Puppeteer Anurupa Roy and Aditi Mediratta, who worked as an associate writer on films like “The Dirty Picture” and the “Once Upon A Time In Mumbai” franchise, have collaborated to tell the story of a girl Anurupa met while the girl migrated on foot along with her family and others, back to their villages amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
“The girl in the pink frock” is about an 11-year-old girl whom Anurupa met on March 23 this year, two mornings after the lockdown was announced, which saw thousands of workers walking back to their villages.
The girl was with her parents and her brother, and they had been walking from Manesar in Haryana to Uttar Pradesh. She was wearing a beautiful pink frock, probably her best dress. Anurupa met them while handing out food packets.
Later Anurupa told Aditi about “the girl in the pink frock”. Aditi was taken in by the thought of this little girl, facing this challenge head on, dressed in what felt like an armour of strength, spirit and optimism — a pink frock. She asked Anurupa if she could write her story. From there on, Aditi imagined the world and the heart of the little girl Sitara and wrote her story.
Once the story was done, the perfect medium to tell it seemed to be through paper puppets. For Sitara’s journey, Anurupa started to draw the scenes and the puppets. These were simple paper cut outs.
“I met a little girl in her best pink dress during a food drive in Delhi. I don’t know if she and her family reached home. This film is made for her and the thousands of workers walking home from the big cities who failed to give them any security during a pandemic to their villages where they hoped they would have enough to eat and a roof over their heads. The pandemic in India has only revealed the crisis that always existed – the crisis of security and poverty of the large ‘invisible’ work force the cities of India depend on, but don’t acknowledge or care for,” Anurupa said.
With the pandemic and the lockdown, Aditi was feeling very anxious, so when Anurupa told her about the girl in the pink frock and how she could not get her out of her mind, “I asked her if I could write the story of this girl, this girl who was so brave that she put on her pretty pink frock and faced what was probably the biggest crisis of her life with so much spirit. I wanted to escape into her head for a while and be a child again and just know that no matter what life throws at me I can take it”.
The film is available on Anurupa’s YouTube channel.