‘Singing with Angry Bird’: A documentary about uniting low-income families in India

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Jae-Chang Kim, “Angry Bird,” with a parent.

Shot in the slums of Pune, India, “Singing with Angry Bird” is the story of a passionate Korean opera singer, Jae-Chang Kim who is nicknamed “Angry Bird” due to his temperamental personality, the children he teaches and their reluctantly supportive parents.

“Singing with Angry Bird” has its national broadcast and streaming debut on the PBS documentary series POV and pov.org on Monday, June 25, 2018 at 10 p.m.

The film focuses on three families and follows a 15-month journey from the parents’ first rehearsal to the final concert during which many challenges are presented by the lack of time, resources and near-tragic events.

But the music brings parents and their children closer together, providing a vibrant contrast to the parents’ work and daily grind.

Jae-Chang Kim, “Angry Bird,” dresses up a parent for the joint choir with one of hie students.

One of Kim’s students Sinduja’s parents, Ramalu Rathod and Alvela, are hardworking fishmongers and they don’t see the benefit of Sinduja singing on the choir and didn’t want her to participate in the joint concert, at first, but Sinduja does participate and urges her father to come to the parents’ choir rehearsal.

Rahul is a new member of the children’s choir.

His father, Hanumant Walikar, is enthusiastic about the parents’ choir and looks forward to the joint concert though a series of bad circumstances and needing to care for his sick infant granddaughter, keeps him away from the choir.

“I’ll be really happy if I can have a concert with my dad. I really want to sing with my dad,” Rahul says.

Jae-Chang Kim, “Angry Bird,” with a family.

Manali has been with the choir for three years.

She lives with her mother, Mary Pawar, and younger sister.

Her mom is separated from her abusive husband and raising her daughters alone, working three jobs to support the family.

In order to help her mother, Manali decides to quit the choir, but when Mary Pawar gets to sing a solo piece, she changes her mind.

“I skipped the choir for two months without telling anything to Sir Kim. My mother told me to join the choir again. She said, all the other parents are going to sing with their children. If you don’t come, I have to sing alone,” Manali says.

Jae-Chang Kim, “Angry Bird,” with his students and their families.

The documentary is directed by Hyewon Jee, who beautifully illustrates how the choir transforms the families.

“During the production, I was touched by many events and had a chance to reflect on my own relationship with my mother. I also witnessed the changes in the parents and their relationships with their children. Singing and dancing brought lots of joy and laughter and planted a seed of hope in these hardworking people. I am now very happy to share this story with a world audience,” Jee said in her director’s statement.

“‘Singing with Angry Bird’ beautifully shows how music can unite cultures and bridge the gap between generations. But the crowd-pleasing story of the Banana Children’s Choir will not only warm hearts but also expand minds—giving us a glimpse into other people’s livelihoods, hopes and dreams,” said Justine Nagan, executive producer and executive director of POV American Documentary.

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