This Indian village is more hi-tech than you can possibly imagine!

Akodara

This 3 minute story shows you how the typical notion of an Indian village is changing. You are bound to feel good (and may be a bit proud) after watching this short documentary. The next time someone asks you how much modern can an Indian village really get, you should show them this!

Akodara 3 minute story

The village in question is Akodara (Gujarat). It’s a few hours drive from Ahmedabad. I visited it for a day last week. I am certain that it might take several years for even a fraction of overall Indian villages to come anywhere close to Akodara. But it feels good to see that a modernization journey has at least started. That there is a ‘model village’ to aspire to afterall, and that is not merely on papers.

Akodara 3 minute story Akodara 3 minute story

A typical line of debate that ensues when something like this is shared is – how about taking care of farmer suicides first, or access to healthcare first or providing teachers in schools in those villages where they don’t even exist! But the thing is, different groups (be it a government organization or an NGO or a corporate) are already working towards solving different problems every single day. The real question is, is it necessary that unless ‘all other important’ issues are solved, the so called ‘not so important’ be not worked towards? Doing something new, showing the villagers a life that they might not have otherwise imagined, brings it’s own positive influence and gives a vision to work towards. And this can, and should, happen in parallel, while other problems are addressed.

Akodara 3 minute storyAkodara 3 minute story

I was invited by ICICI Bank (that has funded a lot of initiatives in this village), along with journalists from main-stream media (both print and TV), to witness the transformation that Akodara has undergone in a short span of time. This article from Samrat (who works for the Hindu) from the same trip, also makes for an interesting read!

Akodara 3 minute story

PS: Those who are curious to know more about the projector like equipment being used in the classrooms of this village, can read more about it here.

What this IITian has been doing for 30+ years, MUST be shared!

Uncover

In three minutes, you will be fascinated with how one person who could have easily taken up a good job after graduating from IIT in 1975, decided to do something extremely innovating for the education of poor kids. For him, education is not about ‘covering’ syllabus but to ‘uncover’ the mysteries of this world. After watching this story, most of you would agree that his approach towards education doesn’t just apply to poor kids, but to almost every school child in this world, where education has essentially been reduced to the art of mugging and scoring in exams.

I met Arvind Gupta via Soumeet. Soumeet had launched the makersofthings campaign last year. He asked me if I wanted to make 3 minute documentaries on some of the real life story leads that he had received. His video on how India innovates had gone viral and he was flooded with stories of innovation.

For various reasons I could not get myself to collaborate with him on a full fledged scale, but I agreed to shoot one movie. I was in Uttarakhand, working on Mamta’s story when Soumeet and I spoke about a story around Arvind Gupta. Some time later, last year itself, I traveled to Pune and wrapped up the interview and shooting. But unfortunately, I was able to finish making the movie only after about eight months (i.e. now)! Hope you like it and hope you genuinely feel a story like this needs to be shared with every school, not only in India but across the world.

After seeing this 3MS (3 min story), some of you might want to check out Arvind Gupta’s website or his Youtube Channel or even his Ted talk (which became very popular and from which, I have used a small portion in my 3MS).

If you liked this story, you can view all my short-documentaries under the ‘Education’ theme.

If you do / have done something interesting or inspiring or have started something interesting or inspiring (say an initiative or a company or an NGO) or know of others who have, and would like me to make a short documentary about it, CONTACT ME.

PS: If you want to embed this video on your site, you can write to me at amrit.vatsa@gmail.com – I will add your site to the embed white-list (without which the video will NOT play on your site). You would need to add the following line of credit below the video (along with the hyperlink): “Video by Amrit, a wedding photographer and a documentary film-maker based in India.”

This 5 min video is for every ‘over-protective’ parent to watch!

HeartShaped


This story is about a mother who was forced to make a choice. Sometimes, choices are made from the heart. Sometimes, for the heart. And sometimes, in both ways. HeartShaped tells you how.

Katie saw one of my short documentaries online (last year) and shared her story with me over mail. Which was not really a story but a slice of an important part of her life. A delicate part of her life. I decided to meet her soon.

