M3 Features

From Redlights to Hollywood

September 23, 2013

Hurdles cannot block your path if you are destined for a turn around. Avijit Halder started a tough life, being born in a brothel to a drug-addict father and an ailing mother who passed away during his early teens; he has now stepped into a different world – a world of hope.

A graduate from the New York University (NYU), Avijit recently bagged the opportunity to work as an assistant director in a Hollywood project - Dan Baron's 'Basmati Blues', a musical on a US genetics company exploiting Indian farmers starring Donald Sutherland and Brie Larson.

The tale of success had its inception 9 years back during the making of Oscar-winning 2004 documentary 'Born into Brothels' directed by Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman. Avijit was among the eight children, born to sex workers, who featured in the film. They were taught to take photographs as a part of the project to document their lives and their surroundings in Sonagachi - Kolkata's red light district.

Little did Avijit know then that the camera in his hand will become his ticket to Hollywood. The photographs captured by Avijit earned appreciation. The film-makers set up a charity called "Kids with Cameras", to help Halder and the other kids with their education. Exhibitions were held in Calcutta and in New York which brought them to the limelight. Auctions were even held at Sotheby's to raise funds.

Avijit got a golden opportunity to study in a school in New Hampshire in 2005. The sudden change in atmosphere, culture and language was challenging but the enthusiastic boy took the challenge for a better tomorrow. Intrigued by films, he was accepted by NYU for film making course and he graduated as cinematographer in 2012.

Halder worked as an assistant director in Dan Baron’s ‘Basmati Blues’, a musical on a US genetics company exploiting Indian farmers starring Donald Sutherland and Brie Larson. Amid the post-production frenzy, however, he is yearning to be home for the Pujas and spend time with his sister and granny.

Durga Puja is always on his mind around this time of the year. "I have missed the Pujas for eight years now. That’s one of the biggest reasons I regret being in America. Yes, there are celebrations here but nothing as grand as in Kolkata" Avijit said.

Surely, the road to success has only begun for this shutterbug; his story can be an inspiring tale for many for Avijit’s in Sonagachi waiting for a chance to showcase their talent.

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Comments (2)
 
Krishnendu Dey Reply
September 22, 2013
It is talent, and sometimes destiny, which play bigger roles. Luck usually comes only if one has the desire and hunger inside.
Anish
September 22, 2013
Agree with you. But if the documentary film makers wouldn't have given a chance to the boy for clicking photographs his talent could have been hidden for rest of his life. May be he himself wouldn't have realised. I think he was destined for this life. The connection with those people did the wonder.
Anish Reply
September 22, 2013
This young boy will go places. People may say its luck which landed him in this path.I would say it's his destiny.
 
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