The inspiring story of how a Kolkata slum girl suffering from epilepsy fought against all odds to become karate champion and train other women to fight against violence is now part of an international documentary.
A crew led by director Koen Suidgeest from Netherlands is presently shooting the film ‘Girl Connected’ in the dingy bylanes of Beniapukur where the black-belt Ayesha Noor, 19, lives.
Her tale is part of an hour-long documentary being made by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) of USA as part of the Women and Girls Lead Global initiative to highlight stories of women empowerment.
“The most appealing part of her story is that she has not only made herself independent but has also started giving Sunday classes voluntarily on martial arts to other girls. She is also empowering others,” the filmmaker said.
Noor has been giving free training to women on karate every Sunday morning at Ladies Park where even married women and those in ‘burkha’ participate.
“I train them so that they are empowered on their own to fight against crime, violence and rape,” the girl said.
The film would be screened in different parts of the world to inspire other women. It shows how a girl from a poor background, who had no money to get trained and suffering from epilepsy, rose to the top because of her sheer talent and hard work.
Noor has won three gold medals in international championships so far. The last one was during 2015 in Thailand where 40 nations had participated.
“Her disease of epilepsy is her biggest challenge as the family hardly has money for even two square meals. She could not even continue her studies in school because of that,” her coach MA Ali of the Indian Karate Association said.
A crusader of gender rights, she had lost her father six years ago and now lives with her mother.
“What is also amazing in her story is that she lives like a very ordinary girl even after all this international success she had. She helps her mother in household chores and lives in a small 8 feet by 8 feet room,” the director said.
Besides her, four other girls from Bangladesh, Kenya, Peru and Jordan have also been selected from all over the world to narrate their own stories in the documentary.
The tale from the neighbouring Bangladesh is about 14-year-old Latifa who not only desisted her own early marriage but also started a task force to protect other girls in the village from getting married off early.
The film would be ready this April and would then be screened in different parts of the world.