Sunday, October 10, 2010


Dear Friends

Our school, Mahadevi Birla Girls' H S School has a Film club in which we watch films and discuss them.I had asked my student, Shreya Madhogarhia, who is now in Class 11, to write about her experience of being a member. Am posting her article here, for it reveals the immense possibilities the medium of cinema holds in a better understanding of the self.

Rupali Sachdev

Film Club-my experience (uptil now)

The very first days...
When I first walked into the classroom, greeted by a smiling Miss Sachdev, I was naïve, out of all things. And blind, more or less.
But I had an empty cup.
I realized later, that it was all I needed…

We got an introduction before we saw a film or a documentary. But we were never fed conclusions. Somehow, it was just not another class where submitting a hard cover file full of blindly copied information (almost always from the same sources) could help get good grades. Most of what we saw forced us to think. That was all that was asked of us, to think, discuss, opine, ask and react, in our own ways…

Learned a lot...
We did not have the best infrastructure for film screenings. There were times when something or the other wouldn’t work. Equally stubborn, we would find other ways.
We may not have had a projector but we had a computer, and a large screen.That seemed to suffice.
I learned a lot from things like that...

We were few in number, most times. Sometimes, very few. I thought it was sad, disappointing, a disgrace. Miss, however thought it was a great, in a way.
“A few, but a dedicated few. Someone’s better than no one.”
I learned a lot from conversations like that…

When I saw Skin Deep, Bombay Our City, A Narmada Diary, Rashomon, I went back home with an uneasy feeling. These were not some films with a pleasant and comfortable happy-ending. I felt challenged everytime. Challenged to figure out what had disturbed me and why.To reflect and infer.To study what’s around me, without a book...
I learned a LOT from films like that.

Then we set on another journey, within the larger one. We had to make (yes, make!) a documentary on our school (for our golden jubilee celebration). Together, we got a taste of what its like to do everything from directing to editing a 30-minute documentary over a period of one whole year. It was bitter at one point, with all the running around and disappointments, but other images linger in the mind now. Images of us laughing as we cried and crying as we laughed in places like our editing room, that corner in the hall, corridors, lobbies, the school ground…

Dear film club,IOU...
If the film club was a living being (it already seems to be a living space, with a collective spirit) I’d owe it so much, its hard to imagine the magnitude of that ‘much’.
It’s a weird thing, that I’m not indebted for answers.
Rather, for questions. Questions that are like hungry wolves in my head, with nothing to pacify them, except for, an unbiased, clear, perfect answer.

Almost two years after I wrote the word ‘film’ in my ECA form, I know about Kurosawa, montage, Anand Patwardhan, editing lingo etcetera, but more than that, I feel like I’ve grown, in many ways. In the way I see things. In the way I feel about things..
In the way I look at my life, which, of course has been and will be, the most difficult film I’ve ever had to cast, direct and of course, edit at the same time!

When film club was not a part of our extra-curricular activity period in class 10, I was quite disappointed. What’s ‘extra’ about films in our curriculum, I mused. It’s a much better way to learn anyway. But I wasn’t frustrated enough, for I did nothing about it. We’ll have those film festivals, I told myself. I was convinced with ‘but’s and ‘atleast’s…
Now in class 11, we still don’t have club periods anymore : (
This time I’ll do something about it.
But I’m still a film club member. Yes, very much.
(And don’t you dare ask me for proof.)

Shreya Madhogarhia, Class 11

An Update:
Not only do we have Film Club in our school in Class 10  (from April 2010), but also, the school has included it as a club activity for Class 11 (from April 2011 onwards). 

We also had a 10 day international film festival from 27th Sept- 11th Oct. There were 2 silent films, 5 were black and white,  and none of the films had stars, or star directors, or  songs and dances (except Singing in the Rain). They were from Italy, Russia, UK, US, Japan, China and India. If we feel that our 15-16 yr old children, would not sit through Battleship Potemkin or Rashomon or Bicycle thieves, we can rethink. Will get back on this within a few days.

R Sachdev


  1. your experience is beautifully written and expreesed..:)

  2. I think using popular films to teach in the classroom is an excellent idea. From your report on the workshop you recently conducted in August I could see that you had some very interesting sessions. It will be wonderful if you could do an article on how a teacher can teach from popular films for our magazine Teacher Plus. I particularly liked Shubha Das Mollick's presentation of teaching about machines using the movie Home Alone.