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1 National Award, 1 Don Quixote Prize, the Aravindan Puraskaram, 14 prestigious national and international awards and being recognized the most critically acclaimed film of the year. This has been the success story of I am Kalam – the feature film produced by Smile Foundation. But this is not all!

After travelling over 30 international film festivals and humbly accepting all the accolades and awards it was showered with, I am Kalam was theatrically released nationwide on August 5th. And it went on to be a favorite with even the most critical Indian film critiques and was applauded by them as one of the best films of the year. In short, the film entertained one and all. But this is just the beginning of a journey. The journey of Sending Every Child to School! The journey that Smile Foundation set off on, as early as the very conceptualization of the film.

The objective that Smile Foundation had conceptualized the film with, was to reach out to people around the world drawing their attention to the cause of giving education to every child that is born in the world as his/her birth right. Smile was aware of the fact, that the world is already exposed to extraordinary content, and plain appeals would not stand a chance in grabbing their attention.

 

Keeping this in mind, Smile Foundation, proactively took the initiative and the challenges therein to come up with a mainstream Bollywood film.

To ensure the film reaches individuals, authorities, groups and communities at all levels, both in urban as well as rural and outreach areas, Smile Foundation, partnered with its strong network of 2500 schools across the country, 100 colleges, 50 apex management and technical institutes, 75 corporates and 160 NGOs. To extend their support for the film and the cause it was promoting, Centuryply became the presenting partner, Surya World became the associate partner and Essar Foundation became the corporate cause promoter. Apex media players like Star News, BIG FM, Amar Ujala, Andpersand, Laqhsya, Creations, Live Media, bollywoodhungama.com and Exchange4media also partnered with Smile for the film thus extending the much needed support from the media fraternity. Genesis Burson Marsteller Digital, Ybrant, ETBitscape and 160by2 provided their support for promoting the film and the cause on the digital and social media platforms. In addition to this there were many eminent organizations like IndianOil, HUDCO, VLCC and Alliance Francaise to name a few, that came forward to support Smile Foundation in this noble initiative.

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Smile Foundation has always believed in channelizing the energy, enthusiasm, intelligence and competence of the young minds of the country towards bring about sustainable social development. Therefore, Smile partnered with 100 colleges and 50 apex management and technical institutes of the country for sensitizing the youth for the cause the film promotes. And in return got an overwhelming support and participation from the apex educational institutions of the country like the IIMs (Ahmedabad, Calcutta, Indore and Lucknow campuses), FMS Delhi, IMT Ghaziabad, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, XISS Ranchi and IIT Delhi and Kharagpur campuses, to name a few.

Among the many achievements of this film, are also some of the special screenings that were done to ensure the film reaches people of all levels and social standing. I am Kalam was screened especially for the former Indian President, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, at his Delhi residence. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam is the inspiration behind the film and it was screened to him to take his blessings before its theatrical release. On watching the film, Dr. Kalam highly appreciated it and asked Smile Foundation to ensure that it reaches rural schools and colleges too.

In addition to this, the film was also screened for the adolescent inmates of Tihar Correctional Institution, Delhi. The screening was done with special permission from Shri Neeraj Kumar IPS – Director General of Prisons. This film is the story of fighting against difficult circumstances and never giving up hope for a better future. Smile Foundation believes that these young people convicted with various degrees of crimes are only victims of unfortunate and difficult circumstances and wrong guidance. Given an opportunity, they would certainly try and make a better future for themselves just like the rest of the youth of the country. Smile therefore screened the film for the adolescent inmates with a hope that the positivity of the film sparks positivity in the lives of these troubled youth. I am Kalam was also screened for the Dabbawalla Sangathan of Mumbai. The Mumbai Dabbawalla network is admittedly one of the biggest strengths of the city. And thus, as a special gesture of thanking them for their indomitable effort, Smile Foundation organized a special screening for them. Along with over 500 dabbawallas, Shri Yamuna Sakaram Ghule, President of the Dabbawalla Sangathan was also present for the screening.

From being the first feature film ever to be produced by a development organization, I am Kalam went on to become the most critically acclaimed film of the year. All the acclaims and accomplishments the film has received so far, have been primarily because of the cause it propagates – children’s right to education and freedom from illiteracy. The film’s success proves that the cause of children and their education brings together people across the globe irrespective of their age, gender, taste and ethnicity. It is a cause that both, deserves and needs, the support of people because education of children will ensure a brighter future not only for them but for each one of us.

 

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