They walked up to the taxi at the signal. I was ready with my camera. I rolled down the window and said, “I’m going to take a photo of you.” They looked a little confused.

I asked, “Where do you live?” “Here,” she said. “And why are you begging? And making her beg too? What is her name?” They smiled, and posed again.

Urmila and Sheela live outside a railway station with their family who makes cane baskets. A lot of street children in Mumbai live with their families. They run out to a traffic signal to beg, to supplement their family’s income.

Often the money they earn is used to buy small treats.

Deepa, for instance, whose family sells flowers at another traffic junction near another railway station, loves Chinese food and chocolates. She will never say ‘no’ to an ice-cream ever.

Deepa also does love being on the street, selling flowers with her family and begging. She is still young enough to see it as ‘time-pass’.

Deepa hates going to school, but because of the documentary we worked on, and our repeated inter-actions with her, she thinks she can tolerate school if it means she will win our approval.

The exchange of a few words with Urmila and Sheela made them smile, and forget the money they were asking for. They got lost in the pleasure of being shot.

Even during the rehearsals for ‘Kaphal‘ the children opened up most when they were having fun. Otherwise, most of our efforts to have them communicate and articulate met with little response.

As I inter-act more and more with children, I think, pleasure can be a huge motivator. More than dreary speeches about improving their lives with school.

I love films, I love talking about films. And I am a huge believer in films as a mode of communication, not only via the film itself, but between the members of the audience themselves. What better proof than can there be than the number of friendships forged over film blogs? Or the incredible camaraderie shared by students of the Film Institute over the years, largely based on the shared experience of the films we have watched?

This is the idea behind my community project ‘Streetlight’. ย Please go and join up the community on FB, if you have not already.

The need of the hour is a venue with projection facilities for the screenings. It would be good to have an event on October 2, and November 14.