When I first met her in a cafe in Delhi and we had our little chat, I did not know what kind of a short documentary I could make for her. Though what she had shared with me was delicate, it did not fall under the standard template of what constitutes a story. But I could sense something. Something worth making. Something worth sharing with the rest of the world. I returned to Goa and gave it some more thought and when I visited Delhi next, I kind of knew what I wanted to show. HeartShaped is the result. All of it was shot over two visits to Delhi last year early winter (2014).

Acknowledgements:

  • Katie for sharing the story and inviting me to make the documentary
  • Habibi Restaurant, Saket, New Delhi – for letting me shoot Katie perform (the opening shot in the film)
  • Delhi Rock Studio – for providing space to shoot a dance sequence (the last one in the film)
  • Vishnupriya – for helping me finalize the name HeartShaped (after we discussed and rejected about a million other names that I could have given to this short-documentary)
  • All my friends on Facebook who agreed to have a look at the first cut of the movie and provided valuable feedback (some of which I took care of)

For those who would like to read more about Tetralogy of Fallot, can do so.

PS: If you would like to embed the video on your site, you can write to me (amrit.vatsa@gmail.com) and I will add your site to the white-list (without which it will not play on your site). Below the video, you shall have to copy-paste the following (along with the hyper-link): Video courtesy Amrit, a documentary film-maker and wedding photographer based in India.

A 10 min story on humanity & good karma that’ll touch your soul

Good Deeds Come Back

This is a story from the mountains of Uttarakhand. Uttarakhand witnessed grave tragedy in 2013 when continuous cloud-bursts lead to heavy floods, killing many and washing away several houses. And from the tragedy, emerged two stories that I have tried to document. Both the stories intersect at one point and though there are a lot of underlying themes, one of the bigger themes that emerges is: ‘Good Deeds Come Back.’ Obviously, you should not just be good and / or do good because one day, your good karma will come back to you! Karma can take its own sweet time sometimes, as we all know. But then once in a while you do get rewarded for your good act in the same lifetime, (even when you did the things that you did just because you wanted to and not in the hope of any reward some day). And this is pretty much what this short-documentary (about 10 minutes) is about!

I came to know about this story from Anusha, a journalist and a mountaineer, who also started this thing called Summiting4Hope with her mountaineer friend Guneet. Summiting4Hope executes expeditions (presently in Uttarakhand), thus creating small employment for local villagers in the mountains and then uses any extra money generated to fund local projects in the village.

I had met Anusha in Jabalpur last year. I was in Jabalpur to shoot a short documentary about tree plantation, for Vodafone. She was there to write about the same. And soon, I visited Uttarkashi and a village nearby to shoot this (October 2014). Yes, it took me a while to finish making this, but better late than never! :)

Those who like the story and would like to contact these awesome women, can email them at subanusha@gmail.com or guneet223@gmail.com

Credits for Archival video:
1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xv-7KrBWdoM
2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QW6Ebl5z4w

Here’s how one company is solving a big problem that most young parents face!

The Flintobox Story

Children today are glued to TV, tablets, computers, phones and what not. And parents are busier than they ever were. So what can they really do to keep their children away from prolonged influence of TV and other electronic gadgets that constantly surround them? By providing them with useful toys may be? But how often do you find toys that are not just entertaining (like a small car or a small gun or a doll) but are also designed to help children develop different skills and gain useful knowledge? Rarely, you say? Well, you are not the only one! This is the problem that most parents of young kids, especially between 3 to 8 year old, face! And this short documentary is a beautiful story of a company that is solving exactly this problem.

I am Amrit, a wedding photographer and and independent documentary film-maker and I would like to thank Arun and Vijay, Co-founders of Flinto for sharing their story with me and for sending Flintoboxes – their awesome product, to couple of my friends in Goa – who are also parents of 5 year olds. I would also like to thank Neeru and her cute son Shaurya for sharing their experience with the box, both visually and in words.

If you know of other folks / organizations that are doing something interesting which can be shot and a story could be created from their work, do let me know. I would love to work with them to create such short documentaries. I can be reached at amrit.vatsa@gmail.com

And if you are a parent of 3 to 8 year old, you must check out the various subscription options available at Flintobox.com. Do share this story if you found it interesting! :)

We criticize Police all the time. Few IITians decided to help them instead! Worth sharing?

