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Girl child issues highlighted in UNICEF / Prasar Bharati film awards

© UNICEF/India/Reddy/2005
DC interactive Team was awarded the First Prize for their 30 sec film-spot.

by Vikas Verma

Hyderabad, September 24, 2005
- Over 100 short films, ad-films and radio spots were received as entries in just   two weeks, in response to a unique event held in Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh, where UNICEF and Prasar Bharti (Broadcasting Corporation of India) joined hands to honour makers of alternative cinema. The award for “Films as Change Agents” was to be given on the occasion of The Girl Child Day. The award-winning creative minds had undertaken a special effort to create films and radio spots and jingles on the issues faced by the girl child in Andhra Pradesh.
"Projecting a positive image of girls in films will strengthen the girl child. Alternative cinema presents a hope for change and given the fact that technology has made small budget films feasible, it holds the promise of promoting social issues."

The fast declining sex ratio in the state (from 976 in 1991 to 961 in 2001), especially in its capital city Hyderabad (where it plunged from 963 to 942 during the 1991-2001 decade), is a major concern. Andhra Pradesh has the largest number of child labourers in the age group 5-14 years amongst all states in India. The state has the highest girl child labour population, most of them working as labourers in the embroidery, domestic and cotton seed sectors (1.66 million working children as per 1991 census).  Andhra Pradesh is also the major market for trafficking of girls in India.

While the winning ad-spot brought out the irony of a ‘man praying to a goddess to bless him with a son and not a daughter’, the winning short film “Kalam Marandi” highlighted the hope and defiance in the eyes of the young girl Sanku (played by the girl child artiste Ananya ), in the face of socially and culturally rigid, stereotypical older women. Ananya also won the ‘Special Girl Child Award’ and was on cloud nine when felicitated by the film actresses Amala and Shriya. In all, 13 films and radio spots were awarded, after having gone through special jury screenings and a rigorous selection process. Based on the audience poll conducted by Doordarshan Hyderabad via SMS, 2 films won the Popular Awards category.

Speaking on the occasion, the chief guest Amala Akkineni, Chairperson, Blue Cross, and a former film star, said “Projecting a positive image of girls in films will strengthen the girl child.” She also noted that alternative cinema presents a hope for change and given the fact that technology has made small budget films feasible, it holds the promise of promoting social issues.

© UNICEF/India/Reddy/2005
FIlm actors Shriya, Amala and Rajinder Prasad felicitating young artistes

Also present at the function was another leading actress, Shriya Saran, who said “I thank my parents for giving me a chance to become a capable person. Valuing girl child is valuing yourself and humanity." She further requested the parents of today not to deny their daughters their dreams and pointed out that given a chance Indian girls can outshine the best in the world.

In the keynote address, Michel Saint-Lot, UNICEF State Representative for Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, highlighted issues faced by the girl child ranging from female foeticide, girls’ education, child trafficking, early marriage and child labour. He said that “A great country like India, which is emerging as an economic power, must do away with discrimination against girls”. He wished that India could soon end commemorating this day and start taking action to once again bring back glory to its girls.

Pleasantly surprised with the response to the event, K.S.Sarma, CEO of Prasar Bharti, noted that the concept of awarding short films and radio spots on social issues could be extended at the national level too. He further opined that radio, given its immense reach, should not be ignored in the face of the more popular television.
Michel Saint-Lot, UNICEF State Representative for Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, highlighted issues faced by the girl child ranging from female foeticide, girls’ education, child trafficking, early marriage and child labour.

Among other eminent personalities were Rajindra Prasad, a noted Telugu film actor, Arvind Kumar, District Collector for Hyderabad, and Neelakanta, a film director. The event was well covered by local print and TV media the following day and was also telecast as a special 30-minute programme by Doordarshan Hyderabad.

The programme ended with the promise to not just limit the spirit of standing up for issues faced by the girl child at such events, but to translate it into firm action at the ground level.

 

 

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