By Samir Shukla
The documentary Writing with Fire looks at the intrepid reporters of Khabar Lahariya—India’s only all-female news media organization. These journalists, armed with their smartphones, work to expose corruption, racism, crime, assaults on women, nationalist politicians, and myriad other topics all while working to give a voice to the voiceless and fighting for press freedom. They fearlessly question local police forces and politicians. Khabar Lahariya is an independent, digital news media network based in Uttar Pradesh. Writing with Fire follows this group of women and showcases their work. The organization’s chief reporter, Meera, is one of the women unflinching and tireless in her reporting.
Khabar Lahariya once published a chain of local language newspapers and now enters its 20th year this year. They have shifted from print to the digital realm via their website (www.khabarlahariya.org), YouTube channel and social media presence.
Directed and produced by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh, it’s a beautifully filmed documentary.
The film has been nominated for an Academy Award for feature length documentary. The Oscars will be telecast on Sunday March 27, 2022. Whether it wins or not, it is worth watching.
You can stream Writing with Fire for free anytime through April 26, 2022, at www.video.pbs.org and on the PBS Video App. It will also be shown at RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem, NC from April 21-30, 2022 (www.Riverrunfilm.com).
By Samir Shukla
Riding in a car on a snow dusted highway, in mid-January, I gazed at the blue grey sky above, while the highway passed below. The distant hills were a mix of white and dirt brown, leafless trees mingled with a few patches of evergreens. It had snowed a day earlier, not a heavy snowfall, but one that splattered white dustings on the surroundings.
I dozed off while sitting in the back seat. The moving scenery on either side of the car lulled my heavy eyes into slumber. The past, present and future all swirled in my brain while the hum of the car engine and the passing drone of the road dropped me into an instant dream. It began as a blend of semi-sleep and thoughts squirming around in my head, then a story unfolded, compressed into a short sleep. The car became a moving music venue accompanying the hazy dream.