My Street - My Life is a highly experimental fictional film accompanied by a powerful film score.
It is set in the middle of New Delhi, India, where street children live amidst the hustle and bustle of a typical market street.
The film is heavily based upon reality and the children acting in this film are the real street children from the area - this is their street. They have no acting experience nor education, but have spent many afternoons watching the cheap matinee screenings of old Bollywood movies at the run down theatre in one of the side streets.
During filming, the children followed the directors' instructions and improvised around them as they pleased, telling the story of a few typical days in their lives. This style of acting resulted in the cinematographer having to be prepared for sudden changes of plan and direction, improvising alongside with the street children.
The film is subtle yet strong. No great glamour is added, nor any great tragedy. The film remains true to the lives of these street children - they hope, they try and they fail.
The project started as a 10-15 minute short, made mostly for the benefit of the children. The immediate benefit was that the acting and being filmed brought some novelty and excitement into what can be monotonous days.
However, in the deeper sense the project was first and foremost an attempt to help the children understand that despite the harshness of their highly underprivileged existence on the streets, they do still have choices, and that the choices they make greatly affect their lives.
We have known these children for several years - the oldest boy we have known for 11 years. Older street children often become a 'lost generation' as far as NGOs are concerned - it is much easier to help a child that has not been living on the street for too long than rough teenagers like the ones in this film. My Street - My Life aims to motivate these children, to empower older street children to improve and take control of their own lives in a more positive way, however small that improvement might be.
The project developed from the intended short into a 1hour 30minute low budget feature film that retains several visual aspects of documentary filmmaking.
My Street - My Life is full of colours and life, so vivid that at times one can almost smell the odours of India. The imagery is accompanied by a film score of striking original music combining traditional sounds with modern beats, written by Ken Barrett.
In addition to offering a highly authentic insight into the lives of street children in India, this film also gives a very accurate impression of daily life in a busy Indian bazaar with continuous movement and an abundance of life.