Pukar

Aditya is a computer science graduate from IIT Delhi. He worked as a consultant for few years. But he soon quit his corporate life to start an NGO – People for Parity (PfP). As described in it’s website, PfP “works to curb gender- based violence in India, via engaging youth to create deep understanding and action on gender violence in their lives and communities and engaging institutions like the police, school and university authorities, and others for effective prevention of gender-based violence“.

**

Can’t understand Hindi?

In the video above, you can click on this icon  cc-grey –>  cc-blue (turning it on to blue will activate English Subtitles; look for this CC icon in the bottom right area of the video player above).

**

While working on various ways to make our society equally safe for all genders, PfP came up with the idea of a smart-phone based app that could help police rescue the citizens, by dynamically tracking their locations (when in danger).

To rope in police was anything but an easy task! Shashank Yaduvanshi & Ravikant Bhargava, also from IITD, added on to Aditya’s idea and developed the app within few months (called Pukar). But thereafter, the PfP team had to struggle for one full year before getting their first breakthrough with any police department. Credit for their first breakthrough goes to Arushi Mittal, another IIT batchmate of Aditya, who is also his colleague at PfP at present.

By the time they had their app ready, a lot of other distress apps had already been launched, especially after the infamous Nirbhaya bus gang-rape in Delhi. But most of them only helped in sending out distress SMSes to one’s friends / relatives. Almost no one considered bringing police in the loop. And very few considered live tracking of the sender’s whereabouts using the existing GPS feature of the smartphones. The few that did, were not free!

This short documentary is the story of Aditya and his friends from IIT Delhi; how they almost gave up on Police but how they finally did achieve their goal of convincing the Police about the value that such an app brings, not only to them, but also to the citizens in general. Pukar’s journey has just begun and let us wish them all the very best in their noble mission.

Do download the app and share this video-story with your family and friends. Let’s help these guys in their mission of making India safe for its citizens; for men, women and everyone, equally.

These IITians are solving a problem that every school faces! Worth sharing!

Book Lovers’ Program for Schools

Amrutash, my batch mate from IIT Madras, left his lucrative job to start a library business which failed to get the desired readership. Naresh, also my batch-mate (we shared the same hostel and wing even) joined theater after IIT, but realized he could not make enough money from that.

It is amazing to see how today, both Amrutash & Naresh have joined hands to create a successful business that is solving a problem almost every school faces.

This 3MS is their story and what they do and how schools are loving them.

**

I am Amrit – a wedding photographer / cinematographer (www.shaadigrapher.com) and a documentary film-maker (3minutestories.com) based in India. If you want to embed this video on your site, you will need my help to change privacy settings so that it plays on your site – so just drop me a mail to amrit.vatsa@gmail.com and I would gladly help you!

A bunch of school students have found a unique way to empower rural women

Seema

When you start watching this short documentary, you might not notice much beyond a bunch of girls trying to make something in a hobby class. But the impact of what they are doing, on their lives, will bring a broad smile to your face.

When Malaika wrote to me about some of the interesting and inspiring things students like herself were doing at Mahindra United World College (MUWC) of India, I had imagined a bunch of college students trying to change the world they lived in. It was only when I finally visited the campus last month in Paud, Pune, that I realized that these students (though indeed trying the change the world and all of that) were actually school students! MUWC is an equivalent of XI-XII standard school and the most interesting aspect that I noticed about it was that it had students from all over the world! Wow – I would have died to study in a school like after my tenth! I didn’t even know not for profit schools like these existed, when I was in school! :(

Anyway, so let me not write here what this latest short documentary of mine is about. You should see it for yourself. And if you like what these school kids are doing for the rural women folk (living near their campus), do show support in whichever way you can! You can share this documentary online or just drop a mail to them (seemacircle@gmail.com) acknowledging the their honest effort! If you know of other such inspiring stories that I should make documentaries on, do write to me at amrit.vatsa@gmail.com

**

PS: If you feel like embedding this video on your website, you can use the following intro text (and link) to give credit to me:

Amrit is a wedding photographer / cinematographer (www.shaadigrapher.com) and a documentary film-maker (3minutestories.com) based in India.

