Published: 24th March 2021
This film shows a young girl from the streets making it big in the global football arena. Check it out!
Made in Madras, made by three filmmakers, tracks Sangeetha's journey from the streets of Chennai to the world cup in Russia
In 2018, Sangeetha Sekar represented India on a global level. The 18-year-old was part of the Indian team at the Street Child World Cup in Russia, an event that takes place prior to the FIFA World Cup every four years. A product of the streets of Chennai, Sangeetha has never known what it means to call a place within four walls 'home'. But that didn't deter her from her desire to play football. It is her determination and dedication to the sport and her journey from the streets to the global stage that is highlighted in the documentary short film Made in Madras. Created by Chennai's Shikha Kumari (32), alongside Mumbai's Mohit Arora (24) and Coonoor's Aishwarya Ashok (24), the little-over-seven-minutes-
It was shortly after she returned from Russia when Shikha first heard of Sangeetha. She contacted her right after and has been in touch with Sangeetha and her family ever since. "It took a while for us to convince the family to make a film on Sangeetha. But they came on board when they realised that the film might be able to help Sangeetha get what she needs to play football," says Shikha. "The idea behind the film was to show how a girl who doesn't have a house but could play for her country on two occasions," adds Shikha. Yes, Sangeetha not only represented India in Russia but she also was part of the Homeless World Cup that was held in Scotland in 2016.
Sangeetha (Pic: Shikha Kumari)
But the film isn't merely about her achievements. It also deals with how she began playing the sport and the challenges she faced, including her family's ire over her playing football. "Sangeetha continues to face challenges like lack of training equipment, proper nutrition and rest," says Shikha, "Living on the streets also exposes her to issues like sexual harassment and accidents. Two of her relatives died in accidents while they were sleeping on the street," she adds. In the film too, Sangeetha talks about how difficult life can be for a female street dweller. "Usually, North Chennai isn't associated with a lot of success stories. But here was a girl from that area who was successful. This was another reason why we decided to make the film," explains Shikha.
Shot over a period of around six months, which includes pre-production, production and post-production, the film was released right before the lockdown was announced last year. To shoot the film, the three filmmakers used their own equipment and whatever they didn't have was rented. The film was screened at various festivals, including the Chicago Reels Fest. "We shot a lot more than what made it to the final cut. We had to narrate Sangeetha's story in under ten minutes as we wanted it to be crisp," Shikha says. The crew decided to shoot the film in a way that encompasses Sangeetha's daily life, her at the field playing football and then, her speaking to the camera.
Pic: Shikha Kumari
Shikha says that they also spent a lot of time deciding the music. "Usually, the music isn't a primary focus in documentaries. But we decided that the music must be something very relevant and ended up deciding on something characteristically Indian," says Shikha. The entire crew consisted of Shikha, Aishwarya and Mohit, who were the only ones involved from the pre-production to release. "Since the family wasn't very forthcoming with the filming rights, only the three of us were allowed to shoot with Sangeetha," recalls Shikha. Made in Madras is now up on YouTube, under the VideoVolunteers channel. The film was funded by the American Embassy under the ChangeChitra project, where filmmakers were trained through workshops before filming. It was here that the trio met for the first time.