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Lalit Rao


Mr. Lalit Rao is a film critic from Jaipur, India, FIPRESCI India member. He is currently writing a book on 25 best French films (1990-2015). Apart from ''World Cinema'', he is interested in chess, foreign languages, linguistics and philosophy. He is also the associate editor of the quarterly magazine "Cinematography Art". Mr. Lalit Rao has reported extensively on film festivals especially 'World Cinema' through more than 40 blogs and 8 videos channels. Cinema journal ‘Deep Focus’, and ‘Bangalore Film Society’ were represented by him as their correspondent in Paris for 2005-2006. He also presented a paper on Canadian cinema entitled ‘A brief overview of Francophone cinema in Québec’ during 20th International Conference on Canadian Studies, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, 27-29 February, 2004. Apart from writing 1000 reviews on IMDB, Mr. Lalit Rao has created KINEMA, a database with information on 25,000 films. His articles in French and English have appeared in Deep Focus, Kinoglaz, Objectif-Cinema, Sancho Does Asia and Séquences. Mr.Lalit Rao studied Master 2 at Université de Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris where he worked on ‘Distribution of Indian cinema’ in France. As a film critic, Mr. Lalit Rao has attended numerous film festivals in France and India.

 


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The invisible visible : A poignant look at India’s destitute and homeless who must be protected from anti-beggary laws.

The invisible visible : A poignant look at India’s destitute and homeless who must be protected at all costs against the draconian anti beggary laws : © A review by film critic Lalit Rao (FIPRESCI) dated 13.02.2022 

 
Poverty is a serious global problem that occurs when a person does not have adequate financial resources to meet basic needs. Though poverty generally refers to the lack of income or wealth, it can also be described as a condition preventing an individual or family from obtaining the necessary resources needed to maintain the standard of living customary in their society. According to The World Bank, an individual is considered to be living in poverty when living on $1.25 or less a day. Recent estimates show that 14.5% of the world’s population, just over 1.3 billion, lives in poverty. These are some general facts about poverty which suggest that ‘‘Poverty is not a crime’’. We all know that it is not a crime to be poor and one shouldn’t condemn people for their poverty. However, this is not the case in India where archaic laws especially anti beggary laws have made poverty a crime. This overt victimization of poor especially in urban India is the principal theme of national award winning director Kireet Khurana’s documentary film ‘‘The invisible visible’’.
The film begins with the retelling of the infamous Muzaffarpur shelter home case, a case of sexual abuse, rape and torture reported from shelter homes in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. This case was unearthed by ‘Koshish’, when it was commissioned by Bihar state’s department of social welfare to carry out the task of auditing shelter homes in Bihar, India. ‘Koshish’ was launched in 2006 as a student initiative at the Mumbai campus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and has since grown into full-fledged social intervention for rehabilitation of people living on the streets. The project now extends to Delhi, Maharashtra and Bihar.
 
For ‘‘The invisible visible’’, director Kireet Khurana travelled extensively to Bihar, Maharashtra and New Delhi in order to get a first-hand view of poverty. Through the course of his travels in these parts, he learned that the legal framework in India especially laws in India against poverty aren’t helping poor people to come out of their miserable existence. On the contrary, these very laws are in many ways compelling people to remain in poverty.  
 
Most of the film’s action is set in Mumbai, India’s financial capital. In 2016, an estimated 55 percent of Mumbai's population lived in slums. One gets to see in the film that life is extremely tough for destitute and homeless in Mumbai as they are continually harassed and persecuted by civic authorities as well as local police. It is quite common for them to have their belongings burnt and getting severely beaten by police.
 
There is an element of authenticity in ‘‘The invisible visible’’ as the theme of poverty has been shown by depicting the lives of poor through those people who have also experienced it on a personal level. As an example, one gets to see the travails of a young man Tarique Mohamed, a TISS student whose organisation ‘Koshish’ works for the rehabilitation of  homeless in Mumbai. Tarique recounts in an honest and direct way how he was able to relate to poor people from beggars’ home as there have been many days in his life as a student when he didn’t have enough to eat. 
 
 
There is a direct bearing of law on poverty. There are certain laws made by legislation which are beneficial for the poor such as child labour prevention law, labour laws, laws against gender discrimination etc. However, by and large the state has failed to alleviate the suffering of the poor. As an example of law becoming a hindrance to poverty, one can easily cite the example of ‘The Bombay Prevention of Begging Act of 1959’, an anti beggary law that criminalizes the act of begging and any person found involved in it can be arrested without warrant. Through this film, we see how this law is grossly misused and urban homeless poor people are forced to lead a life of abject poverty. The need of the hour is to repeal such an inhumane law, establish more shelters for poor people all over India and facilitate the safety and security of children and women in these shelters.      
 
It is hoped that after watching ‘The invisible visible’, viewers will comprehend that we are all equal and like all of us even homeless and poor people must be given all opportunities to live a life of dignity and respect. This must be construed as a loud and clear message of this meaningful film.
 
Director: Kireet Khurana, Climb Media, India
Executive Producer: Pravesh Sippy, N N Sippy Productions
Creative Support: R Balki & Gauri Shinde
Impact Producer: Hannah Fisher, Rashmi Lamba, Rushes Inc., Canada
Co-Director | Cinematographer: Harsh Doshi, alumni FAMU, Macedonia
Editor: Prithvi Raj Dasgupta
Music: Rahul Bhatt, Two ears old
Research Head: Satvika Khera, Human rights researcher, Northwest Univ.
Audiographer & Sound Design: Gaurav Kumar Singh, FTII Alumni, India
     
 
 
 
 

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About Lalit Rao

RAO Lalit

Mr. Lalit Rao (member-FIPRESCI) writes for this website on a regular basis as a film critic publishing reviews on his profile

In February 2017, he participated as jury member during  9th Bangalore International Film Festival 2017.

In 2014, he attended 19th International Film Festival of Kerala 2014 as a member of film critics’ jury.

As a film critic, Mr.Lalit Rao has attended film festivals in India as well as France namely International Film Festival of India (IFFI), International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), Festival International de Films de Femmes de Créteil, Paris : Cinéma du Réel-Festival International de films documentaires, Est-ce ainsi que les hommes vivent? Saint-Denis, Rencontres Internationales du Cinéma de Patrimoine, Vincennes & Festival International des Cinémas d'Asie, Vesoul. 


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