For my young subjects, the very fact that I was creating a documentary about them will have an impact. Though I was careful not to give the boys any impression that they were in any way "larger than life," there is naturally a tendency to feel "special" to be chosen as subjects of such a project. The best I can do is minimize my profile and impact on the individuals I'm profiling.
For "Bollywood Steps," that means a small crew (my crew generally was limited to myself and one other person), a low-profile camera, and little else - aside from the formal interviews in the documentary, I generally depended upon natural and existing light. It's also my responsibility as a documentarian to make certain that I don't impose myself on the situation. In my opinion, I have no right to insist on my subjects - or anyone in the environment - to behave unnaturally or even unusually accommodate my presence. In reality, most people will be willing to give the filmmaker what he or she wants and accordingly. As often as I can, I try not to telegraph my intentions.
It's impossible to measure the impact my camera brought to the situation at hand. I do know that everyone concerned became more at ease as I continued to shoot the documentary over the eight months or so that I spent. Time will tell as I bring the film out to a growing audience.