Image courtesy: Poster by Babu Eshwar Prasad

Remembering Chalam
With the screening of
Kutty Japanin Kuzhandaigal  (Children of Mini Japan)

On Monday, 29 May, 2017 | 6 pm
at Vadehra Art Gallery, D 53, Defence Colony, New Delhi 110024
Please join us for the screening of Kutty Japanin Kuzhandaigal, Children of Mini Japan, organized in memory of its acclaimed documentary filmmaker Chalam Bennurakar. 

Chalam Bennurakar
was a pioneer of documentary filmmaking in Karnataka and also an activist of great repute and integrity. With Kutty Japanin Kuzhandaigal (Children of Mini Japan), a 1991 film on child labour in Sivakasi, he received much national and international attention. He won many prestigious awards including the Yamagata International Film Festival Award, Japan (1991), Leipzig International Documentary Film Festival, Germany (1991), Nyon Documentary Festival in France (1991) and the Mumbai International Documentary Festival (1992). 

We invite you to join us for this screening to remember and pay tributes to the life and work of Chalam!

About the film:
Kutty Japanin Kuzhandaigal (Children of Mini Japan) 
is a 60-minute Tamil film set in Sivakasi, a small town in Southern Tamil Nadu. It is from here and the surrounding villages that 70% of the requirements of the match box industry and 90% of the fireworks industry are produced. The owners of the match box and fireworks factories proudly refer to their town as “Mini Japan”, a self-employed town. This town also prints millions of garish calendars and election posters which are used all over India.

Sivakasi has another dubious distinction. It is the single largest concentration of child labour in the world. Nearly 10,000 children, mostly girl children, are employed in Sivakasi to meet the demands of production. It is these children aged between 4 and 16 who are the protagonists of the film. The film is an attempt to portray their everyday lives, the production process and the complex socio-political reasons that contribute to such a large employment of children in this area.

Without taking recourse to voiceover commentary, the film tries to weave together various episodes by interspersing Villupadal, a traditional performance which celebrates the childhood of Krishna. It is the Villupadalwhich forms the edifice of the film’s critique of post independent India’sTryst with Destiny  - a nightmare called progress through rapid industrialization.

About the filmmaker:
Chalam Bennurakar
 was a college dropout and worked as a signboard painter for sometime before he became part of CIEDS Collective and Vimochana in Bangalore. As part of CIEDS Collective, he had initiated Janamadhyam, a screening network and production infrastructure for grass root action which he continued informally even after he left the Collective through Touring Talkies. He contributed to the film society movement in Bangalore through the Bangalore Film Society and Odessa in Kerala by creating a space for young filmmakers to showcase their works. He conceived of Sakshi in 1998, a first-of-its-kind initiative showcase documentaries from all over the world and to create a platform for Independent Documentary Film Makers in India.

Chalam was well known for his literary writings in different genres – short stories, essays, poems, translations which have been published in journals and magazines.

His documentary All About My Famila made him the voice of the transgender community. His other films include Kunde Habba, a unique festival of the tribal people in Kodagu, Naavu Yeravaru , on the Yerava community and a documentary on the earthquake disaster that struck Latur, Maharashtra in 1993. He also co-produced and worked on Bishaar Blues, on the fakirs of Calcutta, with  Amitabh Chakraborthy.  His films in progress include one on the Dongri Garsias and another on Burns Survivors for Vimochana, a forum for women’s rights.

He passed away at the age of 62 in early May 2017.