As I rewatch and rewind our footage, I think how lucky I am to know Ajeet, and even luckier that he trusts Shaina and me to creatively share his stories. I think of a term we learned in my film class this year: privileged moments. A “privileged moment,” in documentary lingo, occurs when the filmmaker and the subject experience something new together. A director can provoke new thoughts by asking a question yet unanswered, or simply be there to listen as the interviewee tells a story for the first time.
Shaina and I experienced many moments so “privileged.” Ajeet took us to his personal project in the bedia community, where both the women and we experienced a profound realization. For them, realizing that women outside their village can finish their education and for us, that women inside their village needed to meet girls in college just to believe it was possible. Manju took us to her home, the SOS village where she was raised, and told us what sparked her dedication to Guria: growing up stigmatized as an orphan, she wanted to ensure that the children of the red light area didn’t have to. Anu, the teacher at the Guria NFE center, told us, “I have never thought about what will happen if Ajeet should die. But I will do anything to forward the fight of this organization.”
I write this on a day that I believe is very meaningful to Americans, but also to human rights activists everywhere. Ajeet draws much inspiration from Martin Luther King Jr. (in fact, he keeps a quote his on the wall of the Guria office) and although the entire speech is applicable to the way he runs the organization, this quote really sums up how we hope to portray the way Ajeet lives his life:
“We cannot walk alone. And as we walk we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”
When I asked Ajeet what he does when (if) he feels scared, he smiled and said, “Keep going. I just keep going. What else?”