Indian craftsmanship won, says teen whose documentary won at New York International Film Awards

All the gadgets and gears were her own

rhea_bakshi Rhea Bakshi

A documentary from India, titled, India's Treasures was recently presented with the 'New York International Film Awards' finalist' this year. What's interesting is it is made by a 17-year-old girl, Rhea Bakshi, an economics student at Shri Ram School in DelhiThe film, she says, is a result of her ever-growing curiosity and interest in India's growing silver jewellery industry, which stands at a whopping 34 per cent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) as of now.

The retailers were identified through a collective called 'Dastkar,' a society for crafts and craftspeople. Dastkar in turn connected Bakshi to various other organisations. The young girl also approached microcredit facilities and spoke to their beneficiaries in Jaipur and Ghaziabad to learn more about the impact microcredit made on their lives. 

"The first reason for choosing this topic is that my family is from Rajasthan and the impact that Rajasthan and silver jewellery created in my life as a kid just grew over the years. Secondly, the documentary mainly focused on 'inclusive and economic growth,' wherein everyone has access to fair and equal opportunities," says Bakshi. She says she found that although silver is not as popular as gold, it is much more beneficial for artisans to work on this metal. "Since the artisan groups are made up of low-income people, they have better access to silver than gold, given the cost difference between the two metals," she further added. 

"I think the biggest experience I had was to enter somebody else's workspace and to record their challenges and everyday lives. the biggest part was to make them comfortable and to get them to share on camera. Those informal exchanges we had off-camera helped me to get them to open up in front of the camera. It was a very big learning experience for me. Because as a filmmaker I cannot underplay the significance of establishing a comfort level with those whose lives I wish to portray and whose stories I wish to narrate. "I think more than me it is the Indian craftsmanship that has won the award -- those lesser known but highly talented worksmiths who are portrayed in the film are the real winners," says Bakshi, with a smile in a telephonic interview to THE WEEK. Her parents motivated her to apply for the award, immediately after the film was ready. The film though, was a result of Bakshi's interest and passion and not as a school project. She does not even study Film Studies as a subject in school. So all the gadgets and gears were her own, right from her DSLRs (Canon 2 Mark D2) to editing the 5-hour-long footage to a crisp 19 minutes 25 seconds, final one.  

 The film premiered on JioTV on August 15