New Delhi: A soldier who reads letters instead of wielding gun in a battlefield. A midwife who plans to do rituals to become a mother herself. Ordinary men fighting for women’s rights and gender justice in a patriarchal society. Cinema is all about finding contrasts and diversities. When directors of three non-feature films came together for a media conference at the 50th International Film Festival of India, contrast was the underlying tune. Vibha Bhakshi, director of ‘Son Rise’, Nitin Singhal director of ‘Letters’, Kirti, director of Mamatva participated in the media conference.
Elaborating the theme of her documentary film ‘Son Rise’, Vibha Bhakshi said that gender violence is not an issue of Haryana or India only; it is rather a global reality. Men and women need to stand in solidarity to fight it together, she said. She further added that it was from the unlikeliest place of Haryana which has the most disturbing statistics when it comes to crimes against women that she found her heroes. “ I found ordinary men who do extraordinary things to change the narrative on gender inequality and gender justice’, the director said. She credited the people of Haryana who dared to break their silence to talk about gender issues.
Director of ‘Letters’, Nitin Singhal said that his film was hugely inspired by actor Dev Anand who used to read and censor letters before becoming an actor. “The film portrays the emotions of soldiers in battlefield through letters. It is a tribute to the soldiers who kept the hopes of their families alive through their letters. Inspirations from real letters written by soldiers all over the world have been used for the film”,he explained.
Replying to questions, Nitin Singhal said that the format of the film depends on the content and budget and the way a director wishes it to be told. It is high time we start to differentiate between a good story and bad story instead of categorizing films as feature, non-feature or mainstream, he pointed out.
Sharing the idea behind ‘Mamatva’, Director Kirti said that she tried to explore the darker side of the emotion of motherhood through this film. It follows the journey of the protagonist Rema who comes to understand the meaning of motherhood. “ Where there is no education or facilities, there are many myths surrounding motherhood and pregnancy”, she said.
Set in Italy during the Second World War, the film is about a young soldier from British India named Dev Pandit. He didn’t have a gun, nor did he drive a war tank or explode bombs. His job was to read and censor letters. Through his characters, the film dwells into the letters written by the soldiers to their loved ones back home and the importance of letter censorship.
Director of this film Nitin Shingal left a corporate job to pursue filmmaking. He has worked with Yash Raj films and Vinod Chopra films and directed three shorts : Kindle, Rice Bowl and Raaya and a feature film.
In Eastern Uttar Pradesh, a lower-caste woman is the mid-wife of the village. When her younger sister-in-law gives birth to a son, she strongly yearns to be a mother herself. She plans to do a ritual which involves taking bath by sitting on the baby to attain motherhood. She abducts the baby but fails to perform the ritual as true motherhood evokes within her. Though she returns with the baby but nobody believes in her story now. The family disintegrates and the baby gets separated from her. She now sings lullaby for him from far away.
Director of this film Kirti is a B.Tech graduate who worked with a bank before learning direction and screenplay writing at SRFTI (Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute) Kolkata. She is now writing her first feature film ‘Matilana’ (The soil wall).
Directed by Vibha Bakshi the film follows ‘ordinary’ men doing the ‘extraordinary’ work in their struggle for women’s rights and gender justice. From a forward-thinking village chief and father of two daughters, fighting for women to enter the male-dominated area of local-politics, to a farmer who in an arranged marriage, defies society by marrying a gang rape survivor. The infamous skewed girl-boy sex ratio in Haryana may have resulted in an unprecedented rise in crimes against women. However, all may not be lost this film says.
Vibha Bakshi earlier directed ‘Daughters of Mother India’ (2015), winner of the National Film Award for Best Film on Social Issues.