Normally it is our filmmakers, who are served PILs (public interest litigations) by disgruntled citizens. In what could seen as a historic reversal of the relationship between cinema and the nation's collective conscience, director-actor Faruk Kabir, who has made a film on juvenile crime Allah Ke Banday, is all set to file a PIL against the Indian government for serious lapses in the laws governing remand homes.
Says Faruk, "During my research for Allah Ke Banday, I had to visit several remand homes repeatedly. I was shocked to see how these homes, meant to be shelters for young wayward kids, were being managed. Let me tell you, these homes are not going to reform the kids. They will only encourage them to become bigger criminals."
Knocked down by spasms of guilt, Faruk has got together with his cast members Naseeruddin Shah and Sharman Joshi to file a PIL against the administrative teams that run India's Juvenile Remand Homes.
Says Faruk, "What I saw in these remand homes made a terrific script for my film. But I didn't want to treat these troubled and abused kids I came across as 'slumdogs'. I didn't want to come away from their lives with the feeling that I've just exploited these wretched kids for my film and then forgotten them. I've to take my interest in these kids beyond my film."
Through the PIL, Faruk intends to ask the Indian government some basic questions about the remand homes across the country.
Over to Kabir, "No counselling is being provided to the juvenile inmates, which leads them to be as misguided as they were in the outside world. Many a times, they become psychologically damaged for life. Innumerable cases have been seen where although sentenced for a year only, the inmates end up spending four to five years of their lives in remand homes because there is no provision for them to even know of their rights.
“The Government has no program to make the delinquents self-sufficient by teaching them professions that they can use once they come out into the world and not go back into crime due to lack of options. And there're no proper avenues for formal education for juvenile inmates when that is their right and the duty of the various government agencies to provide them classrooms, teachers, books, educational programs etc."
Faruk feels by challenging the Indian government, he would be fulfilling a duty beyond cinema. Says the director, "It's okay to be using these tortured lives to tell a gripping story. Having said that, don't we owe these wayward kids a chance to lead a decent life? Our remand homes don't allow them to grow. We need to change that."