Anuja tells the story of an exceptionally bright 9-year-old orphan, Anuja (Sajda Pathan), who works with her 17-year-old sister Palak (Ananya Shanbhag) at a back-alley garment factory in Delhi, India. When a teacher shows up at the factory, promising Anuja the rare chance to attend an elite boarding school, Anuja finds herself facing external hurdles and inner conflict.

"We are proud to join Anuja as Shine Global's first foray into fiction film. The themes of child labor and girl's education are compellingly told through Graves’s and Mattai's beautiful storytelling and the exceptional acting of Pathan, drawing from her personal experiences.”

Susan MacLaury, Shine Global

"A portrait of the strength, imagination, and love between two sisters"

Cacky Poarch, Executive Director of deadCenter Film Festival

"This story took shape in collaboration with the community and it recognizes the vitality and ingenuity of two young women who, like so many kids around the world, face near-impossible odds.”

Aaron Kopp, Producer


Anuja explores themes of child labor and girls’ education:

  • 1 in 10 children worldwide is in child labor
  • In the beginning of 2020, a total of 160 million children were in child labour – an increase for the first time in 20 years
  • 79 million children were in hazardous work that directly endangers their health, safety and moral development.
  • Worldwide, 129 million girls are out of school.
  • When we invest in girls’ secondary education:
    • The lifetime earnings of girls dramatically increase
    • National growth rates rise
    • Child marriage rates decline
    • Child mortality rates fall
    • Maternal mortality rates fall
    • Child stunting drops

The film was developed in association with the India-based non-profit, Salaam Baalak Trust (SBT), founded by Dr. Praveen Nair. After her daughter Mira Nair’s film Salaam Bombay! exposed the harsh conditions of children living on the streets, Dr. Nair was motivated to make a difference in the lives of street and working children in Delhi.

Lead actress Pathan resides in an SBT home that provides shelter and education for girls formerly living on the street and brings her personal experience and passion for acting to the role. 


Anuja will make its festival premiere at the 2024 deadCenter Film Festival


Writer & director
Adam J. Graves

Suchitra Mattai
Krushan Naik
Aaron Kopp
Ksheetij Saini
Devananda Graves

Executive Producer
Michael Graves

Co-Executive Producers
Susan MacLaury
Albie Hecht
Alexandra Blaney

Akash Raje

Krushan Naik
Adam J. Graves

Community Consultants
Sunita Bhadauria
Devika Sharma
Pankaj Gupta

Fabrizio Mancinelli

Produced in association with Shine Global