Review: “Writing with Fire” Tells the Inspirational Story of an All-Women Indian Newspaper | Movies


Meera, (right) the chief journalist of the Indian newspaper Khabar Lahariya, and Suneeta (second from right) interview a woman in a scene from the documentary “Writing with Fire”

L. Kent Wolgamott

In the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, an activist newspaper, like all newspapers in the world, is trying to go from print to digital while publishing stories that no other media will cover.

It investigates police inaction in the face of sexual assault, the failure of government programs to, among other things, install toilets in every home, deteriorated or non-existent infrastructure and the rise of Hindu nationalism under the strong prime minister. Narenda Modi.

That, in itself, would be courageous enough. But Khabar Lahariya is made up entirely of women, mostly Dalits, who in the Indian caste system are “untouchables”, mostly outcasts who are among the most discriminated against in Indian society.

Khabar Lahariya’s journalists, however, are not discouraged and, as can be seen in “Writing with Fire”, are having an impact on the lives of those they write about and on India more broadly.

Directors Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh cover Khabar Lahariya’s first 12 years very quickly, using text to tell a Cliff’s Notes version of the story of the journal which was founded in 2002 and has continued to grow in influence and size until ‘in 2016, when the film picks up the story.

At its center is Meera, the hardened senior journalist from Khabar Lahariya, who has worked with the newspaper since its inception. In addition to fearlessly pursuing stories, Meera is in charge of the digital transition, which means, in part, that she has to teach women, many of whom do not have electricity in their homes, how to use phones. who will capture the video to go to the newspaper’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

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