Docpoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival


Rooms of Shadow and Light

The prostitutes of Bombay live a nightmare life, yet there are some people who try to bring a little light into the darkness of the brothels. The film follows the lives of women in two brothels in the slums of Bombay. Some of the women are old, some are very young, but they have all been cheated into the business. And cheated out of life. For ten years now, Vinay, a social worker, has been trying to help them by saving them from AIDS and giving them some comfort. Although they are degraded and exploited outcasts, these women manage to retain some human dignity and cheerfulness. And some hope.

Production notes

He believes his efforts can change something, and he loves the girls and women in the small rooms of shadow and light.

The same basic human love emanates from the film. This has demanded great respect, a distinct filmmaker’s viewpoint and an appreciation of cinematic language that not only depicts the lives of poor Indian prostitutes among the dregs of society, but also conveys the emotion that these women endure their fate through humour and by caring for each other.

Director John Webster successfully lets us look at this world of poverty and hopelessness without making us feel like intruders. The women talk to the film crew with a trust that must have been established over a long period of time.

Tue Steen Müller, Modern Times Review

Content warning: pedophilia

Original Title: Valon ja varjon huoneet
Language: Hindi
Subtitles: English
Length: 60 min
Age Limit: K12
Year: 2001
Production Country: Finland

Director: John Webster
Screenplay: John Webster
Editing: Jukka Nykänen
Cinematographer: K U Mohanan
Sound Design: Pietari Koskinen