For filmmaker Ojaswee Sharma, the need to connect with people and talking about issues that surround us bring to focus the many shades of our society, and drives him to make films. From shorts, documentaries to full-length feature films, the young filmmaker uses varied platforms to express what he strongly feels about. The subjects are varied and meaningful, be it the issues of transgenders, the status of women in our society, the health of the girl child, protection of witnesses of crime, migration, women empowerment and biopics, Sharma’s films have been screened at film festivals and digital platforms and have won awards.
His latest short campaign film Ungli urges the Indian youth to cast their vote in this year’s Lok Sabha election. The film is targeted towards those who are addicted to use their primary finger for swiping on their phones, exploring social media for engaging images and videos and believe in expressing their thoughts virtually to bring the change in the nation they wish to seek. The film, in less than a minute, reminds them of a judicious use of the finger by exercising the right to vote. “All I see is young people immersed in their mobile phones. They prefer chatting on social media rather than face-to-face. Human interaction and discussions are less, and many youngsters have no idea who are the people in their constituency who are contesting elections and asking for votes. How can we bring about change if we do not vote and make our decisions mindfully. Such campaigns should be the effort of the Election Commission and the government, for we need to make the youth aware of their rights and duties,” adds Sharma.
The year 2015, he says, saw a turnout of 66.15 per cent voters, the highest ever recorded. This means that 33.85 per cent voters did not vote. In a country like India, this figure implies that 44.2 crore people did not vote. “As aware citizens, we feel that in a country with 65 per cent of its population below the age of 35, it is our responsibility to encourage the youth to vote. With the increasing use of technology and mobile phones, it is imperative that they understand the power of their finger and use it to cast their vote, and not just be a mute audience on social media,’’ says 30-year-old Sharma, who has written and directed the film.
Sharma says he felt an urgent need to reach out to the young regarding the issue. He adds that through the film, he has played with the psychology of the people, urging them to know their rights, not fall into traps, be bribed, but be partners in creating a better India. “The short duration of the film translates into more attention span, the challenge is to present a serious and hard-hitting message, but not a sermon,so that the content seems absorbing and people from all sections can relate to it and conclude it in a way that makes people think. I have produced and directed film with different durations to initiate a dialogue. At this moment, this is the most important issue and so this effort,” adds the filmmaker.