Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman’s “Born into Brothels” is a lengthy documentary that shows lives of seven children growing up in the squalid red light district of Sonagchi, Calcutta. Briski and Kauffman focus on the everyday lives of these children which include: drug addiction, abuse and beatings, rage and apathy that perpetuate their misery. “Born into Brothels” by Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman, is a documentary that is overflowing with symbolism. Photography is exposed throughout the documentary; the role of photography is to portray the opportunity that has been granted to these children for them to express themselves.
The painting they would engage in was a way for these children to express their emotions through the paintings; Avijit was quoted when he said “I like to draw pictures because I want to express what’s on my mind… I want to put my thought into colors. ” Photography and painting was these children’s only way to express their true inner feelings; and that is why it is emphasized throughout the documentary.
Briski symbolizes the children’s escape from the Brothels, a brighter future, and the only way out of their misery.
Tone sets the mood in every movie, documentary, book, poem, etc. “Born into brothels” expresses a hopeless tone, because these children feel so loveless, bleak, and so many emotions that are portrayed in the documentary that break the heart of the viewer. Lack of hope is not only captured by the viewer, but also expressed by these children. “There is nothing called hope in my future” said Avijit, this makes the viewer feel sympathetic but at the same time hopeless; hopeless because one wants to reach out and find hope in the future of the children such as Avijit but cannot.
Sympathy is also a tone that is also depicted in the documentary as you see the depiction of overpopulation, deteriorating environment and crowded living conditions. The symbolism portrayed in the documentary can be compared to educators, because both bring hope in the lives of children. Educators play the same role that Briski, photography and painting played in the lives of these children in the Brothels. Educators bring hope, faith, a brighter future, and a second chance for many; which is what Briski represents in “Born into Brothels”. Without Briski, these children would have never found a way to xpress there pain, misery and sorrow; without educators we cannot grow, expand our knowledge, and we too would be hopeless. “Born into Brothels” is a documentary that stepped out of the norm, and truly expressed what life in the brothels is about. Briski’s courage helped mold and empower many of her photography prodigys. One of the greatests strength Briski had was her willingness to follow in the path that the project might have taken her. Briski embraces her subjects with sober, practical, optimism, the kind that heals even if it did not fix everything it desired to.