Shred Shreedhar’s internationally acclaimed film Reena Ki Kahani is a heart-wrenching tale of human trafficking
The film was screened at the recently concluded Mumbai International Film Festival 2022
It’s been a long time since slavery and servitude have been abolished legally. But they still continue to exist in different forms such as human trafficking. Young girls and women are still sold as commodities for prostitution. These girls are often roped into the sex trade from impoverished areas of India and across the borders. We got a closer look at this dark reality in Shred Shreedhar’s short film Reena Ki Kahani, which was screened at the recently concluded Mumbai International Film Festival 2022.
The nine-and-a-half-minute-long animated film shines a spotlight on the horrors of human trafficking, and the agents who lurk amongst us, always on the prowl to trap their next victim. Based on the true story of Reena, the film traces her path from being a girl with big dreams to her entrapment into the flesh trade and subsequent rescue. And Shred has successfully showcased the heinous tale while also highlighting the life-threatening work of the rescuers from different NGOs. “I was creating a video-based tool kit to create awareness about this crime. During the course of it, the real-life accounts of rescue operations shook me, making me realise the remarkable work that they do, often at the cost of risking their own lives. I thought if the tool kit is supported by a film narrating the real-life story of entrapment and rescue, the message would be far more powerful,” says Shred, who completed this short yet demanding film in six months.
The film presents the topic in a more palatable way through animation combined with bright colours and sounds. The movie will touch your heart with its depiction of these vulnerable women. Although the film has the plot of luring women with false promises of a better life and throwing them into prostitution, which we have seen many times before, the film highlights ways to detect and avoid such situations. “The message of caution and advice had to be communicated alongside the perils of this dangerous racket in a manner that would spread the message without instilling fear. The animation was, therefore, the most suitable visual language to present the story and reach its audience,” explains the director when asked why he chose to narrate the story through animation.
With the aim to reach many adults, children and caregivers, the film presents the message of hope with minimal dramatisation. The director tells us that the subject was handled sensitively since it is a real-life story. “We had to be true to the story without falling into the creative urge of making it dramatic. Moreover, we had to keep the identity a secret, making sure not to divulge any personal information about her while presenting her story in its true form,” says the filmmaker.
Made in collaboration with Shred Creative Lab and Vihaan, an anti-human trafficking NGO, Reena Ki Kahani has already won several international awards including Best Animation Film at the Mykonos International Film Festival, Greece, Crown International Film Festival, UK, 2nd Kerala Short Film Festival, 2 11 17 International Film Festival, Chennai and recently the Mumbai International Film Festival.