Films should explore issues rather than preach: Vani Subramanian

September 16th, 2008 - 11:30 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 16 (IANS) She left her flourishing advertising career to make movies about social issues she feels strongly about, but don’t mistake Vani Subramanian for a sermonising filmmaker. In her latest film on the girl child, for instance, she has taken care not to preach against gender selection.”I wanted to make a film on sex determination, on the girl child. But to simply preach that don’t go in for sex selection and have a girl child was definitely not my idea. I wanted to explore the politics of the issue and analyse why the situation exists in the first place,” the salt and pepper haired Subramanian told IANS in an interview.

Casually dressed in a pair of black trousers and printed top, Subramanian looked visibly relaxed as she talked about her film “It’s a Boy (It’s Going to Be a Boy)” before its premiere at the Public Service Broadcasting Trust’s (PSBT) international film festival in the capital last weekend.

The film was a part of three others which formed a series, all dealing with the subjects of gender, sexuality and reproductive rights.

“When I started making this film, I was sure that I didn’t want to just tell my audience: do this and not that. I just wanted to loosen up the tightly wound knots in the system, which gives rise to the situation.

“For instance, the ultrasound machine through which sex determination is done has been wrongly used and this technology has been misused for more than two decades now. Then look at all the cases of harassment of women - at homes and in the open - it’s a culture, a psyche that we are talking about,” Subramanian said.

Travelling through the landscapes of Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi and Shillong, and exploring the issue beyond the government rhetoric and cultural beliefs, Subramanian said the film is not just about individual choices but socio-political situations affecting those choices.

“In Varanasi I tried to explore the Hindu cultural beliefs that affect such choices. Shillong was more like a counter view. In its matrilineal society, I found out that more and more men are resisting this kind of social set up, therefore acting as a threat to it.

“Also, in Shillong I realised that women may rule the roost at homes, but not so much outside. The dynamics are very fluid,” she said.

All of nine films old, Subramanian has made movies on a range of issues, including communalism. But as far as women related issues go, this is her maiden venture.

“The objective of making a film differs according to the context of the film. Sometimes I just want to make people think on a subject, at other times I want to stir a debate, shock or amuse my audience.

“With this film, I want to tell policy makers and others: don’t just tell people to have a girl child. Treat female foeticide as a violence against women - it’s not just an issue of the right to live. Make our roads, this society more safer for women. In short, teach people to treat women with more respect,” Subramanian said.

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