Kolkota - Part 2 (and an update)

I realized this week that I wrote part 1 of what was intended to be a 2 part BTS of my time shooting a documentary in Kolkota almost 2 1/2 months ago. Whoops. Let's continue....

After a general venture through the city (Kolkota is SO dense, I doubt that anything but a lifetime there would actually scratch the surface of it) and an excursion out to Kathapukur village, we went into Salt Lake Slum to meet up with the other 2 main subjects of the doc.

The slum we went to was one of countless areas in the city between buildings where people packed into living in various self-made structures of sticks, tarps, sheet metal, and whatever else they can get their hands on. This particular slum had a lot of men who drove rickshaws and people who would sort through piles garbage brought by truckloads to the slum and resell the recycling they were able to cull from it.

We spent a few days in Salt Lake slum filming the day to day life of a couple of it's residents. Both of the people we were with had come to the slum in their own way, Chundi came from a village where work was too hard to find, so he brought his family to the city where he could make more money (about $2 a day) and Manika (12 yrs old) lives there with her slightly older sister, their parents absent.

Such heavy stories were not soaked in sorrow. That's what I couldn't believe. They showed us what their lives were like with a surprisingly clear perspective of what conditions were like and that they weren't like-able, but faced with resolve in the face of reality. To say it was challenging and humbling is an understatement.

Over the next few days we went back out around the city and to another village. It was around the time we were racing down narrow roads between ponds and rice paddies in the back of a three wheel "truck" while I death-gripped a very very expensive rented camera that it hit me how far from home I really was. I am so unbelievably lucky to have ever experienced that feeling once, let alone a few times in my life. To be somewhere completely new, surrounded unknown sights, smells, and sounds. It's a feeling that I suspect I'll be chasing for the rest of my life.

There were countless things to experience and people to meet, I guess it's good we went there to make a documentary about at least a few of them.

The last couple of days were a blur, nothing compared to the blur of the 38 hours journey home, which is a whole tale on it's own. But here we are, 5 months later with a first cut done and the wheels in motion to finish everything up. I am so excited to share more with everyone soon. I will be announcing more details on the project including a title and even a teaser trailer within the next few days so stay tuned!

joe gomez