The Hindu today, carried a story on how a photograph clicked by a news reporter ultimately changed the boy’s life:-
A news photograph, a life changer How a candid shot changed a ten-year old’s life forever – A photo published in The Hindu changed the life of a boy in Assam and fetched director Jayaraj global acclaim.
Author: P.K. Ajith Kumar
Little Ashadul Islam was surprised. He had no idea why these two strangers had come to meet him at his village of Kuchani in Morigaon district of Assam on this Friday morning.
But the 10-year-old was in for a bigger surprise.
One of the men presented him a gift and told him that he was going to sponsor his entire education. For ace Malayalam movie director Jayaraj, it was a meeting he was pining to have, for over a year.
It was Ashadul’s picture that The Hindu carried on August 22, 2014, that inspired him to make the critically acclaimed film Ottal. The frame had the famished little boy rowing to safety his family’s salvaged possessions, a few goats, on a small plantain-trunk canoe that he steered with a tree branch through the swirling waters, in an almost surreal setting. The movie bagged a string of awards, and also swept most of the major honours at the recently concluded International Film Festival of Kerala.
“I want to find that boy,” Jayaraj had told this correspondent sometime back. “I would like to help him in whatever way I could. Please help me find him.”
The image, clicked by The Hindu’s Guwahati-based Special News Photographer Ritu Raj Konwar, had made a deep impression on him and Ottal was woven around its stark poignance. Jayaraj had even replicated that particular frame in his movie, which won the National and the Kerala State awards.
“Meeting the boy today is going to remain a special moment of my life forever,” Jayaraj told The Hindu over phone from Assam. “I am going to take care of all his financial needs. Besides, the charitable foundation of which I am a part will look after the health of the entire population of this boy’s village.”
Ashadul, indeed could do with whatever help he receives. He comes from a very underprivileged background; both his parents are daily-labourers in a brick factory.
It was the photographer who took that picture who took the director to the boy. “Ritu had taken a print of the photograph with him,” said Jayaraj, winner of six National film awards. “We showed it to the villagers, and they led us to the boy’s father.”
Sometimes a picture is worth not just a thousand words. It could be a life changer as well.