Born Into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids [2004]

MV5BMTk5MDM3MzE4MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTgwNzcyMQ@@._V1._SX640_SY948_But I don’t care. After all, she is my mother

Director : Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman

Writer : Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman

Story :  This is a first to me since I haven’t written about a documentary yet (to be honest I haven’t seen a lot either). But this one is pretty easy. As the title says it the movie is about a bunch of kids growing up in  Sonagchi, Calcutta which is the red light district of the city. Yes, all of them are children of prostitutes living in a poor, hopeless conditions. In this life comes Auntie Zana (one of the directors) and hands a camera to every child and teaches them how to use it, and thus the children provide the real face of the red light district through their eyes. As the movie progresses Auntie Zana tries her best to offer life-changing opportunities to the children through their art ( exhibitions, special schools, even publishes a book with their photos). And basically that’s about it.

What I Liked :

– it didn’t try to be something else, it all felt real and quite honest simple and I think that’s how it managed to capture the audience; plus the kids were amazing you could see how they gave everything, they opened up in front of the camera and talked with such raw honesty and maturity about themselves and their lives that your heart just cracks a bit.

– these kids really were talented, through the movie every kid gets a few minutes where they talk and a couple of their photographs are shown and you get a sense of familiarity, you start to feel for them like they are some pen pals you exchanged a few letters back in the 90’s.

-it’s not  happy end documentary, but still managed to show that hope and chances still exist even in the worst places

– amazing music

What I Didn’t Like :

rarely do I say that a movie could have been longer, but this is the case here, I would have loved to know more about the kids, to see more of them and a follow-up documentary would be great. Although here is an Imdb forum where you can find various links and info about the kids, and I have to mention there is a 36 minute long video on the dvd, but as I said I’d love to see a follow-up documentary. (fingers crossed)

– still on the length of the documentary, there are several parts where you don’t understand exactly what is happening, moments that are too rushed especially towards the end

– they didn’t manage to keep it 100% clear e.g. the difficulties Zana Brsiki goes through to get a passport for one of the kids, a tragic event in the red district and so on, just little glimpses that, of course, are part of the life shown to us, but since the documentary is so rushed towards the end I couldn’t help but feel cheated by those precious moments that could have been used to develop the ‘storyline’ a bit better

Final Note :

3.5 out of 4

Interesting Facts :

– took home an Oscar in 2005 for Best Documentary

– and of course don’t forget to visit their official site of this project Kids with Cameras

Trailer :


2 thoughts on “Born Into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids [2004]

  1. I was searching for ‘photography documentaries’ and came across this one. Saw it last week and I actually like it. Nonetheless, well written 🙂

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