Capturing his mother’s laborious task of sourcing drinking water for her family on film has won 18-year-old Ashish Gaikwad a full scholarship to pursue a two-year course in filmmaking at the Whistling Woods International (WWI), Goregaon.
Gaikwad, who lives in a slum in Bandra, will begin attending classes at the film school from July 18.
Gaikwad’s documentary was screened at a workshop at WWI by director Amol Gupte, who is associated with Aseema, a not-for-profit which introduced film making to the youth in Gaikwad’s slum. “I screened it because I wanted the world to see how someone, who has hardly any means, can make such a beautiful film. The students were amazed.” said Gupte.
Meghna Ghai Puri, whose father, Subhash Ghai, founded the institute, said she was stunned by Gaikwad’s work. “When my father and I saw his [Gaikwad’s] documentary, we were stunned by the beauty of his storytelling,” said Puri adding that the film school wants to encourage youth from a non-film background.
Gaikwad’s first brush with filmmaking came when Aseema started conducting basic film making workshops in his slum. He made the documentary, Tahaan (‘thirst’), in 2010, tracing his mother, Shobha’s struggle to bring drinking water to their one-room hutment in the Rahul Nagar slum in Bandra. Shobha works as a sweeper with the civic body. She got job when her husband, who worked with the civic body, died in 1998.
“I used to see her struggle every morning just to get us clean drinking water,” said Gaikwad. His slum did not have a municipal water connection. The film shows how his mother raised money to purchase drinking water and often travelled to Mahim to wash clothes with water leaking from a pipeline that supplies water to the city.
Having completed his Class 12 from RD National College in Bandra, he was keen to pursue the Bachelors in Mass Media (BMM) course. However, the scholarship has changed that. “I can’t wait to start the course. I knew that people liked my work and appreciated it, but this was just completely unexpected,” he said. “I want to specialise in editing because you can always find work in that field.”
Gaikwad is now working on an untitled documentary on the illegal dumping of garbage near drinking water sources such as wells in Igatpuri.