Bang Bang Galore!
A Filmmaker’s BLOGELLA
Written by Steve Rosenberg
Blog 6 (Teaching)
I’ve been traveling the globe for more than twenty-five years and I am happy to report that this is shaping up to be my most memorable trip yet
I’ve never experienced so many poignant moments in so few days. One by one, I am starting to fall in love with the students here. I have a sense that perhaps I may be entering the Mother Teresa phase of my life. That doesn’t mean I’m about to stop complaining about the heat, the humidity, the pollution, the absence of public garbage cans and the smelly Indian style toilets. I am still and will always be a bitch at heart.
Last year, I remember meeting a group of kids from the slums of Bangalore; young filthy, hyperactive kids. Grinning from ear to ear, they were all trying to showcase their limited English skills by asking me the same three familiar questions. “Where are you from? What is your name? From which country are you?” Then of course comes the dreaded handshake. I want to pull my hands away because I do not want or need new germs in my body; however, I am after all, a compassionate filmmaker. At least that is how I try to present myself. The sissy in me quickly shakes the tips of their fingers and then I head directly to the sink to wash my hands.
Today is my day to teach the kids the basics of filmmaking. My official translator Mio is a lovely thirty- year- old free-spirited woman originally from Hiroshima Japan. I assume she is fluent in Kanada, the local language here, but to my ears, she still sounds like she is speaking Japanese. She is so slight that I fear she will break when I see the kids climbing on her in the schoolyard. They maul her with bear hugs and mock headlocks as if she were one of them. But she is not. She is their surrogate mom and although I can’t make out what the kids are saying most of the time, I hear them quoting Mio’s words much of the day.
Besides being a warm and generous woman, Mio is an absolute knock- out with her high cheekbones, hooded eyes and bright smile. It is rare to see such a radiant beauty unwilling to take stock in her physical appearance. There is not a single mirror in her apartment, save the tiny postcard sized mirror over her sink.
Mioi Nakayama arrived in Bangalore five years ago and decided to devote her life to helping orphans. Mio, as she is known to everyone here, co-ordinates most of the school activities and also teaches photography. She freely admits to having no formal training in this field, yet she has great instincts on where to place her camera and how to compose. Mio credits John Deveraj for inspiring her to pursue photography.
Today, when I arrived at the school with my camera and tripod, the kids were excited to handle the equipment. My small group consisted of eight kids who had never touched a camcorder. The ADD in me is well suited for this environment. I quickly ploughed through the mechanics of camera operation and moved on to stage TV interviews on hot topics in the Indian press. The latest ongoing saga of the murder of a Pakistani cricket coach is all the rage in the media and the kids had a blast performing all the functions of a TV talk show.
Two teenaged boys Anthony and Jayram who both speak English without prepositions cling to my side during camera class. They help me with set ups and are always eager to carry my camera gear. I am often overwhelmed with my camera baggage, so it’s nice to have a little extra muscle. That’s the perk of working with former child labourers: they really are great workers. At least today, they were working on something they enjoyed.