Jungle Cry won the ‘Best Film’ (Jury) award at the Dada Saheb Phalke International Film Festival 2021. This real life story highlights that nothing is impossible and promotes how education, sports helps eradicate poverty and evokes a sense of patriotism. Helmed by Sagar Ballary of ‘Bheja Fry’ fame and Prashant Shah of Bollywood Hollywood Productions, it chronicles the journey of 12 underprivileged children from Odisha, students of Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), who go on to win the prestigious U-14 Rugby World Cup in England.
The Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival is a not-for-profit, non-commercial & India’s only independent film festival, established in the year 2011 with a mission to celebrate the cinema & work of aspiring, young, independent & professional filmmakers. The festival is important for Indian film industry as it is organized on April 30 each year to mark the birth anniversary of Late Shri. Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, regarded as the father of Indian Cinema & fondly remembered as Dada Saheb Phalke by the film fraternity.
I am very glad with the success of Jungle Cry, a movie on how KISSians won the U-14 Rugby. Championship in England braving all geographical, cultural and strategic barriers in 2007. I feel so happy that KISS, which was established for tribal children empowerment and enablement through education, also focussed on sports as a tool for empowerment and transformation. As early as 2005, we introduced Rugby, knowing well that tribal boys and girls would pick up the game really well. In 2007, our boys team that represented India created history and since then KISS has promoted and popularised the game of Rugby all over India. This unique achievement of KISS is beautifully depicted in Jungle Cry.
I vividly remember the day when we got the passports of these 15 students in hand. Our students had never travelled beyond Odisha. For them, the glance of an aeroplane flying high in the skies and running after it till it was visible was only thinkable. We had to write to Ministry of Home Affairs to get their passports and visa in a record three months – back in 2007 when digitization had just begun. Before the children left for England, we hosted a get together to motivate them where we gave them the passports. I took proper care to get them groomed by taking in the nearby Infosys office, where they learnt how to use lift, table etiquettes, toilet habits and certain lessons on body language. Regular soft skill classes were given to them for functional conversations.
“Come back as you are going. See that you take care of yourself.” These were my words while they were leaving instead of a war cry. I remember facilitating all sport gear and equipment, official suit and dress for them ( suit, tie, shoes). I gave them currency in pounds to spend and also provided the coach with international roaming sim card for taking daily update. All the students and staff of KISS watched the final match together. When the team won, we all danced in ecstasy. All were so happy when the team came back victorious creating history. Since then, Rugby has become not a part of life, but life for students at KISS.