No Country for Little Girls

In her new feature Kajarya,Madhureeta Anand brings two women from contrasting social backgrounds together to talk about female infanticide

Written by Jaskiran Kapoor | Chandigarh | Published: June 21, 2013 1:01:53 am

Who is this woman who allegedly kills baby girls? What happens to her designated job when ultrasound machines come into the picture? Does she feel guilty? In her next feature,filmmaker Madhureeta Anand picks some of these uncomfortable questions and tries to find answers. Kajarya (the dark one) is a thriller drama about women in India,and about the world they operate in. “There are a lot of films made on women but seldom do they explore the interiors of this world they live in,” says Anand.

In Kajarya,Anand walks this shadow of fear,uncertainty and discrimination. It’s never been about gender as much as it is about one system versus another,she says. “For generations,women have been socially conditioned to live a certain way,and men made to believe that women embody their pride and honour,” she adds. She also feels that “the regressive programming and content on television goes on to validate these social distinctions”.

Critically acclaimed for her previous documentaries (on religion,culture,art,travel and women for international channels such as Channel 4,Discovery,National Geographic and BBC) and running one-of-a-kind Digital Film Festival in India under the banner of Ekaa Films,Anand’s Kajarya is about two women from different social backgrounds who collide in a world where girls are better off dead. It features debutante actors Kuldip Ruhil,Meenu and Ridhima Sood. It also features the residents of a village in Jhajjar (Haryana) where the film has been shot,apart from Uttar Pradesh.

At the core of the film is the story of women in India — in villages and cities. “It’s a dramatic story of people who are both victims and perpetrators of extreme violence,” says Anand,who was inspired to make the film after she came across an interview of a dai a couple of years ago. “This dai killed baby girls. She went on to say that she was just a hangman,and that people bring their babies to her and want her to do the job for them. I stringed my story from there,as a conversation between this woman and a reporter called Meera,” explains Anand.

Although the idea and script were in place,it was an uphill task finding producers to back the film. It took her three and a half years to write,shoot and produce the film. It’s now being co-produced by Q (who previously directed and co-produced Gandu Circus) and Starfire movies,along with her Ekaa Films. This year,the film also made way to the Cannes festival with its promo,and Anand is also eyeing the Venice Film Festival.

The backlash of the moral police doesn’t bother Anand. “In fact,I welcome it,for we need a talking point. We have to take responsibility as filmmakers because what we put out there makes a dent,” she says.

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