Published: 28th October 2017
From surviving abuse to understanding the Blue Whale Challenge, this 'filmy' campaign shows the real struggle of children of the country
Karnataka-based Lebeda productions have started a campaign to fight against depression and mental illness in children, and its methodology seems to be filmy
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 10 to 20 percent children and adolescents experience mental disorders, and half of all mental illnesses begin by the age of 14 years. To address this issue, Lebeda Productions is starting a campaign. The team has created an 18-minute short film Piu Ka Pen with the objective to talk about anxiety and depression among children, and bridge the gap between them and their parents
The film is inspired by childhood experiences of the crew. Rakhi Bose, who has conceptualised the film, says that she was traumatized when her young cousin passed away at the age of 13. The entire family was in shock, she says. "We were very close in spite of the huge age gap. I could not believe that she was gone." The director, Devanand Mahakud, says there are many parents, like his, who don't know how to show affection to their children. "Though they love their child, the lack of display sometimes makes the child believe that the parents don't understand them," he says. Devanand shares that he thought he couldn't share his feelings with his parents when he lost an expensive pen, fearing they might get angry or shout at him. "I had a strong inclination towards this beautiful pen. I did not use it fearing that I would break or lose it or someone might just steal it. And one day, I found that the ink from the pen is leaking. It shattered me," he shares. He was 10 years old then.
She says that during their research, they noticed how children are engrossed in themselves and rely more on the virtual world. "While we were at the editing stage, we heard about the Blue Whale Challenge. That triggered us to build a campaign around childhood anxiety and depression," she adds.
The film is about a girl Piu, played by Poorna Choudhuri, and her attachment towards her pen. Rakhi says, "She sees the pen as her friend and confides in it. She gets out of her fears with its help, by drawing and writing. She learns how to open up to her parents." Showcasing the fears of the child in a subtle way while writing the script, rehearsing, shooting and doing post-production was a challenge, says Devanand. "It required an unusual sound design to portray the emotions, as I did not want to show it completely visually," he says.
As a part of the campaign, the film will be screened across schools and independent venues in Bengaluru, and there will be a child psychiatrist present to have a discussion with the children. Rakhi says, "While the screening in schools is free of cost, for independent screening, we have a ticket priced at `120. Twenty percent of this ticket price will be donated to Annapoorna Breakfast Programme."
The film is subtitled in English, Kannada and Hindi for better reach. "We will be screening the film in other parts of Karnataka after Bengaluru," says Rakhi.