THE HEADMASTER (PT. 2)
Background: Babar Ali started a school in his village in West Bengal when he was nine years old. Almost a decade later, his school has grown to over three hundred enrolled students and continues to expand. This episode is part 2 of 2.
Part 1: vimeo.com/34680005
It's been almost two years since I first met Babar Ali. He was the central inspiration for this project. When I first met him for this film, he was 17. A year later, in November, 2011, we met again in Bangalore. He was more mature and focused on his school, and was opening his eyes to a greater scope of vision. Babar was also completing his college studies. Attention on him had increased dramatically since we first met. Although it is difficult to keep in touch with all the people we met along the way, Babar has remained a good friend.
Babar's work comes from the grassroots community level--a reversal of the colonial educational approach that has haunted India since the British arrived. He has faced many struggles in running his school. Out of respect for his work, and as to avoid unknowingly detracting from any progress he has made, I have chosen to omit these details. But it's remarkable what he has been able to work through. None of this could have happened without all the people supporting him.
Babar has immense potential and I look forward to witnessing his journey transforming education in India. This episode was made for him to capture this moment in time. Avoid the distractions, my friend, and stay true.
March 29th, 2012
Below is an excerpt of words I wrote about Babar Ali immediately after meeting him in 2010:
When Babar speaks about those educated, and those that are not, he speaks in terms of the light and the darkness. Babar happens to have the only light in his entire village, two solar powered flashlights.
Babar has characteristics of an aloof genius. He paces around and often avoids eye contact. Paints pictures with his hands in conversation. A drawing in the air of the reach his school will have someday. He speaks often of his inspiration, the greatest of Indian educators, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). He recited some of his poems in Bengali. Tagore himself started a great University.
There was a night driving back from Babar's school. Babar's father was smoking cigarettes profusely, exaggerating the sounds of his inhale and exhales. He speaks in broken English. He leaned towards me, the lights from passing cement trucks hitting his face. "Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high, where words come out from the depths of truth." A quote from Tagore.
"Talim" is a story about three friends who set out on a journey 8,000 kilometers across India. 2.5 months. These are the stories of the people they met.
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