Begumpura & Brooklyn

Rashmi LambaBlog

A surprise invitation to the ‘Canadian Screen Awards’ held last night found me hobnobbing with the best in the Canadian Film and Television Industry!!!
Paritosh, the force behind my film on ‘Begumpura’ invited me to join him at the Awards. A wonderful evening!
I was happy to see the recognition awarded to the two films ‘Brooklyn’ and ‘Room’…both great films, especially ‘Brooklyn’ that resonates with the sentiments and emotions expressed in ‘Begumpura’…looking for a better life but the consequences of homesickness, insecurity, finding your feet among new, unknown people…and the kindness shown by other immigrants…but in the process emerging as a strong, confidant woman who can deal with her life on her own terms!!

Déjà vu

Rashmi LambaBlog

A sense of déjà vu…was what I felt last evening as I got off the bus and walked across Celebration Square to the Central Library in Mississauga to attend the Special Screening of my documentary ‘Begumpura’!

The Central Library was one of the first places I visited as a newly landed immigrant in 2006…to get more information and use free Internet!! Subsequently, I used to attend sessions at the Community Centre to learn more about how to find work and adapt better to living in Canada, especially in and around Mississauga.

It was here that I found out about a professional organization for Women in Film and Television (WIFT)…and took my first steps to find my feet in the film industry in Toronto…and a chance meeting at the documentary Festival, Hot Docs, where I was identified as one of those from ‘Begumpura’…got me a commissioning from the OMNI Television Channel to research and share stories on film about other women residents in Begumpura.

The Special Screening held yesterday was in partnership with Myseum of Toronto

This initiative was launched recently on 6th March, as a public movement to spread art and culture across the city at different venues, rather than just housed in walled Museums. Even though the film was made five years ago, it was selected as part of this initiative and was the first one to be screened under the program ‘Canadian Stories told through Film’.

I feel truly honoured and happy that the stories told in the film are still so relevant and as one of the ladies in the audience said to me after the screening…”I can relate to each one of the women in the film”

In the post-screening Q&A, the first question asked was about how and where all the ladies and children are now?? And I was really happy to report that all were in a good space and had coped well with a sense of empowerment and self-worth.

Infact, one of the ladies featured in the film, Swapna, at that time had been in Canada for hardly six months and was teary-eyed, homesick, insecure and didn’t even let me film her two daughters…but for the screening last night, both the girls came specially all the way from University of Waterloo to share a message sent by their mother who is currently away from Toronto…and this is what she said…” I saw the film again. It was shot at the time I had just come to Canada. I was nervous then and didn’t know what was in store for me and my daughters. A few years later, I am proud to say that my daughters are a product of our trials and tribulations of being in Canada. Canada gave all of us a fair grounding to build our lives. It made us independent and widened our horizons. I had the good fortune of working for the Ontario Provincial Government where my managers encouraged me to acquire Canadian qualifications. Today, I am a CPA-CMA working as a CEO on a project in India. Canada is amongst the few of those places where a woman with young children can safely stay alone and pursue her dreams. Thank you Canada, we all love you.”

The audience was so moved…and the film got a standing ovation!!

I look forward to using this space to share more stories from ‘Begumpura’…and from all others who would like to discuss the joys and challenges faced by those who dare to step out of their comfort zones and explore the world…find new friends, embrace different cultures and live as true global citizens!