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An Everyday Hero

By Parul Sanghi Email By Parul Sanghi
April 2013
An Everyday Hero

 

Amar, a 16-year-old Jamshedpur boy, demonstrates the triumph of the human spirit over its bleak circumstances. And now an award-winning documentary on a day in his life is taking his inspiring example around the world.

It doesn’t matter if your dreams are too big or too small. And often it is even not necessary that you have a dream.

Sometimes, a person becomes a hero just by squaring his shoulders and soldiering on, doing his duty as best as he can.

For Amar, a 16-year-old from Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, a day has too few hours to fritter away in dreams. But for the thousands of people the world over who have seen Andrew Hinton’s documentary on him, he is a true hero living an exceptionally inspiring life.

 

 Amar’s day starts at 4:30 a.m. First job: delivering newspapers at dawn.
  04_13-IndianLife_Electric.jpg  

 

The short film titled Amar, nine minutes and 45 seconds long, captures a typical day in the life of tenth grade student Amar Pratap Chowdhary. Amar wakes up at 4.30 in the morning, distributes newspapers on his bicycle at dawn, and goes to work in an electrical appliances shop sharp at 9 a.m. At 2 p.m., he dashes off to school after a quick lunch. He is back at work in the shop after school, staying on till 10 at night. Then, he comes back home, has dinner, completes his homework and goes to bed well after midnight. Amar’s pitiful monthly income from his 20-hour workday nevertheless makes him the family’s main breadwinner, supporting his mother, siblings, and his alcoholic father. Oh, and Amar also ranks first in his class!
  His school day is sandwiched between his job at the electric store.  
  04_13-IndianLife_InSchool.jpg  

 

Understandably, the film has made Amar an overnight star in the steel city of Jamshedpur. Hinton met the subject of his film when he was in Jamshedpur a few years ago. “I visited his school with one of the members of an organization called Initiatives of Change. I wanted to know about the kids who work while also attending school.”
 Despite a gruelling 20-hour day, Amar ranks first in his class at school.  

 

The London-based Hinton currently works as a freelance filmmaker and producer. He says, “My nephew Javia is of Amar’s age, but he has such a privileged life. I wanted to show Javia that there are young people like Amar who make their mark in the world even in such difficult situations. I have traveled a lot, met different people but among all, I find Amar the most dedicated human being and loyal towards his family. He understands his responsibilities and knows his duties very well from a very young age. He is, of course, my favorite. I think people do come across such adverse situations in their life and understand well that they are blessed to have the privileges they take for granted.”

Amar is still learning to accept his new-found fame. “Mujhe toh vishvas hi nahin hota ki mujhe itne log janne lag gaye (I still don’t believe that so many people have started knowing me). I have become famous. I am still in a state of shock…. From movie to the popularity and now interviews, … I never dreamt of such life. I get scared at times but feel good when I see unknown faces gather around me in droves asking for my opinions. I never knew the film based on my life would be such an inspiration to today’s youth. People around the world liked the movie and have appreciated my hard work,” says Amar.

The people at Amar’s school are, naturally, thrilled with Amar’s fame. “I remember when Andrew Hinton was shooting. He was right there with Amar from 4 a.m. to midnight, capturing all the minute details in his three-day shoot. I really feel so proud to have a student like Amar Pratap. I must really thank Hinton for filming Amar’s story and making people across the world know Amar for his hard work and passion,” says Anuranjan, the principal of his school.

School Director Vijayam Kartha says, “I am obliged by the hard work that both the director and Amar put into making this movie. The movie is indeed a huge success and has inspired a lot of children globally. I am glad that Andrew has also credited him with the earned money and gifted him a cricket bat and a bicycle.”

  04_13-IndianLife_Homework.jpg  

 

The documentary, produced by Pilgrim Films, received its first award in 2011, being judged the best film in the Satyajit Ray Foundation Short Film Competition at the London India Film Festival. Amar competed with six other entries from India and the United Kingdom. Hinton won £1000 as prize money and shared half the amount with Amar Pratap Choudhary.

The film also bagged the People’s Choice Award at Jeevika: Asia Livelihood Documentary Festival 2011. It recently took the Best Film title in the documentary category at the Vimeo Festival in New York, which received 14,567 entries from about 147 countries across the globe.

  Homework caps off the day, closing in towards midnight.  

 

The movie has also received rave reviews in the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, France, and India.

The movie contains no dialogue and only showcases Amar’s daily activities. “Amar doesn’t speak much. He is quite a determined child. I wanted his day to speak for itself. I liked the simplicity of natural sounds being played in the background. It was an amazing project. I believe in direct cinema and try to follow it. I really owe Amar a lot. I love him,” adds Hinton.

 



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