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Archive for June, 2010

Picture this: Kailash, a young school drop-out (Std. V!) is a film-maker now, shooting and editing, on her own! Mahesh Bhai, a former farmer, who knows basic English, does it too. Not too common a sight, is it? We don’t really bump into people with such backgrounds, who are filmmakers. But what happens, when such people can, and actually make their own media? The Citizens’ Media Diaries is about them, their media, and how they affect diverse change in their own lives, and that of others.

Since this is my first post, let me start with my own diary: I was a college student in Delhi, studying media – the usual post-school routine, to aspire to take up a discipline of one’s choice. I still remember my uneasy discomfort, when we were supposed to make our final film projects – the kind of feeling you get, when you know very little about your ‘subject’ – about making a film, a documentary, on someone else’s life. No wonder, the film we finally made, was about ‘us’ – three college students! The concept and implications of citizens making their own media, about their own lives, has inspired me ever since that experience. A sneak preview of our college production is here:

(Thanks to Charu for this edited version)

This feeling only grew stronger, as I went on to study Social Work at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. The more closely I saw common people’s lives as a social work student, the more I felt, they needed to have their own expression, their own voice, and so, the ability to produce their own media. So, I went ahead and pursued this idea in my professional life as well – working with organizations and people, promoting it.

Being with communities and working on video projects with them, has probably been the most enriching experience in my life. I have been their friend, their mentor, sometimes, even like a teacher(!). I have had my moments of un-self-conscious fun, innocent joy, immense frustrations and ‘I-want-to-give-up’ moments, as well. But it’s only worth the effort, when you see eyes lighting up, faces brightening up, as these self-made films appear on the screen. At times, it’s hard to decide, who’s happier – you or them?

In an endeavour, to understand this world of peoples’ media, to help it further its journey, and be a part of this hugely potential field of active citizen involvement, I have started on a PhD, researching on Participatory Video, and its multiple facets, at the Open University, in the UK. This blog is my space to literally, pour my thoughts out. I want to also share all the great resources, innovations and experiments that I have come across, from my earlier work life and experiences, and the ones that I gather from now on, with this new beginning. I envisage, this will be a dynamic space for all those, interested in media made by people. It aims to provoke discussions and debates, to enrich me and all who participate, further, with your observations, thoughts and experiences, as well.

Here’s wishing me, Happy Blogging and you, Happy Reading. Don’t be shy to shoot back!

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