Over 50 Indian journalists have been killed since 2014, making India one of the most death-dealing countries in the world for reporters. In Uttar Pradesh in the northern section of the country, large numbers of Dalit ("untouchable") women are victims of the country's catse and male chauvinism systems.
In the face of this daunting reality, a group of Dalit women set up their own newspaper in 2002 and since then they have not only been reporting the news, they have been making news as they fight for justice. Their newspaper, Khabar Lahariya (meaning Waves of News), stands out as India's only all-women news outlet. This documentary chronicles their decision in 2018 to pivot to digital journalism in advance of national elections.
Chief Reporter Meera has stated:
"I believe journalism is the essence of democracy. When citizens demand rights, it is us journalists who can take their demands to the government. This is how one fights for a democracy and journalists must use this power responsibly. Otherwise the media will become like any other business."
Using their smart phones to make on-the-spot videos, Meera and her journalists courageously report on issues such as criminal corruption, the mining mafia's failure to provide safe working conditions, public sanitation, and the negative political talk of those running for office. They cover stories of violence against women, which is rampant in their part of the country, making the scenes of a single courageous woman reporter surrounded by men especially impressive.
The dangers they face getting their stories are matched by other challenges. Meera, married with children, has to maintain a household while juggling all the responsibilities of leading a team of journalists. Suneeta, one of the star reporters, is forced to get married without knowing whether her husband will let her continue to work. Shyamkali has never used a cell phone or written a story. Team meetings show the experienced reporters mentoring the younger ones.
Directors Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh take us behind the scenes of Khabar Lahariya, giving us such a positive portrait of its people and its goals, that we found ourselves cheering with joy at the news that by the time the documentary was finished, the newspaper's YouTube channel had surged to over 150 million views. And it's going strong today!