneeta Prajanati; Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producers; Rintu Thomas, Sushmit Ghosh: Music Box Films/Black Ticket Films; 2021-India-in Hindu with English subtitles)
“This is a feel-good story about a democratic country still dealing with the effects of its dreadful caste-system.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Rintu Thomas, Sushmit Ghosh are first-time feature-length filmmakers from India. Their hard-hitting and engaging documentary is an expose on some troubling truths that are stains on their country. But in the end despite all the bad news, the film still manages to convey there’s hope for the future in India because it has women like these in the film who are brave and smart.
Khabar Lahariya is the only Indian newspaper that is run entirely by women and no less from the Dalit (“untouchable”) caste. They are located in Uttar Pradesh, an Indian province known for its crimes against women. The observant documentary covers both personal and political issues. Items such as when a village can’t connect to an electrical grid or if farms don’t have irrigation or about the campaign in the 2019 general election. The better informed public can then turn to the government for answers that might be required.
We get to know the reporters lives by visiting them in their homes and following them at work. The one in charge is Meera Devi. She’s a veteran, tough journalist, who married at 14 and earned three degrees while raising her children; Suneeta is a feisty journalist who suffers that she cannot get married because her parents can’t afford the dowries charged by men who would allow her to work; Cub reporter Shyamkal doesn’t have the education but is a quick learner, who is very good at the job.
Against all odds this form of grassroots journalism hopes to prevail through the commitment made by the newspaper staff and their solidarity, even if the women are not skilled in modern technology, lack the basic equipment needed at work and work without the usual educational requirements for journalist, they provide a much needed service for their country.
This is a feel-good story about a democratic country still dealing with the effects of its dreadful caste-system. The viewer can’t help but be impressed by the energy shown by the inspired, sincere reporters.
REVIEWED ON 11/28/2021 GRADE: B