Pedaling to Freedom

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Pedaling to Freedom
Bicycles in India 07.jpg
Girls bicycling along street in India.
Directed by Vijay S. Jodha [1]
Produced by PSBT & Prasar Bharati
Written by Vijay S. Jodha
Starring N. Kannammal, Sheela Rani Chunkath
Music by Pradeep Kotnala
Cinematography Sanjay Agrawal
Edited by Vijay S. Jodha
Distributed by Syncline Films Pvt. Ltd.
Release date
  • 23 August 2007 (2007-08-23) (India)
Running time
28 minutes
Country India
Language English/Tamil

Pedaling to Freedom (2007) is a 28-minute documentary[1] directed by Vijay S. Jodha. The film shows how a simple thing, such as teaching women to ride a bicycle in a deprived part of the world, can have a life-changing impact. The documentary was made in English and Tamil.


Pedaling to Freedom is a documentary film set in Pudukkottai district of Tamil Nadu, India. The film revisits a year-long initiative that took place there in 1993, in what used to be one of the poorest parts of the world.[2] As a result of this initiative 230,000 people learnt to read and write, and over 100,000 women learnt to ride bicycles. Wages increased 1000%. It happened in the space of just one year and cost less than one and a half dollars per person. The film relies on archival stills, filmed footage as well as interviews with those who were associated with the project.

Kannammal, an insurance company office assistant who took leave from work to volunteer for the project is featured prominently.[3] She served as a central coordinator and at the end of the project, went back to her office where she remains an office assistant.[4]

Mobility was seen as an important tool for empowerment and in addition to reading and writing, women were taught how to ride bicycles. The film captures the conditions in the district including cycling classes for women where men often gathered to crack jokes and taunt women trying to learn cycling. The film highlights the partnership between public and private bodies as well as work of 25,000 volunteers that made it possible.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pedaling to Freedom". festivalfocus. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  2. ^ "Illiteracy in India -Targeting Women in Tamil Nadu". UNESCO. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  3. ^ "Books and bicycles empower women in Tamil Nadu". United Nations. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  4. ^ N. Kannammal. "From Life Insurance to Literacy for Life" (PDF). UNESCO. Retrieved 2012-11-04. 
  5. ^ Anuj Kumar (14 December 2007). "The making of a cycle". The Hindu. Retrieved 2012-11-04. 

External links[edit]