Queen of The Beach – From Rags to Reading and ‘Riting

India, a beautiful country to check out. Ho boy, this pandemic has gotten to me. Maybe I should travel. 

Or maybe I should try to regain my review skills after all these interviews.

Despite the natural beauty of the land, India has a lot of people struggling. One person in particular is a young girl named Sonia Poojah who is working hard to make up money because she’s very poor. Despite no education, Sonia knows a fair amount of education, from learning on the beach. Child labour laws are a lot more different over there, and Canadian filmmaker Christopher McDonell decides he has to learn about this girl, and her business associates to see how they’re doing. During that time, the filmmaker also helps out with Sonia’s little business to make sure it develops the right way. Originally planning to shoot another documentary, Chris got sidetracked by this little girl and made it his mission to see her again. When Chris returns roughly a year later, and Sonia has a lot of new changes. Sonia has changed her name to Shilpa, and her grandma is around on account of her mother’s broken hand. Chris learns more about what’s been going on for their business, and once again offers to help them out, especially since their new boss is probably the worst of all time. Chris also gets to check out Shilpa’s home where her auntie runs the house. He also speaks to customers who state what it feels like to pass these businesses. As the trip progresses, Chris learns not just about culture and how the business works, but the hazards and ramifications, thus making him want to help her out more. He ends up returning again and sees some new struggles, specifically among Shilpa and her family. Despite Shilpa not being in school like her siblings, she cares for them and shows no sign of jealousy. As Chris inspects more into education, we learn that parents are uneducated and feel its a burden for kids, but on the contrary, it’s highly important and some people are trying to make schooling more important. At the same time, Chris buys them new appliances which makes them beg for more items, like a TV and some floor tiles. Chris also decides to get the help of an educator named Ravi to enrol Shilpa in an educational program. However it takes days for Ravi to come over, and Chris has to resolve a much bigger issue at hand. The issue being is getting Shilpa to go to school, when it’s something she doesn’t want to do anymore. For someone who used to crave education, she refuses believing it to be impossible. However, she eventually gets into some form of education, and her teacher recommends school for her high level of intelligence and ability of speaking multiple languages. After 5 years of no contact, Chris finally gets to meet Shilpa again, and that is when he discovers something that is the most surprising of all. Okay, maybe not so much surprising, but certainly very urgent. And then things change… for the best?

Queen of The Beach explores the lifestyle of India, the hardships of working as a young kid and even getting education, among other things. The interviews recorded are genuine, and make you feel sympathy for Shilpa’s family. The shots of India are really well made, and it seems like the most high quality of equipment was used for this documentary. While the whole thing was made by just one man, but it still looked very professionally done. With the help of some executive producers and a lot of love from an Indian family, the film turned out to be one of the most inspiring stories I’ve ever watched.




Queen of The Beach premieres August 10th. Keep a sharp eye out!


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