A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The kids and teens featured in the movie live with next to nothing, but that doesn't mean that they don't dream or have goals or want to make things better for their communities. For the most part, only the adults who work with Amlan Ganguly see the potential these kids have, and that's enough to motivate these kids to step up and make their voices heard -- and make people see them as more than slum dwellers.
Positive Role Models
The featured tweens and teens live in unspeakably difficult circumstances, but thanks to the selfless mentoring and encouragement they receive, they're willing to speak their mind and make a difference in their communities. They choreograph dances, put on plays, take a census of their neighborhoods to make a map, and even lobby the government for access to clean water. Amlan Ganguly has made it his mission to empower these kids, to help them not be complacent about their station in life.
Violence & Scariness
An adult tells the story of being sexually abused -- raped -- when he was only 6. A young teen enters an early marriage and is said to be beaten and ridiculed by her parents. A young girl does back-breaking work at a brick field.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Revolutionary Optimists is a documentary that explores how children in India's slums are empowered to be agents of change. There isn't anything too edgy in the movie aside from one adult's story about having been sexually abused when he was 6, but the featured kids live in a state of squalor and poverty that's unimaginable to most moviegoers. Expect discussion of domestic abuse and child labor, as well as hunger and lack of education. But this isn't a tale of sadness; it's a story that will encourage kids to find their voice, take a stand, and lobby for their rights. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This moving documentary captures the lives of kids who could so easily give up -- life has dealt them seemingly insurmountable odds -- but manage to find in Ganguly a magical godfather of sorts. He's always ready with an inspirational story or a question to make the kids think. He's patient and kind and realizes what a messed-up world these kids inhabit -- one in which most of the greater population plays blind and deaf to their needs.
But these kids won't stay silent. There's young Salim, who's part of Dakabuko (The Daredevils) in his slum colony. He works tirelessly to make the government aware of his community's need for clean water. At one point, a UNICEF official jokes that if it weren't against child labor laws, he'd offer Salim a job; he's that passionate. There's also Salim's neighbor/best friend, Sikha, who fights for girls' equal rights and wants to start a coed soccer tournament. Kajal must work in a brick field as her family's sole breadwinner, but she wants to fight for her education. And beautiful 15-year-old Priyanka loves to dance but fears that early marriage is her only way out of an abusive, disinterested home. Not everyone gets a happily ever after, but the filmmakers show how all it takes is one person who believes in them for these children to rise up and have hope.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.