Felt like planting a tree but didn’t know how & where? This 4 min video is an eye opener!

Grow Trees

When Robin, who works at Adfactors, told me about a Grow-Trees Vodafone campaign to plant 3 lakh tree saplings between the Kanha and Pench forest reserves (Madhya Pradesh), and asked me to consider making a short documentary on it, I wasn’t too sure what exactly would I be making. But I said yes to him nevertheless. I had imagined hundreds of employees from these two organizations planting saplings all day. And then I had thought, how much can one shoot people just planting trees? What’s the story? Planting trees is great, but there is nothing new about it, there is no story to be told (at least not one that I could imagine). I had this feeling I would end up making something pretty boring. And I hate to make any boring documentary.

I had a Goa Mumbai flight followed by another one from Mumbai to Jabalpur (Jabalpur being the base location from where everyone would drive down to the area where tree saplings would be planted). My Goa Mumbai flight got enough delayed that I missed my next flight to Jabalpur. And there is just one flight per day to Jabalpur. So I was like, shit, what now! But then a helpful girl from Adfactor’s office figured something out. I was booked a seat in a flight to Nagpur after few hours. Nagpur is like 200+ Kms from Jabalpur and luckily I found seats in a train which made me reach Jabalpur just on time to join the rest of the group for the trip to the forest reserve.

It was a four hours drive from our hotel in Jabalpur to the forest area. Almost all the time I kept on wondering on what could the story be. There were about half a dozen folks in the caravan that I was travelling in, one of them being Ankita – a travel blogger. I remember at one point, she made a comment that she and I were the only two people not sleeping. I looked around. She was right. The Rahuls from Mumbai (Rahul1 runs Pandolin and Rahul2 is a Bollywood writer) were sleeping, Robin from Adfactors was sleeping (pretty much deserved it after so much of coordination calls he had to make and attend all the time), Rusen who runs a CSR magazine was sleeping and the trekker & travel writer Anusha was sleeping too. I don’t know about Ankita but I couldn’t sleep because not knowing what story I was going to bring out, was simply too much of a stress to take!

But then everyone didn’t just keep sleeping. We also did talk about lot of stuff including that on these two issues: a) what is the success rate of a sapling planted on a public land to actually grow into a tree and b) what kind of trees are actually planted and how is the tree type chosen (there was this argument that many a times in mining areas, the trees that are planted just for the sake of planting trees end up doing more harm than any good). I wondered why these questions never crossed my mind. But I also knew I had some idea about what my documentary was going to be about. My 3MS should answer these questions.

While still on our way, I asked Robin about the number of people that would be planting trees once we reached the forest land. He said there were two more caravans on their way – one had folks from the press and the other had about half a dozen folks from Vodafone and one guy from Grow-Trees.com – the CEO. This made me uncomfortable too. While I had been imagining hundreds of people planting trees all day – suddenly my visual imagination changed. And I was back to wondering how good the documentary would look if all it showed was a bunch of twenty people planting trees in a remote area in Madhya Pradesh. That too for just half an hour.

With one tea / snacks break in between, we finally reached our destination. I had only 25 minutes to shoot. A lot of interesting questions were asked by Vikas from Vodaone as well as Anusha and thankfully the answer to those questions gave me my story. There was a light drizzle initially and I was not too sure if I would be able to fly my quadcopter. But the weather cleared out luckily and I am glad I got to get some pretty cool aerial shots. I was also glad I could record an interview of Bikrant, the CEO of Grow-Trees.

It took me about a week to finally make sense of all that had been said and all that had been done and the documentary video is for all of you to watch and share! And as I write this, I already have two news stories to edit! :) Good life! By the way, after watching the 4 minute video, also do go to grow-trees.com and plant a tree, because unless you do that, the whole point will be lost! :)

Video credit format: Amrit is a wedding photographer / cinematographer (www.shaadigrapher.com) and a documentary film-maker (3minutestories.com) based in India.

PS: the initial aerial shots in the video are from Goa 😛 I needed to show something when Bikrant and I talked about trees and these shots seem to fit in the narration :)

PS2: sharing a video by Rahul which shows how I took the aerial shots