Dawn of equal­ity

The Asian Age - - City Life - RAD­HIKA VASHISHT

The Na­tional-Award-win­ning film Son Rise, which high­lights sto­ries of men stand­ing up against pa­tri­archy in the un­like­li­est of sit­u­a­tions, was re­cently screened in Delhi. We caught up with di­rec­tor Vibha Bak­shi for a tête-à-tête, where she re­vealed the magic be­hind the reel.

The au­di­ence first gave a stand­ing ova­tion — and that too for 25 min­utes — and then, all of a sud­den, they started singing the Na­tional An­them. No, this is not a scene from a film, but what tran­spired dur­ing the re­cent Delhi screen­ing of the Na­tional-Award-win­ning film, Son Rise, di­rected by film­maker Vibha Bak­shi. The sen­si­tiv­ity with which the film por­trays ex­tra­or­di­nary sto­ries of or­di­nary he­roes from Haryana, com­pletely had those in at­ten­dance en­cap­su­lated.

“It was a very emo­tional mo­ment for me. The cheer­ing was un­be­liev­able,” shares Vibha, whose film was screened for am­bas­sadors and high com­mis­sion­ers from across the world. Son Rise is set in Haryana, and it de­picts a highly pa­tri­ar­chal so­ci­ety with a skewed sex ra­tio due to ram­pant il­le­gal sex de­ter­mi­na­tion and fe­male foeti­cide. The sex ra­tio im­bal­ance has led to an un­prece­dented level of gen­der crimes, rang­ing from bride traf­fick­ing to gang rapes. It is in such an un­likely place that reg­u­lar men take on the fight to change the nar­ra­tive of gen­der inequal­ity.

Shar­ing her ex­pe­ri­ence with the film, Vibha re­veals, “We shot this film in Haryana, where we re­alised that there is an ab­sence of girls. We could not find them any­where. We never went to make this kind of story, but this is what we found to be the ground re­al­ity. And then what we learned is, be­cause of the ram­pant il­le­gal foeti­cide, there are 1.6 mil­lion men today who won’t find a bride.”

“We found a farmer named Ji­ten­der. He mar­ried a gang rape sur­vivor, and he is fight­ing hard for her. And, like him, there are other he­roes too, who are chang­ing the nar­ra­tive on inequal­ity. It is not a women’s is­sue, it is a hu­man rights is­sue,” she adds.

The screen­ing was co-hosted by the New Zealand High Com­mis­sioner, the Dean of Diplo­matic Corps and peo­ple of UN Women at Siri Fort, with the am­bas­sadors and high com­mis­sion­ers of 15 mis­sions com­ing to­gether to pledge their sup­port.

Vibha be­lieves that men must join in the strug­gle; it is not a man ver­sus woman thing, and ev­ery­one needs to stand in sol­i­dar­ity. She con­tin­ues, “When you see men like them who are brought up in the feet of pa­tri­archy, chang­ing the nar­ra­tive, one won­ders — if they can do it — if the sons can rise from here (Haryana) — then there is no ex­cuse for us.” Speak­ing about the chal­lenges she faced while mak­ing the films, Vibha shares, “Firstly, it took two years to com­plete this film; se­condly, no­body was will­ing to talk at first but once when we de­cided to just be there, we were able to win the trust of the peo­ple, and then it was them who di­rected us to all the vil­lages, and we cov­ered 45 vil­lages.”

We found a farmer named Ji­ten­der. He mar­ried a gang rape sur­vivor, and he is fight­ing hard for her. And, like him, there are other he­roes too, who are chang­ing the nar­ra­tive on inequal­ity.

A still from Son Rise

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