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Sundance 2021: “Writing with Fire”


© Black Ticket Films

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Not every story can move us one way or another. Not because we are senseless, heartless or indifferent towards others but because we think no problem is bigger than our own. Then why, one may ask, should I even bother knowing what happens in the rest of the world when my own is in scrambles? The truth is, we lack education, are misinformed or just not interested in knowing more. Because no matter how bad we think our life is, trust me, there’s always worse. There are people who will prove each and every one of us how wrong we are, showing and guiding us through the only way they can – struggle, battle and long term victory that can provide the change necessary for society to improve.

“Writing with Fire”, from writer/director Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh follows some exceptionally brave women, led by Chief reporter, Meera, and her remarkably stoic team of journalists as they try to uncover corruption, crimes against women as well as investigating cases of caste prejudice, police corruption, environmental injustices and much more. Women of the Dalit caste break tradition to become the first to run a newspaper run by women only. As they fight, they put their own lives in danger, pursuing justice for those who are left forgotten, discriminated and punished based on their caste.

Set in the heart of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, the documentary, through the lens of its heroic women, uncovers unprecedented level of corruption, reveals the cases of women who are being repeatedly raped by men and how police bluntly shut their eyes to let perpetrators continue such horrendous crime to occur on a daily basis. Newspaper Khabar Lahariya breaks one barrier after another as it delivers life-changing news, forcing the local government to enforce strict rules, repair roads, or capture rapists.

The beauty of this film is its women who work tirelessly to serve their community, fight for democracy and help those in need. It’s absolutely mind-blowing, surreal, and an absolutely necessary film that will make you forget about every struggle the privileged world has (as it assumes), having forced everyone to witness the true color of pain printed on the eyes of those who appear in the documentary, and those whose stories are yet to be told.

This documentary will make you leave your comfort zone, get educated, learn more, and appreciate what we all have because if we don’t have to fear for our lives just to speak the truth, and be at no risk of getting killed on our way to the police station, can we really complain or express displeasure in our own situation, whereas Dalit (low caste) people can’t even afford to look up at someone without the fear of getting hit? I thought so.

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