Film opens London Indian Film Festival today (June 17)…
IN WHAT has to be one of the most powerful and stirring documentaries ever made on the subject of violence against women in India, campaigner Srishti Bakshi tells acv what led to her film, ‘Womb’ or ‘Women of my Billion’.
Opening today’s 12th edition of the London Indian Film Festival (June 17-July 4) as a world premiere at the BFI Southbank, the film is a remarkable document of Bakshi’s near 4,000km walk from the southern most tip of India – Kanyakumari to Srinagar in Kashmir, in the North.
She undertook this walk to bring attention not just to the extreme violence and murder perpetrated against women, but also the daily slights and difficulties many women face in India.
As she walked, she encouraged others to join her, held classes and carried out workshops and seminars helping both women and men to understand what equality should look like.
The journey took almost 2/3 of a year and began in 2017 and the film was put together by Ajitesh Sharma, who is the director of ‘Womb’ and joins us in this discussion about the making and purposes of ‘Womb’.
While there was a film crew following Bakshi’s journey, there was no intention to make an actual film or feature length documentary – they were simply there to film some classes, promote the walk and engage with audiences locally, while Srishti undertook the challenge of the walk.
It was only in discussions with producer Apoorva Bakshi, Srishti’s sister that Sharma began to work on a film about the whole journey and as he says ‘amplify’ the voices for change.
He also tells acv about three remarkable women whose stories are intercut with the documentary of the walk itself – Sangeeta, Neha and Pragya.
Their stories will make you cry and lament the men who caused them such pain and intense suffering – but all three have courageously come through the other side and are inspiring figures in their own right and deserve HUGE respect and give all a cause for optimism and hope.
Watch this documentary if you get the chance – it is a difficult watch in places BUT as the filmmakers say we must break the silence and change the narrative of discrimination, inequality, and violence to one of hope, optimism and dreams for women and girls everywhere…
London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) June 17-July 4 – http://www.londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk/
You can see ‘Womb – Women of My Billion’ at the festival
LIFF 2021 Preview
Postscript and Review (June 18)
MOVING, absorbing, painful at times, ‘Womb – Women of my Billion’ is in the end, a heart-warming tale of triumph and hope.
It holds little back – the opening scene is among the most uncomfortable in the one hour 42-minute film: we are quite literally thrown into a full scale domestic violence situation.
The woman says it is daily, constant and unavoidable – the point is that the many have to put up with this sort of behaviour all the time.
You do wonder whether the rest of the film is going to be as relentless… thankfully it isn’t – though there are many difficult patches, especially when we hear the stories of Sangeeta, Neha and Pragya.
These elevate the film from a worthy and veritable document of Srishti Bakshi’s remarkable near 4,000 km walk from Kanya Kumari to Srinagar, drawing attention to the unequal treatment of women, to something perhaps more profound and telling.
Director Ajitesh Sharma does a magnificent job of keeping both elements of the film in sync and Bakshi’s humanitarianism and the infectious enthusiasm she has for the cause, hold you as you watch.
See it just to be inspired by four very courageous and brave women – Bakshi, Sangeeta, Neha and Pragya.
Acv rating: **** (four out of five)
Yesterday (June 17), the car mocked up by artist Chila Burman to celebrate the themes of the Netflix film, ‘The White Tiger’ went on display… Burman herself was there. Earlier this year, we spoke to Burman and Inkquisitive – the other artist also commissioned to decorate a car in celebration of the film, released by Netflix in January this year.