Film Review: Daughters of Mother India

After the 2012 Delhi gang rape, the gruesome issue of violence against Nirbhaya – the brutal Delhi rape of 23 year old physiotherapy intern by six men on a moving bus, will remain a very horrific memory for a long time.  Nirbhaya will be remembered for her struggle to survive, and when she died, frenzy broke out in India. Made during 2013-2014, Vibha Bakshi’s film, Daughters of Mother India was the outcome of this tragedy.  The shock and repulsion can never be forgotten by Bakshi, herself. 

 

The social documentary was to become a movement – beginning with the prestigious National Film Award for the year 2015; it was judged as the best film on social issues. Later, many national and international awards were won by the documentary.  Producer and director, Bakshi didn’t want her story to be sensational for the simple reason that she doesn’t believe in sensationalism; as a documentary filmmaker, she wants her work to last. “I want to attract audience for truthful substance. That way, my films will always have longer shelf-lives.”

 

Daughters of Mother India brings out somber dialogues connected with gender violence in India. The film includes the late Justice Leila Seth, activist Dr. Kiran Bedi, social analyst Dr. Syed Mubin Zehra, among others who were in the Police at the time of the film’s making. Neeraj Kumar, Commissioner of Police, Delhi and Ms. Suman Nalwa, Head of Delhi Police Unit for Women & Children are also in the storyline.

 

Daughters of Mother India is a 45 minute documentary, where the role of the police is replayed to message that they are approachable to record the rights of citizens.  The message extends the feeling that the primitive mind which shames the rape victim is slowly changing to become bold and positive in exposing the rapist/rapists.  “The police was one of the most critical components of the storyline. If I didn’t get them, I knew there was no story to be told,” Bakshi says. “The command centre of the Delhi Police has a hectic routine, it receives close to 25,000 calls a day, and now in India, more and more women are picking up courage to register complaints every day. I realized that the issue was not them versus us, or cops versus us or families like this or that. I became non-judgmental. After all it is a fight in which we are all responsible, and that it is up to everyone in society to harbor change.”

 

The case of Gudiya, a young child is also highlighted in Daughters of Mother India. Bakshi brings forward the child-sexual-abuse – a subject which is shunned or not widely discussed.

 

Daughters of Mother India has been translated in 7 Indian regional languages. The film is now showing on NETFLIX, worldwide.  Additional language sub-titles that NETFLIX will create are in: Spanish, French, Arabic, Korean, Chinese.

 

Dr. Dipankar Gupta, Sociologist and Professor explains in the film how the deep-rooted patriarchy influences men to hurt women, and how the bride’s family is considered inferior to the groom’s.  He talks about the way the patriarchal mindset is very ingrained and existing with social biases. Essentially, Bakshi’s film is possessing hope.  She says, “I am sure that I did not want people to associate disgust or disillusionment, I wanted it to have a hopeful tone.” She clarifies, “It would perhaps help us feel like there are things we can do to prevent these crimes rather than give into a feeling of helplessness.”

 

Bakshi resides in Mumbai and she has worked with Oscar Award Winner Maryann De Leo (White Horse, Chernobyl Heart, Too Hot Not To Handle) and remains in touch with De Leo in New York.
Director of Photography is Attar Singh Saini – whose creative work has a soul.



Geeta Chhabra


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