Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lucky Express: India's Forgotten Train Kids - DVD Review

I received DVD for review.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Film Synopsis:

Lucky Express is a full length feature documentary that winds through India’s railways and stations, in the company of destitute children who have made Indian Railways their vast network and home. Confiding their life stories, fears, hopes and dreams, these disowned and abandoned youngsters  astonishingly entrust their sobering reality to Lucky – former train station vagrant. Through him, we experience a rare and intimate connection, shaping the tone of the film.

Criss-crossing the plains of India all the way to Nepal, we wind our way up the foothills of the Himalayas in search of Lucky’s family. No one knows the exact number of abandoned and abused runaway children who have been forced to live their lives in the train stations of India. Social workers have counted up to two hundred children arriving at the larger stations every day.  According to UNICEF, there are approximately eleven million child runaways in India. More than 70% of these children are less than fourteen years old, and it is not uncommon to see children as young as three year olds among them. They work as soon as they are able to speak. With over 39,450 miles of tracks, 15,000 trains, 11 million passengers daily, 1.6 million employees and over 7,000 stations, Indian Railways is a universe unto itself—a seething, endlessly energized network through which pass all the diverse cultures of the subcontinent and its billion-plus souls. Why are they found at the train stations? The stations provide access to public toilets, water and—most importantly—leftover food and opportunities to make money. Children are involved in a variety of different work at the train stations, including begging, vending, rag-picking, performing for travelers, cleaning and sweeping, shoe shining, and selling refilled bottles of water. Bottle collecting is one of the most common enterprises: empty water bottles are abandoned by passengers, gathered by the children, and brought to local recycling houses, where the kids receive no more than a pittance for their efforts. At the very most, children might make 150 rupees (ca US$3) a day from bottle collecting—spent immediately either on food or on such goods as  glue for sniffing. Money can never be saved, of course; what isn’t spent is usually stolen by other children, by gang members or pimps. An estimated 90% of the children are engaged in substance abuse. These children are in constant danger. It has been estimated that it takes an average of twenty minutes after arrival at a station before a child is approached by an older sexual predator, or is offered drugs in exchange for sex. Some children have to prostitute themselves to gang members in order to ensure themselves a somewhat safe place to sleep at the station. Life is hard, a daily struggle to survive. As the children get older, their only chance of survival is to to join the gangs. Life at the train stations is as tough as it gets for a kid in India.

My Review:

Sometimes we are so busy in our everyday lives that we don't open ourselves up to the world that surrounds us.  Lucky Express opens us up to a part of the world where even basic necessities are fought for.

This documentary takes us on a harrowing experience of what life is like for children who have made Indian Railways their home.  You see first-hand what their lives are like and the struggles they face.  The documentary is told by Lucky, a former runaway child who lived on the platform for years.  Viewers get a feel of the harsh conditions and realities the children face.  You also see the organizations that are making it their effort to shelter the children.  This documentary is an interesting eye-opener that I absolutely recommend watching.  It will leave you with a new found understanding of  what happens to the train children of India.


Claremont First Ward said...

The images from the Documentary look amazing. Looks really great.

Masshole Mommy said...

This sounds really interesting!

Adaptable Kay said...

I love watching different documentaries and this one sounds like quite the eye-opener!

You're so right that we, as people, don't really stop and think about these things. That's why I love documentaries so much; they bring to light things like this!