Indian Women Rising and Educate Girls USA to raise funds to educate cast of the film Bittu

The collaboration also received the support of Global icon Priyanka Chopra Jonas who gave a shout-out to the fundraiser event, standing in solidarity with the right to education for the young girls

Indian Women Rising, a cinema collective founded by Ekta Kapoor, Guneet Monga, Tahira Kashyap Khurrana, and Ruchikaa Kapoor Sheikh is collaborating with 'Educate Girls USA', an NGO founded by Safeena Husain to raise funds for the two young leads Rani and Renu Kumari from the Oscar-contending short film 'Bittu'. The collaboration also received the support of Global icon Priyanka Chopra Jonas who gave a shout-out to the fundraiser event, standing in solidarity with the right to education for the young girls.

Priyanka said, "Bittu is moving, raw and real. It takes a devasting incident and presents it from a unique perspective. As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to help give it the attention it deserves. It's a great example of how women supporting women can make anything possible and the Indian Women Rising Collective is proof of that and I can't wait to see what they do next."

She added, "Cinema the world over needs more women to bring their voices, stories, and perspectives to the fore and this is one step in that direction. This fundraiser will help these 2 amazing young girls, Rani and Renu Kumari continue their education and pursue all the dreams and ambitions they have for themselves and I hope that many will come forward to help make this a reality." The fundraiser is scheduled for today and will be moderated by digital sensation and content creator Prajakta Koli, who was seen in the recently-released Netflix show 'Mismatched'.

Commenting on it, Prajakta said, "It is my absolute pleasure that I get to be associated with a beautiful piece of art like Bittu at whatever capacity. I have so much love for Guneet, Tahira, and Ekta for always telling stories that touch your heart in ways unknown. Also, getting shortlisted for the academy is a tremendous feat and I am so proud of how content is evolving in our country."

While the fundraiser will prominently emphasise the importance of girls' education, it also aims to raise awareness about its related advantages on the overall development of the girl child, including confidence, health, and hygiene, her agency to decision making and empowerment. Directed by Karishma Dev Dube, 'Bittu' is based on a true story and tells the tale of a close friendship between two girls, eclipsed by an accidental poisoning at school. From casting real children amongst the valleys of the Himalayas to shooting against the backdrop of the mountains, the film offers a visually aesthetic as well as an authentic experience to its viewers.

The film has garnered critical acclaim and recognition for its distinct cinematography and poignant storytelling. The movie's strength also lies in its unconventional casting. The central characters of Bittu and Chand are played by first-time performers, who were cast from the local community in Uttarakhand where the film was shot.

Elaborating more on this Karishma, said, "This film exists because of the unforgettable performances of Rani Kumari and Renu Kumari. Without our two young leads, Bittu would never have the life span it currently does, representing India on global platforms such as the Academy and the Director's Guild Of America."

She added, "Regardless of their challenging circumstances, these little girls were consummate professionals, keeping up with the rigor of film production. When you watch this film, you will not be able to deny the fact that Rani and Renu deserve everything, or at the very least, a shot at life that provides opportunities that can help sharpen the irrefutable talent that already exists in them."

Speaking on the fundraiser event to support the education of the lead actors of the film, Karishma said, "Today, Rani and Renu like many other children, struggle to stay in class. They are coming from a migrant laborer community who are especially hard hit during the pandemic." She further said, "I am so grateful for Educate Girls and Indian Women Rising, who have come together to help us change the lives of these two incredible children and their families. If we can give them the life they deserve, then it would be the best thing we have achieved with this film."

Indian Women Rising in a joint statement shared, "Bittu is a special film and the two girls are its very soul. The performances of Rani and Renu in the film proved that each child is gifted and just needs an opportunity to flourish. We are thrilled to collaborate with Educate Girls USA and raise funds to secure the education and overall development of Rani and Renu. Education is the basic right of every child and it is our humble effort to bring a tangible change in the lives of these two talented girls."

Safeena Husain, Founder of Educate Girls USA, said, "Children need to get equal opportunities to access quality education. With this collaboration, we are trying to bring the vital importance of investing in girls' education to the forefront." Husain added, "It is the best investment the world can make as it positively impacts 9 sustainable development goals, including health, nutrition, employment, even climate change. This investment also helps break the intergenerational cycle of poverty, patriarchy, and illiteracy as an educated girl is more than twice as likely to educate her children."

The 93rd Academy Awards announced the shortlists in nine categories nearly a month back and 'Bittu' made it to the Live Action Short Film shortlist. Competing amongst 174 films from across the globe, 'Bittu' qualified for the top 10 after the first round of voting and will now be subjected to the votes of members of the short films and animation branch to determine the nominees.

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