New Asian Currents
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  • I Wonder . . .
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  • I Wonder . . .

    - INDIA / 2009 / Hindi, Tamil, English, Nepali / Color / Video / 70 min

    Director, Photography, Editing, Script: Anupama Srinivasan
    Sound: Anupama Srinivasan, Pushpa Rawat
    Sound Mixing: Asheesh Pandya
    Production Company: Public Service Broadcasting Trust
    Source: Anupama Srinivasan

    From the vast coastlines of Tamil Nadu, to the arid lands of Rajasthan and the lush greenery of Sikkim, the camera joins local children on the journeys of their daily lives: to and from school, in their classes and after-school play, and doing chores. The children are shy but face the camera directly to talk about their families, their teachers, and their own feelings. Their gazes imply straightforward doubts about the adult world, which the director captures, in taking a sincere look at the meaning of education.

    [Director’s Statement] Your film is not readymade. It makes itself as it goes along under your gaze. Images and sounds in a state of waiting and reserve. (Robert Bresson)

    Two moments, perhaps more special than others, when I experienced the film getting made under my gaze: It was late evening in Langang, Sikkim. We were sitting in Vinita’s house, and I sensed that she was eager to talk. I asked her, What do you like doing? And from that, a series of answers, questions, and comments followed till I heard her saying, I can’t learn quickly. It’s not the teacher’s fault. It must be my brain. I said hurriedly, But you are so intelligent. She replied with a strange assuredness that sent a chill down my spine, No. I am not intelligent. I realized then that we had succeeded—we, the adults, the teachers, the school, the system; we had convinced a hard working, sincere fourteen-year old girl that she was inadequate, stupid, and just not good enough.

    The second was in the courtyard outside Divya’s house in Vadakadu. We were strolling around under the blazing sun, not really in a mood to talk. Divya was languidly tugging the leaves of a coconut tree. I pointed the camera towards her hand and started shooting. A breeze blew through the leaves, rustling them. As I watched through the viewfinder, I saw her fingers beginning to move in rhythm, mirroring the movement of the leaves. It was hypnotic. Her fingers kept moving and I kept shooting. I don’t know what it meant, but I knew that it was going to be part of my film.

    - Anupama Srinivasan

    A freelance filmmaker based in Delhi, Srinivasan studied non-fiction filmmaking and still photography as a part of her undergraduate studies at Harvard University. She went on to complete the three-year course in film direction at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune in 2001. Her documentaries and short films have been screened at various film festivals. Her films include On my own (2002), A Life in Dance (2003), On my own again (2007), Music of the Mirs (2008), and a number of short films. Apart from making films, she enjoys conducting workshops with children, teaching mathematics, and learning Japanese.