By Arundhuti Banerjee
Mumbai, Feb 22 (IANS) National Award-winning filmmaker Vibha Bakshi, whose documentary “Son Rise” emphasises on the involvement of men in ensuring gender equality, says that a movie or a moving image has the power to push the human mind to bring about a positive change in society.
Talking about the importance of equal participation of both the genders to establish equality, Vibha told IANS here: “I think it is very important to create awareness and gender sensitisation among boys and girls from the beginning if we really want to see a change for the future generations. A film has that power to move our mind, to provoke our thoughts and motivate to stand for what is right.”
The film was screened at the Royal Opera House here in the presence of United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, on Tuesday.
The documentary is based on three accounts that address the issue of gender inequality that is leading to sex crimes and bride trafficking.
“Son Rise” is inspired by the HeForShe campaign of the United Nations. The core thought of the initiative is to involve men to achieve gender equality in a predominantly patriarchal society.
It is set in the Delhi NCR area, Delhi, Haryana, Ambala and a few areas of Punjab.
Baljit Singh Malik is the chief of the most influential ‘Khap’ Panchayat in India comprising 1,140 villages. He is leading a drive to end female foeticide.
Sunil Jaglan, a village chief (Sarpanch) for a Bibipur in Jind district, started “Selfie with Daughter” campaign to inspire people to feel proud of their daughters.
Then there’s story of Jitender Chhatar, a farmer from Haryana’s Jind district, who has not only married a gang-rape victim but is also supporting her in her fight for justice.
Talking about the challenges of working on the project, Vibha said: “In the beginning, all men denied the reality and refused to talk to me, especially because I was carrying a camera.
“However, the moment I built the trust with them, the victims realised that they were in safe hands with me. I would say that everyone cooperated to get the story out. They understood the gravity of the situation.”
Vibha’s earlier film “Daughters of Mother India” had bagged a National Award for Best Film on Social Issues.
A mainstream Bollywood film tends to have a much wider reach than a documentary in India. Asked why she is not making a film using that medium, Vibha said: “Right now I am so engrossed with ‘Son Rise’ as I am travelling with the film in support of United Nations and attempting to reach out to as many villages as possible that are affected by the issue.”
“For me, it is an achievement when after the screening of the film; people come forward and anonymously give donations to Jitender so that he can fight the case for his wife,” Vibha smiled.
(Arundhuti Banerjee can be contacted at [email protected])