Indian Women Rising joins hands with ‘Educate Girls USA’ to raise funds for the education of Oscar contending Bittu’s young Cast

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Indian Women Rising, a cinema collective founded by Ekta Kapoor, Guneet Monga, Tahira Kashyap Khurrana and Ruchikaa Kapoor Sheikh is collaborating with ‘Educate Girls USA’, an NGO founded by Safeena Husain to raise funds for the two young leads from the Oscar contending short film BITTU-Rani and Renu Kumari.

The collaboration has witnessed the support of Global icon Priyanka Chopra Jonas who gave a shout-out to the fund raiser event, standing in solidarity with the right to education for the young girls.

BITTU explores the close friendship between two schoolgirls on a seemingly normal day at school. Set in the against the backdrop of Himalayas, Bittu follows the story of an eight-year-old who must take matters into her own hands when her community fails to protect its most vulnerable.

The film has garnered critical acclaim and recognition for its distinct cinematography and poignant storytelling, BITTU’s strength is also its unconventional casting. The central characters of the Bittu and Chand are played by first time performers, who were casted from the local community in Uttarakhand where the film was shot.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas shares, “Bittu is moving, raw and real. It takes a devasting incident and presents it from a unique perspective. As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to help give it the attention it deserves. It’s a great example of how women supporting women can make anything possible and the Indian Women Rising Collective is proof of that and I can’t wait to see what they do next. Cinema the world over needs more women to bring their voices, stories and perspectives to the fore and this is one step in that direction. This fundraiser will help these 2 amazing young girls, Rani & Renu Kumari continue their education and pursue all the dreams and ambitions they have for themselves and I hope that many will come forward to help make this a reality.”

Prajakta Koli shares, “It is my absolute pleasure that I get to be associated with a beautiful piece of art like Bittu at whatever capacity. I have so much love for Guneet, Tahira and Ekta for always telling stories that touch your heart in ways unknown. Also, getting shortlisted for the academy is a tremendous feat and I am so proud of how content is evolving in our country.”

Elaborating more on this Karishma Dev Dube, director of BITTU adds, “This film exists because of the unforgettable performances of Rani Kumari and Renu Kumari. Without our two young leads, Bittu would never have the life span it currently does, representing India on global platforms such as the Academy and the Director’s Guild Of America. Regardless of their challenging circumstances, these little girls were consummate professionals, keeping up with the rigor of film production. When you watch this film, you will not be able to deny the fact that Rani and Renu deserve everything, or at the very least, a shot at life that provides opportunities that can help sharpen the irrefutable talent that already exists in them.

Today, Rani and Renu like many other children, struggle to stay in class. They are coming from a migrant laborer community who are especially hard hit during the pandemic. I am so grateful for Educate Girls and Indian Women Rising, who have come together to help us change the lives of these two incredible children and their families. If we can give them the life they deserve, then it would be the best thing we have achieved with this film.”

Indian Women Rising (IWR) in a joint statement shared, “BITTU is a special film and the two girls are its very soul. Performances of Rani and Renu in the film proved it that each child is gifted and just needs an opportunity to flourish. We are thrilled to collaborate with Educate Girls USA and raise funds to secure education and overall development of Rani and Renu. Education is the basic right of every child and it is our humble effort to bring a tangible change in the lives of these two talented girls.”

Safeena Husain, Founder of Educate Girls USA, highlighted, “Children need to get equal opportunities to access quality education. With this collaboration, we are trying to bring the vital importance of investing in girls’ education to the forefront. It is the best investment the world can make as it positively impacts 9 sustainable development goals, including health, nutrition, employment, even climate change. This investment also helps break the intergenerational cycle of poverty, patriarchy and illiteracy as an educated girl is more than twice as likely to educate her children.”

The fundraiser took place 5th March, 2021 and while the fundraiser prominently emphasized the importance of girls’ education, it also aimed to raise awareness about its related advantages on overall development of the girl child, including confidence, health and hygiene, her agency to decision making and empowerment.

Be sure to check out our rave review for Bittu.

About Indian Women Rising: Indian Women Rising is a Cinema Collective meant to discover, nurture and shine spotlight on the Indian female talent in cinema across the world. Spearheaded by four prolific women & industry stalwarts, Ekta Kapoor, Guneet Monga, Tahira Kashyap Khurrana and Ruchikaa Kapoor Sheikh, this passion project is born with a sole purpose of disrupting the status quo and amplifying the voice of Indian female film makers because now content is Queen! The collective truly believes that when one women shines, she opens the doors for many more – It’s time, women enable women.

ABOUT EDUCATE GIRLS USA: Founded in 2014, Educate Girls USA is a nonprofit organization that focuses on mobilizing resources to support girls’ education in rural and educationally marginalized areas to ensure that all girls are in school and learning well. Educate Girls USA partners with and supports credible organizations on the ground that identify, enroll and retain out-of-school girls, and improve foundational skills in literacy and numeracy for all children. For more information: alison.bukhari@educategirls.ngo

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