Fistful of Dreams is an ongoing project that begins by following the life of a five-year-old dark-skinned girl named Palguni, from the moment she is adopted by her new family. The five-year-old's new family comprises of a single mother and another adopted daughter. Palguni's story is about being born as a girl in Indian society where exists strong prejudices based on gender and race. It is about being loved as much as it is about being unwanted. It is about hope as much as it is about loss. It is about her right to life and its simple aspirations.
India has a long history of violence against the girl child, female infanticide and foeticide. The 2011 Indian population census findings indicate that more and more girls are being killed in India even before they are born. The strong preference for male child still continues. Also, India is a nation that worships white skin, a hangover of its colonial past, perhaps. In such a context, life is an obstacle course for little girls like Palguni.
Fistful of Dreams aims to foreground the larger issues of gender and racial discrimination in India through Palguni's story. It hopes to build awareness and create a strong wave of public opinion to safeguard the rights of girls in India.
Nishant Ratnakar is a photographer and filmmaker based in Bangalore city, India. He left his career in software development to pursue photojournalism. In 2008, he was among the 30 Asian photographers selected for a free photography workshop held at Siem Reap, Cambodia, as part of the Angkor Photography Festival. In 2010, his maiden short-film, 'Err-Bane Truth' won the Lost Lakes of Bangalore video contest. In 2010, he was awarded a full scholarship to pursue a Diploma in Photojournalism from the Asian Centre For Journalism at Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines. Currently, he is the Chief Photographer at DNA newspaper in Bangalore. His primary interest is in social documentary photography, and he is pursuing many long-term independent projects on issues close to his heart. He is an avid blogger, multimedia junkie, and a believer in new media. He strongly advocates that photographers embrace newer modes of dissemination for their projects.