One of the more significant documentaries being screened at the International Film Festival of India this year is ‘Daughters of Mother India’, directed by Vibha Bakshi. The film won the National Award this year for Best Film on Social Issues and also picked up the Best Documentary Film prize at the New York Indian Film Festival.
“Like everyone else, I was also affected by the horrific rape incident that took place in December 2012. The whole country was shaken up and the reaction that we had was quite unique. This documentary was result the cry of my own conscience,” said Vibha on the side lines of her films’ screening at IFFI.
She made the film through personal initiative without the help of production networks and their funds. “I never thought the film will travel so far, but when the intent is right and there is conviction in what you are doing, the results will be always favourable,” she said with a smile, though jetlagged after a trip from the US.
The film explores how the situation has changed post the Delhi incident. “We relentlessly pursued the police and met the commissioner, who was also a father of two children and gave us access to the police control room. The police are one of the front lines of this whole issue,” Vibha added.
Her experience of dealing with the police taught her that they are just a reflection of us, the society as a whole. Everyone has their biases. “It was a revelation, what I learnt there, and that is what I have tried to present. The film doesn’t offer any answers or solutions to the gender problem we face but it highlights the issue,” said the director whose earlier work has been screened on HBO in the US.
Leslee Udwin’s documentary India’s daughter also dealt with the same subject but in a contradictory manner. “Instead of sensationalising the issue, I was looking for hope and this is an effort to sensitise the audiences. There are things that are wrong but my approach is to look at things from a positive mind set, after all, hope is the most powerful tool that we have. If we lose hope the fight is lost,” she added on an optimistic note.
Vibha made a conscious decision to focus on those people who are working towards bringing about a change. She is hopeful that there will be some kind of chain reaction and goodness will prevail. The film has had selective screenings in the US and was received very well. “It is again the message of hope that strikes a chord with everyone,” said the business reporter turned documentary film maker.
This year, the jury at the National Award head by Kamal Swaroop in their citation said about that “explicitly and determinedly turning the spotlight on the burning issue of rape in the country and the brutal mentality that drives it.”
One of the triumphs of the film is that the police department is screening the film for the force across different parts of the country to sensitise them about the issue. It is also reaching out to schools and corporates are chipping in and screening it for their staff as well. Besides, Viacom is releasing the film at prime time in different regional languages in the interest of the public.
More power to such filmmakers who are attempting to bring in a change.