Monday, January 27, 2014

Bol: Speak up, Speak out and Speak Against!

If you’re a regular visitor to Scoop Whoop, you would have seen Pooja Batura’s short film Bol. If you haven’t yet, you’ve really missed out on something important. Bol hits home hard with the simple yet powerful message: to speak up, speak out and to speak against all sexual harassment. REF got to speak with Pooja Batura on the making of the film, and the light that she hopes to find at the end of the tunnel.

A Still from the film "Bol"

What inspired Bol?
What happened in Delhi left a very bad impact on me – the December 16, 2012 case. I have been born and brought up in Delhi and Noida. I had sleepless nights thinking it could have been anyone and that thought sent chills down my spine. I wondered to myself about what I should do, how I should work to show anyone that I am hurt, and how I should tell people all about what we women go through. That was where this idea came to my mind because all girls are taught to avoid or ignore these situations - but not to raise their voices.

Pooja Batura
Portraying so much without a word being spoken: how challenging was it?
As a filmmaker, it was challenging. But, as a woman it was easy. These are not fictionalised incidents, but are very much a part of a woman's life in one way or the other. I always believe that actions speak louder than words. Giving the film dialogue would be like making it fictional.

How has the response been? Do you see changes in mindsets?
Response has been over whelming but changes in the mindset would take a lot more. Honestly my film can't change everything we need to educate people. We need to teach them how to respect women. At one place we worship durga and at the other we disrespect the avatar of durga: our women. It will take a lot more than just a film. People have been asking me why the girl didn't protest in the end, they tell me that the girls should have done something, that I should have portrayed some way of protest for everyone to learn a lesson. I have only one question to them: why should I teach you how to raise your own, when we all know it that we have to speak against this evil? This film is an eye opener in its own right.

My next question is about the little girl. What preparation did you give her for the role? How did you explain the role to her? Were there challenges?
Honestly, I just told the kid that an ‘uncle’ would come and pick her up and that she would just have to get down forcefully and run towards the other girl coming from behind. What else could I have explained? Kids are so innocent that they don't even know what is being done to them when someone abuses them. Isn't it scary? All the parents should make their kids aware of what a good touch and a bad touch is. Before casting her, I narrated the complete story to her parents, though, and I am thankful to them that they understood the importance of my film.

There is a lot of furore about what the girl wears/does as being an "invitation" for harassment. Your movie addresses it so well - but did you encounter responses that reiterated that women should dress to avoid harassment?
Yes I did! A lot of people said she is wearing such clothes n all that. If a girl with fewer or lesser clothes is an invitation then a person definitely needs a psychiatrist. That mindset, we need to change. I read somewhere that if you make all dogs wear clothes for 10 years, and in the 11th year, if you get them to stop wearing clothes or to start wearing lesser clothes, people will start reacting to that as well! “Oh my god your dog was roaming in the building naked, it was asking to be mistreated!” might just be their line of thought. See it is just a game of mindsets, a game of mindsets that has to change.

Yours is arguably among the first in the world of short films to address women-on-women sexual harassment. What inspired that portrayal?
It is happening, but no one wants to talk about this out in open. I wanted people to know that not only the opposite sex does, but at times even same sex perpetrates this evil.