Imagine a Government law preventing children from attending school? The Right to Education Act [RTE], in Karnataka, is doing just that. Chikka Putta is a non – fiction, observational documentary that focuses on the education and activities of young students and their teachers in a Dalit, village school called Sita School, which is now endangered by the RTE Act.Saumyananda Sahi, the Director of the film, along with the Editor and Gaffer, Tanushree Das and, the Sound designer, Manoj M. Goswami, attended the 8th Bengaluru International Film Festival, held at Orion Mall, on the 29th of January 2016, to discuss their documentary and interact with the audience.
Saumyananda Sahi, worrying he would never get to experience and, longing to experience his childhood school again, decided to return to it and capture the essence of Sita School, Silvepura, in Bangalore, a school his mother had set up and, one that he had studied under. He went there with a motley crew and, instead of interfering with the classes or being an alien presence, he and, his team integrated themselves into the schools’ curriculum. Saumyananda made a conscious decision not to interfere in the children’s personal life, so he chose to let the children tell the story themselves, be it through their actions, conversations, drawings, paintings or designs. He would only follow the children to where ever they were going and, film anything they would do or say. The documentary does not merely focus on the students’ learning, but also their perceptions of mature subjects like life and death.
Tanushree Das, the editor, had the tough job of cutting down 3 years worth of footage into a 68 minute film. But, her cardinal rule, that is, projecting to the audience what she herself enjoys, held her in good stead. Her sense of responsibility, guided by her ethics, told her that she is not looking at rushes or film clips but, at people’s lives at the editing table. Manoj M. Goswami, who worked on the sound, tuned the background score to match the children’s mood, skillfully jumping the music’s emotion from cheerful to foreboding. The director lays emphasis on the model of education at Sita School, which effectively intertwines Art and Education into its curriculum, a form of learning which is threatened and, looked down upon by the RTE Act. The school which, for 35 years now, has been educating young children in Silvepura, is being forced to conform itself to a strict curriculum. Soon, the school will only have to teach its students out of textbooks and blackboards. If not, it will have to shut down, leaving many of its students and teachers in the lurch.
N.T Giridharan is a First year student of B.Voc at St.Jospehs College, Bangalore. He is also a gaming addict with a passion towards painting too.