Kamera, a 2011 short film in Hindi directed by Nijo Jonson, is a moving narrative told from the perspective of a young boy Arjun. The film was selected as the winner of the National Short film festival of Nagpur in 2011, and has also been the official selection for several international film festivals.
The first look at the protagonist of the film presents a familiar sight, as it is reminiscent of the young and agile street performers who never cease to capture our attention when we stop for a few minutes at traffic lights or amidst the hustle and bustle of local trains. Perhaps, we have all come across these young, talented artists at some point in our busy daily routines. Occasionally, we have found ourselves smiling and waving at them, even throwing a coin or two their way in a rare, generous mood.
This film, however, makes us face a facet of their lives we conveniently choose to ignore in our brief encounter with them – their dreams, their aspirations, their disappointments and the endless struggle behind the smile pasted/drawn on their faces as they constantly try to make us laugh with their unpolished acrobatic skills. Arjun, the lead character of the film, becomes the lens through which the action of the film is presented to us. He is a lively, cheerful boy who dreams of becoming a joker in a circus so that he can make people laugh, but is held back by his mother who wants him to work in a garbage dump to earn money. His mother is shown to be a bitter, dejected woman whose husband has left her, and who challenges her son to make her laugh when he tells her his dream.
In the course of the film, Arjun finds a camera, while sifting through the junk, which gets him instantly excited. The camera, or “kamera” as he calls it, is not just a toy for him. It gives him renewed hope and confidence, even making him believe that he can make his mother smile through it. However, his happiness is short-lived as his mother sells it away along with the other stuff he has gathered from the dump. The viewers cannot help but feel Arjun’s frustration, distress and helplessness as he desperately tries to look for the camera, and in a moment of utter helplessness, cries at the loss.
Soon after, inspired by a white mouse Sheru, who he is shown playing with in the opening shot of the film, Arjun gives himself a new direction by turning his hands into a camera, vowing to click pictures with it until he earns enough money to buy a new one. With great difficulty, he takes his first step towards fulfilling his desire, as he finally succeeds in making his mother smile, deeming it to be the most beautiful smile in the world.
The end of the film will surely give you goosebumps and move you to tears as it presents snapshots of smiling faces, perhaps concealing similar stories of pain, heartbreak and dreams shattered by circumstances. The film boasts of remarkable performances, well supported by interesting camera angles and a soothing soundtrack that echoes the sentiment of the story and the sensitivity of the subject.
Kamera has been produced by Nijo Jonson and Rohit R. Gaba, with story, screenplay and direction by Nijo Jonson.