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3 Things About ‘I Am Kalam’ That Totally Swept Me Off My Feet

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By Deepak Venkateswaran:

Kind of late to write a review yet I couldn’t hold back myself writing about this, as I feel this is another movie which hasn’t got the recognition and fame it deserves. And I had to do my bit to change this. I honestly have no words on the impact the movie has left on me. I can only hope I do justice to the review. Released in August 2011, and I saw it in April 2012, I am Kalam totally swept me off my feet. A movie which I must say triggered me to think again and again about what I can do with my life. A very touching and sensible eye-opener by Nila Madhab Panda.

iamkalam3

This movie deals with the life of Chhotu (Harsh Mayar), a poor boy with an extraordinary brain, and a deep burning desire to learn and to be able to wear a tie when he grows up. Chhotu’s family’s financial conditions force his mother (Meena Mir) to pawn him off to work in a roadside dhaba (food joint) , under Bhati ( Gulshan Grover) the kind owner of the dhaba. It is here that Chhotu first sees Dr. Kalam on TV and gets inspired by him and dreams of wearing a tie like him. Meanwhile Chhotu re-brands himself as Kalam, to whoever asks his name and very soon becomes the pulse of the little joint. With an inquisitive nature to learn from foreigners who visit the dhaba, and entertain them, he wins the hearts of many. His biggest treasures are a couple of books that he keeps locked in his box. He spends all his free time on them.

iamkalam1

The turning point to Kalam’s life comes when he meets and befriends Kunwar Ranvijay (Hussan Saad) from the erstwhile royal family, who run a heritage hotel there. Slowly the friendship between them grows, as the former shares the latter’s loneliness, and both help each other, unaware of the status-quo which forbids the prince from befriending people from lower castes (as per his father’s customs). Eventually things take a very serious turn, as their friendship is caught, when Kalam is falsely accused of stealing from the palace, and in a fit of rage he runs off to Delhi with a truck driver where he tries to meet the president.

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The whole movie is shot in the inner parts of Rajasthan (except for the climax), near the desert beautifully covering the colours and flavours of the state. The visuals of Mohana Krishna have done their job flawlessly, keeping the rich heritage of the locations as they are. The songs of the film, though very few are beautifully done with the lyrics of Shivji Doli and Kishan Thukral being melodiously complemented by the notes of Susmit Jose. The dialogues are fabulously well written with the perfect timing, in the very much local dialect of Hindi, the one with the Rajasthani slang. A big applause to Sanjay Chauhan for the wonderfully written script.

#1. The biggest and most inspiring part of the film I felt is the originality in it, as the character of Chhotu by Harsh Mayar, who is actually a boy from the slums of Delhi. The closeness to the character was something I admire the actors for. The whole point of the movie that it taught me was, that you alone are the one who could shape your destiny. If you have a burning desire like Chhotu to come up in life, then even God cannot hold you back for a long time. You write your own destiny. Where there is passion to rise, eventually the obstacles have to make way for you.

#2. Our society teaches us that you cannot change your destiny or fate as some people call it. But the truth is that it’s nothing about fate or destiny, but all about your “Karma”. Your actions determine you and define your destiny.

#3. There is not just one, but millions of Chhotu’s who are losing their childhood, and innocence in the hard strokes life is giving them. This movie is a tribute to them, but it is useless unless there is a move towards changing the situation.

A conceptually brilliant, socially awakening, emotionally touching, and seriously worth-watching movie.

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  1. Shivangi Singh

    One of the best reviews ever that i have read .

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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