Gender discrimination is a big issue in our country. This is one sickness that rules all over the country, from our villages to our cities. The women in our cities are the lucky lot of them all. They are liberal, free, bold. However, they are not free from silly judgments from our society. Those judgments which give birth to a new kind of gender discrimination.
Bachelor Girls, a documentary made by Shikha Makan deals with one such discrimination – the one a single girl faces when she goes out to find a shade above her head in Mumbai.
Bollywoodirect caught up with Shikha to know a bit about it before the documentary is released.
How did the idea of making a documentary on this topic come in your mind? Did the idea come because of personal experience?
Absolutely, it has to be a personal experience for a filmmaker to be so motivated to make a film like this. Yes, it started with my own experience, what I went through many years back when I had moved to Mumbai. I saw this kind of gender discrimination growing over the years. I saw so many women facing it so commonly and that it was just not my story or someone else’s. It was a common story. I was pushed to lend my tool of filmmaking to do my bit in bringing out this in public domain.
How do you see these films bringing a change for real and by change I mean is behavioral change?
First of all, it is very important for people to accept that there is a problem. I think our society lives in a denial. People don’t think that issues like these should be spoken about. So, the change starts with accepting that there is this problem prevailing amongst us. My whole intention is to raise a discussion and reach out to as many people as possible. I am really overwhelmed to see that the promo of the documentary was up only a day back and so many people have shared it, almost 300 shares by now.
And they are reacting very positively to the film. So many people are pouring their hearts. What it speaks is that these kinds of discrimination are so common in our society. I think speaking about it is very important and a film is a very strong tool to reach out to many people. I want to make people think over this issue. I am sure in the due course of the discussion, as so many people are already talking about, we will see some concrete, pragmatic solutions coming our way.
As we see in the trailer, Kalki Koechlin is there as well. Was the intention to take her in the film to popularize it a bit or you wanted to bring her side of the story too as she comes from a very popular medium that films? To let people know that even she could go through this.
The society brackets all single women as ‘bachelor girls’. You will see in the film, that it does not matter , who they are or what they do, they are all just ‘bachelor girls’, that is ‘unmarried’, hence a problem for the society. As you can also see in the promo, Kalki’s story is like any other human story. My intention is not to take her presence to catch eye-balls but state the fact that she also has a story like most other women in the city. But she is also a professional actor who speaks a lot about human issues. I am thankful to her for coming forward and lending her voice.
What were the challenges that you faced?
My biggest challenge was to give trust and confidence to people that we need to raise this voice and we need to put our thoughts, perspective, and our experiences together. Some girls had reservations. They did not want to talk about it on camera. I have tried to deal with each of their stories in a sensitive way, throwing light on housing discrimination in Bombay but at large, my film is a human story. Though I have taken a woman’s voice. Through the film what I am trying to say is that our society just can not stop looking at a single woman in a gendered way. When society begins to categorize you, that creates the problem. These kinds of topics are challenging to do.
Did you think of the commercial aspect of the film? How is it going to earn?
No, not at all. I wanted to make it because I felt very strongly about it. I am an ad film director, but as a filmmaker, I have a social responsibility too. This is what I went through when I had moved to Bombay and this is the reason I wanted to tell this to people.
How do you plan to market the film?
Yes, now people are speaking about the business part of it too. There are many online platforms that are approaching me, which is very good because in this way millions of people who live in different parts of the world would be able to see it. Soon, it is going to be online and then there are film festivals and private screenings too.
What’s next for you now after this comes out?
I am working on two different fiction scripts. One of them again is women oriented. It is a very sweet, coming of age story of a young girl. We haven’t seen many films like that in our cinema. Mostly we make films on issues and violence against women, which is extremely important because it gives a voice to them. But we don’t look at growing up of a girl in a healthy, happy way. A light-hearted take on her life, that is what I want to portray
There is another story I am working on but I cannot divulge much about it. It’s based on conservation, that’s all I can say right now.
Interview By- Shubham Pandey
Image Courtesy- Shikha’s Facebook