A heart-warming story of a mother and her daughter
‘Counting Stars’ is a heartwarming story about a complicated relationship; showcasing a bond between a nine-year-old girl, grown up before her time, and her mother.
Countries: Czech Republic, India
Writer: Iva Radenkova
Director: Maanavi Bedi
Cast: Eliska Slansky, Hana Skálová
In our day-to-day lives, many of us are prone to get swallowed up in our own personal problems that we become blind to the misfortunes of others around us. Even if our problems are smaller than someone else’s, most people tend to live life with blinders and only see what is immediately in front of them. ‘Counting Stars’ show us one such story.
The story is about ‘Bava’ and her mother ‘Sonia’, who earns her living by working as an escort. Despite Sonia wanting to keep her daughter away from getting influenced by her job, she inadvertently ends up getting her clients some and mixing her family and work life. Due to these unfortunate circumstances, Bava had to mature much earlier than other kids of her age. She does laundry, cleans the bathroom and even prepares food for her mother, all the while also attending the school and doing her homework. But in the movie, we can see clips where Bava longs to be a kid, an average kid with a normal family. In the convenience, she quietly spies on the grandma showing off her granddaughter to the shopkeeper while beaming with pride and love. Bava also passes the game stand while gazing fondly at the toys lined inside and the other kids who get to play. But, Bava realizes that she is different from those other kids. She has to be an adult in a child’s body yet she is still a child no matter what.
Even though Bava’s mother, Sonia, initially comes off as a promiscuous woman who is a bad influence on her, she is actually very strong and loving woman and mother. She cares about Bava deeply. She does not want Bava to follow her footsteps and wants to work hard to at least break the endless cycle of poverty for her daughter and give her a good life; a different life.
Sadly in many countries and societies, the poverty-prostitution goes hand-in-hand and is extremely difficult to break out off. The children born to these families get very few chances to live a better life. There is trauma caused by lack of familial and societal support. Kids of prostitutes are treated differently compared to other ‘normal’ kids and this haunts them long after they start leading a new life. But more often than not, these kids are forced to follow the same path or have no other option but to follow the same path as their parents.
Bava’s case seemed to still be based in a society/country with a higher standard of living but in developing countries prostitution has infected the society like a parasite, it keeps growing and growing and swallowing all those who come in touch with it. In these societies, once a woman enters into prostitution, it daunts her and her future generations and closes any other path for them. There is also the problem of the rampant spread of STDs among these women because of lack of awareness of sexually transmitted diseases as well as a dearth of resources or options to buy preventive measures like condoms or visit a doctor. Most of the time, these women are made to feel guilty about the choices that they made just to survive and are mocked and segregated from society. Their deep sense of guilt and sense of being a pariah from society forces them to further follow or continue down the wrong path.
I was truly surprised by the situation of some of these prostitutes in one such developing country through a documentary on Al-Jazeera. Bangladesh’s biggest brothel:
I was afraid that the story would go down a similar depressing path. Thankfully, it did not.
One day, Sonia accidentally discovers Bava is getting influenced by her profession and trying to be more like her work image. Sonia realizes that she had been neglecting Bava and had been only focusing on her problems and worries. She had had her blinders on. Sonia then makes amends by trying to spend more time with Bava as Bava’s mother rather than as Sonia the escort.
The plot of this film also reminded me of the beautiful song Clean Bandit – Rockabye ft. Sean Paul & Anne-Marie. I feel this song also runs along similar lines with this short film. I feel even Sonia is a mother who is willing to do anything to look after and raise her child and provide a better life. But, many of these women and their kids end up being discriminated against for trying to survive and make ends meet or because of whom they are associated with. I feel it is the time that society stops judging people for something like this and instead lend a supportive hand to those who wish to escape these lives.
Eliska Slansky has played the role of adorable Bava flawlessly! I also love the fact that ‘Counting Stars’ is a wonderful Czech-Indian collaboration. I highly recommend this short film. There are not many dialogues in it, but acting is so well done that it does not need too many words to stir the emotions. Beautiful! This one word describes it all.
Have you seen ‘Counting Stars’? Did you enjoy it? Comment below! If you have not seen it yet, watch it on the YouTube!