Lakshmi and Me

India 2007, Documentary, 59' | Director, Screenplay Nishtha Jain | DoP Nishtha Jain, Deepti Gupta, Rakesh Haridas | Editor Rikke Selin Lorentzen | Sound Subhashis Roy, Indrajit Neogi | Music Mads Nordheim, Mangesh Dhakhe Production Deckert Distribution GmbH

When Lakshmi came to work for me, she was all of sixteen. Dignified ? that's one of the first things I remember about her. Bright eyes in a dark face. She was a wiry bundle of energy, all smiles, beautiful. She didn't talk so much in those days. Her standard response to my requests or instructions was: 'Yes, elder sister!' As I got to know her better, I realized that she didn't always intend to do as I asked. But she definitely knew how to please me, her employer.
Nishtha Jain

In India - even in a metropolis like Bombay - old feudal attitudes still govern relationships between employers and their servants. Against this backdrop, Nishtha begins making a film with Lakshmi, her part-time maid.

"What sin did I commit to be born a woman?". The 21-year-old Lakshmi has been working since she was ten years old, up to fourteen hours a day, seven days a week. Yet there's never enough money to feed herself, nine brothers and sisters and her alcoholic father. Illness and romance compound her problems in unexpected ways.

Nishtha films Lakshmi at home and at work in various houses. During a year and a half of dramatic changes, the process of filming has its own impact on unfolding events and on the relationship between the two women. As the film-maker is drawn deeper into Lakshmi's life, she is forced to look at aspects of her own self as well and to question many of the things she takes for granted.

Lakshmi an me was produced with the support of the "Steps India" initiative.


Nishtha Jain is a graduate from the "Jamia Mass Communication Centre" in New Delhi. She started her career as an editor and correspondent for video newsmagazines before joining the "Film and Television Institute of India" ("FTII"), specialising in film direction. Nishtha Jain works as an independent film-maker in Bombay.

Nishtha Jain