My Barefoot Friend

Seong-Gyou Lee, South Korea, 2010, color, HDcam, 93'
Synopsis

Shalim is one of the 10,000 rickshaw drivers who pull their live cargo barefoot through the streets of Calcutta. At 50, the tawny Shalim is by far not the oldest: his colleague and friend Husein is already 75. South Korean director Seong-Gyou Lee befriended Salim and spent a long time following him, literally in his footsteps. Negotiating his way through the merciless traffic in the overcrowded and colorful Calcutta, where trains regurgitate new fortune-hunters on a daily basis. Shalim works hard for his family and his dream: to buy a motorized rickshaw, so that he can earn better money and ultimately purchase a house. But reality is tough, and sickness in his family ensures that his hard-earned money melts like snow under a warm sun. My Barefoot Friend reveals how the penniless rickshaw drivers, who also live under the threat of a law that would forbid their profession altogether, do their utmost to stay afloat in a merciless society. Their friendships, dreams and families are what keep them going. Besides being a portrait of Shalim and his colleagues, the film offers a delightful look at a major city that exerts an irresistible attraction on both Indians and foreigners, despite all its problems.

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