The Gender Studies Cell, St. Stephen’s College, screened two documentaries over the last week, both of which are extremely pertinent to the current social and cultural scenario that prevails in the country.
In the Mood for Love
Directed by Sandeep Kr. Singh and Aakriti Kohli, In the Mood for Love expresses the idea of love as an emotion that is genderless, through an insight into the everyday lives of homosexual couples, with the purpose of sensitizing viewers to the reality of queer love and relationships, which are considered taboo.The screening was followed by an interactive discussion with the actors and directors of the documentary on alternate sexualities and the living reality of being non-normative in a largely conservative society that is increasingly apprehensive about accepting pluralities and permitting differences to exist. Questions on the politics of sexuality, mainstream films and LGBTQ identities were also raised.
The discussion saw in attendance over 40 students, engaging in an interesting conversation with the team who worked on the film over their challenges and achievements. Prerna Subramanian, a student who attended te discussion says, “I found the documentary taut and simple, yet profound. The characters portrayed in the film were from familiar backgrounds and places and hence, I could relate to the issue even better.”
The discussion ended over the topic of what love meant to the audience and the members of the panel. This invited interesting answers, with some calling love a natural phenomenon and others referring to love as an overrated, cliched and romanticised ideal. However, an agreement was reached on one aspect of love-love is genderless.
The screening of ‘In the Mood for Love’ is the event that kickstarts the Delhi Queer Pride, 2015.
Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai
Directed by Nakul Singh Sawhney, ‘Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai,’ follows the communal tensions in Muzaffarnagar, which culminated in violent riots in 2013 that were allegedly abetted by certain political parties. The documentary traces the transition of a city, once known as ‘Mohabbat Nagar,’ to a city that has become the keyword for communal violence in the country. The documentary is an intricate collage of several perspectives-the headman of a village, children affected by the riots, the youth in the villages, and women, in the name of the protection of whose honour the riots were instigated.
The screening was followed by a discussion with Nakul Singh Sawhney and P.K.Vijayan (Faculty member, Department of English, Hindu College, and author of ‘Masculinities and Hindu Nationalism’). Nakul Singh Sawhney gave the audience a better picture of how the documentary was made, with interesting stories on the kind of people the team interacted with in the various villages that were affected by the riots. He mentioned some of the challenges faced, particularly while getting the women in the villages to talk to a male crew. An all-female crew was sent in to ensure that the women were more comfortable and expressive. Devika Shekhawat, who was at the screening says, “The documentary has portrayed the leftist political hold over UP and the communal as well as gender aspect very well. It had definitely provoked me to think about the communal politics in India.”
Both screenings resulted in engaging and informative discussions and were well received.
Image Credits: Devika Shekhawat