Learning through experience and error

The Film Festival Fiasco of Feminism, Fervour and Flout


When I was in Dehradun some weeks ago, I went to the 3rd International Film Festival. I didn’t even know of its existence or the fact that it was free to enter. A friend asked me. I said yes. I still don’t know if I liked it or not. A few movies we watched were great; some weren’t exactly what I would call either entertaining or thought-provoking. That was when the stupidity began.

The Film Festival Fiasco of Feminism, Fervour and Flout

Let’s Focus On The Accents, Shall We?

The first movie I’ll talk about was about the neo-rich classes residing in the villages of Haryana and Noida. The filmmakers took the liberty to show authentic accents from the regions.

The movie followed the story of a family of three. A man, his son and his somewhat slow daughter. A group of delinquents ambush a family and try to exploit the girl. The family is in-turn revealed to be con artists and scam the delinquents. The script was honest and clearly pointed things like dowry, rape, the neo-rich class, crime, education or the lack of it and everything in between. It was a great movie, in my opinion, because it was brave.

A man and a woman sitting in the front row didn’t share my opinion. The usage of accents from the places the film talked about somehow offended them. Their argument was simple, at least to them.

We don’t commit crimes. We talk like this. That means you’re pointing us out, wrongfully so.

The filmmakers, however, defended their movie while garnering support from the organisers themselves.

This was the smaller fiasco, the bigger one began after we watched a movie called Love Bites. A drama with the narrative focusing on how an artist dwells in their world of overthinking and joining ideas where they don’t exist. In the movie, an artist’s relationship is destroyed because he is unable to shake the idea that his partner may be having an affair off and so, we see a narrative unfold from his perspective where the unfaithful partner is in fact, deceitful. It was an entertaining film and my only real memory from the festival.

The Beautiful Points Of View Of (Alleged) Filmmakers

Enter Payal Rohatgi. I did not know about her, and I had to rely on my friends’ knowledge and her full introduction for insight. However, her personality was one to behold. It is somewhat rare to see someone who looks and thinks beautifully. Payal talked about being an actor and had some discussions with the filmmakers who shared their experiences in the field. She went on to talk about how women are exploited continuously in the name of opportunity and stardom; an argument she perfectly supported with the number of actresses speaking against abuse internationally.

The storm began with the following announcement, “Anyone is free to ask Ms Rohatgi any questions they might have?”

At first, a man with a rather scruffy beard stood up and opened his mouth to speak an exposition for utter nonsense. “Ms Payal, you say that women are speaking up against abuse but why is it that they speak afterward and not when it is happening. Don’t you think that it makes them opportunistic where they allow their exploitation until they aren’t being benefited?”

I couldn’t help but laugh at him mockingly. At times like that, I feel ashamed for being of the same gender as people like that man. If you can’t help a situation, at least don’t talk about it like you know it firsthand. It was then a great relief to see how she shut him down. In fact, he was still going on with a rebuttal when the organisers took his mic away, rightfully so.

We thought the storm ended but then came another genius man who started with a slightly misleading description. “I am a director from Dehradun itself”, he said, “I have made movies and been in the field for a long time now. It makes me very happy that you came here in clothes that weren’t revealing at all. Often, stars and people of fame visit places in clothes that are rather revealing…”

The organisers interrupted him. Subtly. The host stripped him off his mic and turn, rightfully so. At this point, I was just sad. There wasn’t anything I could do or say to calm the frustration that was on Ms Rohatgi’s face. At that moment also, she maintained her calm and said, “It is precisely things and beliefs like these which hinder women coming out and talk about abuse, but we’re getting there”.

The talk and open interaction ended. The organisers then escorted Payal outside. I guess, she must have been glad. The points of view were rather stunted considering this was a progressive film festival.

In Hindsight

It was a weird experience because I had never witnessed this behaviour before. Not outside of anonymous comments on the internet, at least. It was also extraordinarily saddening and heartbreaking to see the audacity of the unbothered, unintelligent and unrequired.

I asked my friends if they had had enough and we left. I had to go anyway. Maybe they would’ve stayed had an open platform remained open and understanding enough.

We have a long way to go. Especially when there are people who perpetually drag us back with their orthodox perspective.

I wish I paid enough attention to their names so that I could point them out here. That is my only regret in this situation.

About the author

Deepansh Khurana

Blogger and writer from Dehradun, India. I'd say I love coffee but don't we all? I find stories, people and experiences. I blog about them.

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Learning through experience and error

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There are two kinds of blog posts here as of mid-2018 – The Journal and The Words.

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Deepansh Khurana

Blogger and writer from Dehradun, India. I'd say I love coffee but don't we all? I find stories, people and experiences. I blog about them.


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