A short film talking about the tribulations and impact of sexual harassment with the ability to come out even stronger.
Sexual harassment, one of the most heinous kinds of bullying one could ever face, is a very traumatic experience both physically and mentally.
On this issue a short film titled Ab Mujhe Udnaa Hai - Let Me Soar High written by Sunil Kapoor and produced by Suujoy Mukherjee has bagged an award at Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival.
The film revolves around an 18-year-old girl - Devika who becomes a victim of sexual harassment and the repercussions and horror not only inflict damages on Devika's confidence where she starts to stay aloof and get cut off from the rest of the world, but also her family members, who feel the heat. In the meanwhile, the offenders are caught and put behind bars but the family's repeated perusal on the case irritates theinvestigating officer who bursts out saying Devika was just molested and not raped.
Devika's trainer and dance mentor encourages her to come out of the shadows and face the world and tells her that having wings is of no use if it is not fuelled by the courage and the date to flap them and soar high up. She struggles, she falls, she starts and the lights shimmer again.
“Molestation is a thing for which there has to be a very strong law,” says Suujoy adding, “I feel molestation is a very big crime and that’s why I got inspired making this film.” The subject of molestation is a sensitive one, he says and adds the biggest challenge was how would the public accept the movie.
While he never had high expectations but was upbeat about the accolades the short film received. It has bagged 19 awards and clinched the Best Short Film at Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival.
Once a woman gets sexually harassed, her life changes. In India, sexual harassment is equally horrifying for the victim and her family. Often the society is prejudiced that it is because of what a girl wears, theway she walks and the way she talks that leads to it. Harassment can range from snide and derogatory comments about a woman's appearance to actual physical touching without consent. Whistle blowing directed towards a woman too is also deemed as sexual harassment.
According to the data published by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, there is a rise of 54 per cent registered cases of sexual harassment 371 in 2014 to 570 in 2017. However, in a survey recently conducted by LocalCircles in October 2018, showed that 78 per cent of the respondents do not even report the fact that they were sexually harassed in the workplace to the HR manager.
“When a woman’s reputation is tarnished be it physical or mental, not only she bares the brunt but the entire family faces the undercurrent of the trauma,” he says and believes that there is a need for women to be empowered and describes his film as a woman empowerment one. When asked about whether short films get the same attention as long commercial films, he says, “Short films market is going a lot. As a filmmaker, people are making short films now and you have to say it in those 25-30 minutes. The whole story.” There is no shortage to showcase one's short film as there are various platforms be it online or in various film festivals.
He believes, “Today people can make what is in their mind and release it on YouTube. Short films are not very big budget films. It can be made in a very small budget also.” He believes that via short films, people can convey various messages and also a good platform for a person to show his or her directorial skills. He was upbeat about the fact that film producers are now mulling over showcasing their films and other visual content online. He feels that a lot of realism is coming in to Indian cinema and people are accepting the reality of these films and relate to it.
His one word of advice to all the budding filmmakers is, “What is in your mind, what you feel like, if you want to do something then please go ahead and do it. As a filmmaker, you should not restrict yourself and always be a learner because filmmaking is all about learning and improving with experience.”
He offered an insight that there were a lot of films in the festival that revolved around rape and not molestation. He goes on to say that many women, who are molested, land up in depression and are often married off by their parents. “In my film, this girl (the protagonist) getting back on her feet and dancing shows her life is not over”, he concludes.