Doug Roland’s short documentary, Barefoot Empress, debunks the myth regarding old dogs and new tricks in the triumphal story of 96-year-old Karthyaynani Amma.
Set in Southern India, Karthyaynani Amma spent her days as a temple sweeper. For as long as she can remember, women were not allowed inside Indian temples. They were considered impure because they menstruate, and for Amma, the closest she could get was just on the edges of the property to sweep. Then, in 2018, the Indian Supreme Court struck down the ban on women in the temples, which sparked riots. Women were beaten, and the Temple had to be purified constantly after they left.
“…asking if there were any children who needed an education. Amma said yes…”
Amma describes her story as sad… a difficult life without sympathy. She had no one except her faith in God. But her life changed when an education official knocked on her door, asking if there were any children who needed an education. Amma said yes, and she became the oldest student in school. Barefoot Empress shows Amma in school with classmates the age of her great-grandchildren. The students encourage one another toward success, and suddenly Amma is full of life.
As a documentary, Barefoot Empress is pretty standard, with an ample amount of talking head interviews and in real life footage of Amma in action. Let your subject be the star, and Amma certainly shines through her inspirational story of hope. It’s never too late to accomplish grand goals in life.
"…let your subject be the star, and Amma certainly shines..."