In Calcutta, a rickshaw puller earns less than a dollar a day. With no money to pay for school fees, many children grow up illiterate. Currently in India there are more than 5 million children not in school.
Project Rhino was created to provide education in parts of Calcutta where children would not be able to afford school. By setting up a network of schools throughout Calcutta, children are learning how to read and write, and are given an opportunity to realize their full potential.
Arjun is the son of a rickshaw puller in Calcutta. He played and helped with chores around the house until a Project Rhino school opened up in his neighborhood.
Behind the Scenes
We were approached by Calcutta Mercy Hospital to make two short videos for Project Rhino to raise funds for more schools. We arrived in Calcutta with two Canon 5D packages, Zacuto rods, a Tascam recorder and a Kesslercrane Cineslider. Calcutta Mercy Hospital had little direction for us, except that the pieces be short. We wanted the story arcs to be strong, and also wanted to focus on the positives from the program and the hope that Project Rhino has generated.
After a day of scouting we decided to split up, with one crew focusing on an urban location, and one focusing on the rural village where Project Rhino started. For each location we first needed to identify the characters. At the Baghajotin school we met Arjun. With a lot of spunk and a convincing grin, we noticed that anytime the teacher stopped talking he was wrestling with his friends. Perfect.
Our challenge was to show that children's dreams are the same everywhere and how Project Rhino is helping Arjun to reach his full potential. Wherever the story went, there were several generic shots we needed to get out of the way. Arjun in class, Arjun in the neighborhood, and beyond that we hoped to interview his family.
Arjun's father pedals a rickshaw for a living and earns less than $1 a day. We asked if we could interview him, but wanted to be respectful. His time was precious, and the more time he spent talking with us the less time he had to earn money. He promised to meet us in the afternoon for a quick interview, so we kept our fingers crossed.
After filming Arjun we interviewed his sister and the afternoon was slipping away. We packed up and started walking Arjun back to his house to say goodbye. Just as we turned the corner we spotted his father on the rickshaw pedaling toward us. Apologizing for being late, Arjun's father explained that he had some long rides that morning and was running behind. Quickly we staged his interview in the alleyway in front of their home.
Arjun's father gave an extremely heartfelt interview. It was clear that he wants his boy to receive an education- an opportunity no one else in the family has had. He wants his son to dream big and work hard. Arjun wants to be a doctor, and his father couldn't be more proud.