Techie assisted Horse and Rider
By Hitesh Shetty
Techie Grace Nethala, who has studied Computer Science at Osmania University, India as well as at Virginia Tech, USA, was invited to assist in the post production work of the critically acclaimed, award winning film ‘Horse and Rider: Journey towards Freedom’ by Ben Stamper Pictures in association with Freedom Firm, and her life changed forever. Techgoss caught up with Grace.
Techgoss (TG): Tell us about your Educational Qualification and techie background?
Grace Nethala: Both my undergraduate and graduate degrees were in Computer Science with Electronics as a minor. Undergraduate degree was from CBIT (Osmania University), India and graduate from Virginia Tech, USA.
I started enjoying my career in technology only after I discovered my love for Finance. My first full-time job was to develop and support Risk Management applications for Equities trading floor. Then I switched to back office technology in Investment Banking domain.
TG: How did you get involved in the world of movies? What message does the film 'Horse and Rider' try to convey about child prostitution to the audience? What kind of responses have you had from the audiences worldwide?
Grace Nethala: It was timing and a lot of connections coming together. I knew about Freedom Firm way back in 2006 and I got to know Ben Stamper (director) through a mutual friend. We talked about the upcoming film and he asked me if I would like to help with the post-production work. I did not have to think twice!
“Known is a drop. Unknown is an ocean” – Avvaiyar, a Brahmin Poet. The content of this proverb is a perfect summary of the vision of the film, which is to say that no matter how much we think we know (about an issue such as sex-trafficking), we can only ever know a little, but there is a vast extent we don’t know about. We have no idea how much these young women are capable of -- in terms of living meaningful lives full of love and compassion. Horse & Rider is that cinematic pilgrimage from Ooty to Mumbai to Calcutta with riveting firsthand accounts from former victims and family members.
Our hope is that after watching film, the audience might possibly dare to ask the question in earnest: “How, then, shall I live?”
The film speaks to different people in different ways. So far, we have had incredible responses from the audience. Some were educated, disturbed, profoundly inspired and even devastated.
TG: How did you juggle between the target oriented IT job and creative world of movie post production arena? Which of the two actually gives you the feeling 'If given a chance I would love doing it for my lifetime without any hesitation’?
Grace Nethala: It was a challenging - but I thrived while managing my time between project deadlines, translation work and being there for my family who was visiting me during the same time. Though I tried to make it most social events, that was not my priority and so I saw very little of my friends.
That is a tough question. I love both and I need both i.e. working in Technology for financial services and the little bit of creative work I get to do.
I have the appetite for both these domains and I am so lucky I get to see and spend time with people of opposite worlds. I would love to keep juggling as long as I can.
TG: Which other aspect of filmmaking besides post production would you like to try your hand at?
Grace Nethala: I don’t enjoy being in front of a camera or even behind one. So that eliminates most production roles. But I do love editing. I love how our minds can visualize a story in minute detail and put them to life one frame at a time on film. Editing would be it.
TG: What accolades and recognition have come the ’Horse and Rider' way till date?
Grace Nethala: Horse & Rider officially won the Award of Merit for feature documentary at the Accolade Competition 2012. H&R was also selected for Central Michigan University International Film Festival and received rave reviews from the Directors of the Festival. Our team members are constantly featured in interviews, Justice Forums and magazines. Check out for more news at this link
This is just the beginning! We just finished about 29 submissions to film festivals around the world and are keeping our fingers crossed.
TG: What steps should the Indian government take to curb the horrible menace of child prostitution, so that it never raises its ugly head again?
Grace Nethala: I completely agree with Rod Green who works with Freedom Firm and is involved on a day to day basis, in that: The Indian government should really focus on enforcing the laws they already have, which would really help curb human trafficking by creating a deterrent. This could be done through special units, which have begun to be implemented in certain places in India. Specifically, the Indian government could also make bail conditions stricter for those arrested under the ITPA act (the anti-trafficking law), which would ensure their presence in court. At the moment, the accused simply don't show up to court, so the trials get delayed for years and years and no one does anything to ensure justice is done.
TG: IT-BPO is one of the most educated, richest demographic in India? How can this specifically help? Are they helping at all?
Grace Nethala: This powerful and growing demographic of IT/BPO employees can help in many ways:
- STOP THE DEMAND! Men should be motivated to stop their demand to brothels. “Real men don’t buy girls” – right?
- Get educated about anti-trafficking organizations and conduct an approach like rescue, prevention or aftercare – whichever they resonate with. Freedom.firm.in is a great example of such organization.
- Invest in the organizations with your time and money. If this cause moves you, start volunteering your time and donating. These NGOs don’t run without finances. They need all the support they can. Check out some ways to involve with Freedom Firm:
- Write to your police station or local judge with a petition of influential people in your area that demand more action is taken to ensure justice against criminal networks who are traffickers and help protect victims.
TG: In the absence of any well-funded research, it would be hard to quantify the extent of this crime in tech hubs like Bangalore, Hyd, Pune, Gurgaon etc. What is your sense of the extent of this problem in tech hubs?
Grace Nethala: Yes, it is vast. Children aged anywhere from 10-14 are smuggled from Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Nagpur, Calcutta into brothels. The cities in Karnataka are sources for transit destinations for sex trafficking on a large scale. There doesn't seem to be a sense that the demand for trafficked minors or women is linked directly to the Tech profession, however, it is clear that instances of trafficking are higher in cities where there are large populations of young male professionals and labor forces who are away from their families.
TG: what is your next creative assignment?
Grace Nethala: I am humbly hoping that Ben Stamper will let me work with him on his next film which is a comedy! That will be huge!?