It’s chaos when we enter Nai Disha, an open school in Kishangarh. As principal Sangeeta Malik would like to call it – a fish market. Scores of kids sit in a classroom talking among themselves, as a teacher tries to write something on the board, keep an eye out for the chatterboxes and checks their homework – all at the same time. However, it is from one of these ‘fish markets’ that a film has been produced, which is being showcased at the British Pavillion of the 2018 Cannes Films Festival.
Titled Delhi Dreams – the film is a collaboration between the kids of Nai Disha, the school’s NGO-partner Smile Foundation and UK-based charity, Film Without Borders (FWB). 14 kids were trained by FWB’s Jill Samuel and Richard Blanshard, in activities ranging from handling the camera, holding the boom mic to elementary lessons on editing their own film. It follows the lives of five school children, their daily routines and focuses on their dreams ranging from becoming a makeup artist to a boxer to even a rugby player.
Delhi Dreams is another notable initiative by Smile Foundation to bridge the gap between classes through with filmmaking. The NGO was earlier associated with Nila Madhab Panda’s I Am Kalam, that followed the journey of a young boy working a streetside tea stall, who harbours dreams of meeting and emulating the successes of India’s most loved President – Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.
Nai Disha was opened all the way back in 2000 and registered as an NGO for more than decade – and all for the efforts spearheaded by Sangeeta Malik. And it’s fitting that her relentless efforts have resulted in bringing the (mainly) immigrant’s kids from the streets to this path of learning to a film being screened at the most prestigious film festival in the world.