A ray of hope behind the bars! A documentary by an independent film maker from Himachal Pradesh traces the ‘present’ of prisoners, for whom ‘reforms’ have brought some light at the end of the tunnel.

“They are living in different world. For how long? Many of them don’t know exactly. We have tried to document the ‘struggling psyche’, which has got positive expression with lot being done to engage them creatively and meaningfully in jails in Himachal,” Director of documentary ‘Behind the Bars’, Devkanya Thakur told The Statesman.

Shortly being released, it is the third documentary directed by Devkanya after ‘No woman’s land’ and ‘The Reddening Tree’.

The ‘No woman’s land’ on suffering of tribal women in HP, who are barred to inherit property as per customary law, has won recognition at the national and international level.

The documentary ‘Behind the Bars’ has been produced under the banner of Himalayan Velocity headed by Pushp Raj Thakur.

Shooting of the 52 minute documentary was spread over 15 days at Open Air jail Nahan, the model central jail Kanda near Shimla and Kaithu in Shimla. It revolves around 12 case studies (of prisoners), mostly lifers and goes on to interview a woman prisoner, an engineering student and a doctor in jail. Going with the theme, the documentary runs in dark background.

“The idea came from the movie ‘Do Ankhey Barah Haath’ on reforms in jail. But it took me a long time to develop the concept as it required research from field,” said Devkanya.

The documentary shows jail inmates busy making bakery products, weaving mufflers, jackets, marketing, pursuing education and getting the freedom to express creatively whether it a painting on walls or writing poems. “We did not go in their past. Some were in repentance, loneliness and broke out in tears when we spoke to them in jail. Some were upset as to why they are taken culprits for ever with society objecting even if they smile. But their eyes do reflect gratitude over the opportunity being given to them to learn, earn and pass time positively within the confines,” she said.

The documentary puts spotlight on a doctor learning weaving on a handloom and an illiterate, for whom the jail opened the doors of education-He is now doing a course from Indira Gandhi Open National University (IGNOU) centre, the facility provided by state. 85 inmates in Nahan jail alone are enrolled with IGNOU.

“I hope this realistic depiction will go a long way in understanding the vital issue,” said Director General of Police, Somesh Goel, who holds the additional charge of prisons department, while releasing the promo of the documentary.

Goel is credited with giving a push to jail reforms in Himachal over last two years.