Documentary dreams: Unveiling the fascination and power of authentic storytelling: Rhea Bakshi

Documentary dreams: Unveiling the fascination and power of authentic storytelling: Rhea Bakshi

Empowering artisans: Research paper on their challenges and solutions

Rhea Bakshi

Mumbai: The vibrant and bustling markets of Jaipur have always been a paradise for silver jewellery enthusiasts. Rhea Bakshi, a 17-year-old economics student at Delhi's Shri Ram School, these markets hold a special place. Her maternal roots are in Rajasthan, she has been a frequent visitor to these markets since her childhood and has always been captivated by the silver jewellery she encountered and purchased.

This year she directed a documentary film, titled “Indian Treasures inspired by this market and her passion for an inclusive economy and sheds a spotlight on silver jewellery artisans from all across the country.

The documentary was chosen as a finalist in the Best Student Film category by the New York International Film Awards, a monthly Film and Script Competition with a public screening held every three months in the heart of Manhattan, New York. While it didn't secure the top prize, Rhea is content that the film succeeded in bringing the livelihood concerns and the struggles of these artisans to a global platform, gaining recognition from a wide audience.

This 20-minute documentary takes an in-depth look at the fascinating journey of India's timeless traditional art forms, particularly silver jewellery, and sheds light on the lives and challenges faced by Indian artisans. From the narrow lanes of Jaipur, where artisans reside, to the village of Jharkhand, home to one of the oldest metalworking traditions, "India's Treasures" beautifully captures the dedication and struggles of artisans who are committed to preserving India's rich heritage. Whether it's the exquisite art of Meenakari in Jaipur or the delicate filigree work of Jharkhand, these artisans are tirelessly carrying forward these traditional art forms, many of which are at risk of fading away. For instance, take filigree, which was originally introduced to the state of Odisha by the Mughals during their rule. This intricate metalwork, utilizing silver wires, demands precision and skilled craftsmanship. Over time, it made its way to Jharkhand, where Senthal women adorn themselves with delicate filigree earrings, continuing this exquisite tradition.

Rhea is a highly motivated individual with a deep-rooted passion for economics, astrophysics, and music. She finds immense joy in exploring the intricate workings of these fields and uncovering the connections that exist between them. Her journey in these disciplines has not only broadened my intellectual horizons but has also fuelled her desire to make a meaningful impact in society.

Economics captivates her intellectual curiosity and drives her professional pursuits. With a strong background in economics, she is dedicated to leveraging her skills and knowledge to make a positive impact in this field. Rhea’s passion for economics is complemented by a project experience including a documentary, research paper, internship, workshops, and articles, where she collaborated with Indian artisans, promoting their empowerment through inclusive and sustainable economic growth. spoke to Rhea Bakshi, about the documentary and what inspired an economics student to venture into filmmaking and much more…..

On being a young filmmaker what made you want to do this documentary

The reason I decided to focus on handmade silver jewellery for this documentary is because of my grandmother's profound connection to Jaipur and the captivating world of silver craftsmanship.

My grandmother, who is incredibly dear to me, shared enchanting stories of Jaipur, a city renowned for its vibrant culture and history. Her stories and the cherished silver jewellery she possessed became a bridge connecting generations, linking her past experiences with my present and, I hoped, with the future of these skilled artisans' craft.

Furthermore, the documentary aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of inclusive economic growth, a crucial element in his mission to elevate India to the status of the world's third-largest economy. It highlights the significance of sustainable development, wherein every individual can contribute and earn while having equitable access to resources and opportunities.

On being impressed by the new Vishwakarma Scheme for Small & Medium Enterprises, how did you go about researching for the documentary

My first step towards working with the artisans was writing a research paper on their problems and offering my recommendations. I conducted several interviews with artisans and read many other resources such as research journals. I extensively researched the past and present government policies and their updated impact on the recipients.

On what made you choose Rajasthan

I chose to make a film about Jaipur's silver makers to honour my family's love for the craft and to support PM Modi's goal of helping everyone succeed together.

My film talks about mostly Jaipur,( also covers Jharkhand and Delhi), but I think its message is important for everyone, everywhere. I believe our shared experiences connect us, no matter where we're from. Through my film, I want to share stories from Jaipur that can touch people's hearts all over the world.

On being an Economics student, and done a course on Physics and Technologies of the Future from Columbia University what made you get into filmmaking that to a documentary

From a young age, I've been captivated by documentaries. They have a unique power to transport us to different places, share authentic stories, and educate us in the process. As I grew up, I began to realize the immense influence that films and television can have in capturing people's attention and delivering vital messages.

I got into filmmaking, particularly documentary filmmaking because I believe it's a powerful medium for storytelling and raising awareness about important issues. My background in economics and my coursework in physics and technologies of the future from Columbia University have given me a unique perspective. I realized that by combining my knowledge in these fields with the art of filmmaking, I could create compelling documentaries that explore complex economic and technological topics.

Movies have a unique ability to elicit emotions and connect viewers with the characters on screen. I aimed to harness that power, enabling audiences to experience genuine emotions of love, understanding, and care through the real stories of artisans in India. These incredibly skilled individuals often remain unnoticed, and I wanted to shed light on their talents and challenges.

In essence, my documentary is not merely a film; it's a fusion of in-depth research, heartfelt emotions, optimism, and a call to action. It's an earnest appeal to everyone to extend their support and appreciation to the artisans in India and make a positive change in their lives.

On looking at other states now as a follow-up for this documentary

Yes, I'm considering looking at other states as a follow-up to my initial documentary. India is a land of immense diversity and a rich tapestry of cultures and traditions. Each state has its unique set of artisans and craft traditions, and I believe there are countless untold stories waiting to be shared.

By exploring different states, I can not only showcase the incredible variety of artistic skills and traditions but also shed light on the specific challenges and opportunities that artisans face in various regions. It's an opportunity to delve deeper into the cultural and economic dynamics that impact these communities.

Moreover, extending the project to cover other states would allow me to reach a broader audience and promote a more comprehensive understanding of India's artisanal heritage. I hope to continue raising awareness, inspiring support, and celebrating the remarkable talents of artisans throughout the country.