With kahanimovement.com, a project launched by Indian-American brothers Sanjay Gupta of CNN and Suneel Gupta of Mozilla, and similar to journalist David Isay’s storycorps.com, that dream is beginning to take shape.
The non-profit project is aimed at encouraging cross-generational conversation between Indian immigrants and their family members and was launched at the Seventh Annual Indian Film Festival in Los Angeles on April 21.
The project is asking young Indian Americans to record interviews with their family members and then post it on the website. They can also post photos, writings and audio clips.
“Take the time to sit down with the parents, grandparents and get their stories. These are powerful, amazing stories. Everyone can be a filmmaker, everyone can tell stories,” says Suneel Gupta, who has been working on the project for more than one-and-a-half years.
When Sanjay’s child was born, the brothers wanted her to know about everything in their family history, the way her grandparents came to US, their struggles, and their successes.
While the Web site feature several stories already, Suneel will be posting his own shortly. He says it is about his mother Damyanti Gupta who was the first female engineer to work at Ford Motor Company in Troy, Michigan. It was 1963 and Damyanti Gupta was looking for a job. Without hesitation, she walked into the all-male Ford Motors. When the told her they had no female staff on board, she said, “If you don’t begin with me, then you may never have that benefit.”
Roopa Singh, who lives in New York, says, “I am a 1-1.5 generation Indian American. Passing down narratives was always core to our culture. Now that the passing down has been interrupted by the sheer scale of adjusting to new homes, new languages, new children it is crucial that we have a portal to gather our narratives.”
But not everybody is so enthusiastic. Journalist Tejinder Singh, who is based in Europe, said such projects are not able to sustain themselves. “Such sites are helpful for finding brides and bridegrooms. They tap into those connections through them,” he said.