Tina Thadani Is Shining A Light On The Inconsistent Education System In Mumbai

a3 Filmmaker Tina Thadani sheds light on the inconsistent education system in Mumbai

SHE MAY LEAD A GLAMOROUS LIFE, BUT CANADIAN-INDIAN TV presenter and actress Tina Thadani recently put her creature comforts to bed to delve into the troubling education system in Mumbai, India— where education, or the lack thereof, is a low priority—and made it the subject of her recent documentary. Chosen to screen at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival as part of its Short Film Catalog, The Leftovers revolves around two women who have left their reputable jobs to open makeshift schools in the heart of Mumbai’s slums. It also follows their trials and tribulations with the lower class community (who know that education is the only way out for their children) and highlights The Angel Express Foundation, where Thadani now volunteers to teach English. “At the end of the day, documentary filmmaking… chose me,” she says. Here, she discusses the film’s intention and why this story demanded to be told.

It is our responsibility— as humans, as people, as influential entertainers —to use our voices wisely.

Tina Headshots138175 (4)What made you choose the disparity of the education system in Mumbai as the focus of your documentary? Whenever I had free time, I have always volunteered in Mumbai. There was a school in my area that would always need volunteers, so I would go in and help in any way I could. The experience opened up my eyes to discern the education disparity that exists. It has been a moving journey for me.

What was your takeaway after creating the documentary? Was your initial intent the same as what you achieved in the end?
My takeaway from creating this film was to learn that education for the underprivileged is not just an Indian issue, but a global issue—one that requires more attention and more action. It has to be addressed on a larger scale.

Do you think your work as a TV presenter in Mumbai was able to help you highlight the problems there?
Utilizing the influential platform of acting, directing, celebrity, TV, movies and social media gives me a voice [that may have] a farther reach. I see that it’s definitely helped in spreading the message of The Leftovers. I had a chance to share a bit about my film on the TV network I work with, B4U. [It] caters to audiences all over North America and Europe. It is our responsibility—as humans, as people, as influential entertainers—to use [our voices] wisely.

How are you personally getting involved in trying to fix this problem?
Initially, I started just volunteering on my own time with these children. My small role in it all so far has been via holding a few charity events for these schools and contributing new school supplies. However, now the goal is to take things one step further and align with the United Nations or UNICEF.

Are you currently working on anything else, like another documentary? If so, what will the subject matter be?
There are so many causes, especially in Mumbai, that I aim to cover. For example, the inspiring stories of the girls who have changed their lives around, amid the trappings of the red light district. Another interest is the transgender community and how [it is] changing the stigma of society. For me, it’s just about planning my time wisely so that I may continue evolving my purpose-driven documentary films, presenting my show and exploring global projects. This is really just the beginning.