We are the real dreamers

Project Why from Terrier Charlotte on Vimeo.

A few months back I got a mail from two globe trotters from France. They were passing through Delhi and wanted to spend two weeks at project why. To use Charlotte's words: we want to bring our smiles and share our time and do something for your children. Charlotte and Matthieu landed at project why promised smiles in place and a host of ideas one of them being to make  a film where the pwhy kids will be the stars. The song they chose was Imagine, John Lennon's moving Imagine. They also had plans to teach English and hold craft workshops with the small children. Ambitious? Read on.

They set to work in the most professional manner getting the words of the song photocopied. The idea was to teach one phrase of the song to different classes and put it all together. They had no idea what awaited them. It just took a day for them to realise that it would be a very uphill task keeping in mind the pronunciation of the kids, their poor singing ability and their self-consciousness in front of a camera and the shortage of time. It was soon decided that craft workshops and English classes would have to be abandoned. The film was a real handful. The first two days or so were spent in 'auditioning' and working of the 'script'! But then disaster struck. Charlotte was diagnosed with dengue. We all thought Imagine would remain a dream. Not at all. Charlotte, a real trouper, proved a mettle. The show would go on! In between blood tests, visits to the doctor, bouts of fever, the bane of rashes and drops in energy, she directed the show from the wings - in this case a bedroom in my home-. Matthieu followed instructions to the T and thankfully dear old Jon's  brilliant camera skills came to the rescue. After innumerable  takes and retakes - the maximum being mine - and so much footage as to saturate the computer's hard disk, the film was completed in time.

I do not know if it was the magic of Lennon's lyrics, the candid shots of the children, the terrible enunciation that actually became the film's biggest asset or the love with which the film was made: the outcome was enchanting and moving. It brought tears to my eyes. The words of a song so deeply entrenched in our minds took a totally different hue. It was as if each word was written for these children of a Lesser God who have nothing to offer in abundance but their smiles. I am sure Lennon who have smiled had he seen this clip. But there is something else they have that we hanker for: the ability to dream. When they see a plane flying they dream of being the pilot that flies it; when they sit next to their teacher and learn they dream of one day becoming a true educator and when someone in their midst dies for want of a doctor, they dream of becoming that missing doctor. Their world is one of survival, but a survival laced with dignity and smothered with smiles. They have no possessions and yet they are always willing to share the little they have. They, more than anyone else, give a real meaning to the haunting and enchanting song. They live for today. 

I cried when I saw the film. I cry every time I see it. Tears of joy, tears of pride, tears of compassion, tears of pain. I joined them long ago… will you join them too?

Thank you Charlotte and Matthieu for this very special gift. We love you!


 Imagine there's no heaven
 It's easy if you try
 No hell below us
 Above us only sky
 Imagine all the people
 Living for today...

 Imagine there's no countries
 It isn't hard to do
 Nothing to kill or die for
 And no religion too
 Imagine all the people
 Living life in peace...

 You may say I'm a dreamer
 But I'm not the only one
 I hope someday you'll join us
 And the world will be as one

 Imagine no possessions
 I wonder if you can
 No need for greed or hunger
 A brotherhood of man
 Imagine all the people
 Sharing all the world...

 You may say I'm a dreamer
 But I'm not the only one
 I hope someday you'll join us
 And the world will live as one