Being a journalist and covering the outline of various social issues was not enough for city-based documentary film-maker, C Vanaja. This is why in 2004, after around 12 years of journalism, she decided to shift to the medium of documentary film-making to talk about various social issues that she strongly feels about. And, her latest film, Platform No.5, revolves around the lives of three teenagers from the Secunderabad Railway Station --- their life on the platform and more. “As a journalist I came across various social issues, but could not go deep into them. That’s why I shifted to the medium of documentary film-making in 2004. I made Platform No. 5 for the Public Service Broadcasting Trust last year. And chose this particular subject of kids living on streets/platforms because I wanted to see how personalities of such children shape up in the absence of two key institutions --- home and school,” explains Vanaja, whose film has not only participated in various film festivals, but also won accolades like the Best Documentary award at SCRIPT International, Kerala and Best Livelihood Film award at CMS Vatavaran, New Delhi.
“I started working on this film during the summer of 2011,” recalls, the film-maker, adding, “And, I spent around five months with the kids before I started shooting the film.” Vanaja used to visit the railway station at 5 am and spend time with kids till about 12 noon for about five months and began shooting once the children were comfortable coming in front of the camera. “Those kids primarily collect empty bottles from the station and sell them till 12 or 1 pm. After that, they watch movies, and have fun with their friends,” she says.
Even though Platform No. 5 is an attempt to portray the lives of those millions of children who live on the streets without a home or school, under constant threat and danger, Vanaja believes that she has made an attempt to make the 26-minutes film look lively. “The film is about three happy-go-lucky children, who have fun everyday, despite the kind of lives they lead. I don’t like making victim films. This is why I have added humour in this. I didn’t want the audience to feel sympathetic towards these kids. The idea was to make sure that when people look at kids on the street, they treat them as humans and smile at them,” signs off Vanaja.