Films/Media action on Female Foeticide
Teachers pool in money for film but screen it in housing societies due to lack of funds
In the last few years, female foeticide may have featured as the dominant topic in seminars and conferences, but for Arjun Jagdhane, it goes beyond just talk.
A teacher of Hindi and Marathi at Goregaon’s Nandeep High School, Jagdane’s obsession for educating people about the death of the girl child found a medium on the silver screen, with the movie Savitichya Lekhi — a two-hour Marathi film on female infanticide.
The film traces the journey of the protagonist, an educated female lawyer from a middle class family who leaves her husband and in-laws when they pressurise her to abort her second daughter after a pregnancy test. The husband remarries, only to have a hard time managing his new wife and puts his parents in an old age home. The protagonist and her daughter who the family had abandoned then take up the responsibility of her in-laws.
“I then took my story to director Sanjay Pawar (Mukta, Dombivli Fast, Viruddh). Pawar immediately liked the story and agreed to convert it into a movie,” he said.
“We then collected the sum for nearly a year by including more teachers as members in the Kalpak Creation Parivar — the banner under which the film has been released.”
Seventeen other school teachers from schools like Vivek Vidyalaya, Vidya Mandir High School, Balvikas High School and Yusuf Meher Ali in Tardeo have taken personal loans of up to Rs 2 lakhs each for it.
Ramesh Mohite, one of the teachers, said that the group had failed to set aside money for publicity. “We weren’t aware of the money to keep aside for publicity. We have no money to release it in theatres in Mumbai now hence we are now showing it in housing societies in a bid to recover some of the cost as well as make more people aware.” The team has now written a letter to President Pratibha Patil expressing their desire to hold a private screening for her.
Halls in affluent belts to show movies against female foeticide
by Charu Sudan Kasturi for The Telegraph
New Delhi, Jan. 3: Multiplexes in some of India’s richest localities may soon be showing films against female foeticide, a crime that statistics suggest is most common among the urban elite.
Sources said the government was planning to produce movies against foeticide and screen them specifically in multiplexes, visited primarily by the more affluent in urban India.
The initiative is part of broader plans to target better-off Indians, the sources said.
“The aim of these films will be to sensitise multiplex audiences, which are very different in character and in their choice of films from the rest of India,” a senior official in the women and child development ministry said.
The ministry has already initiated talks with the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII).
At a meeting with FTII officials scheduled for this weekend, minister Renuka Chowdhury is expected to outline how the government plans to go about the project.
After the meeting, the government, the sources said, would shortlist a few filmmakers to direct the movies. Upcoming director Meghna Gulzar is among the names being discussed, they said. The movies might also involve FTII faculty members and alumni, officials at the institute said.
Speaking to The Telegraph a week ago, the women and child development minister had expressed fears of a “girl squeeze” in Indian society.
“There is an increasing girl squeeze in our society. If things continue the way they are at present, soon there may be entire areas where boys don’t have enough girls to marry,” she had said.
The decision to screen movies indicates growing acceptance within the government that while education and financial stability might help overcome many socio-economic hurdles, foeticide continues to plague the better-off sections in India.
Prosperous states like Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat, and Delhi have among the lowest sex ratios in the country (see chart below).
Within Delhi, well-to-do localities — like Defence Colony, Preet Vihar and Punjabi Bagh — have among the lowest sex ratios.
Traditionally, not enough has been done to spread awareness among the elite, ministry sources said. But gynaecologist Puneet Bedi accused the government of indulging in “page three talk, based on little understanding of the problem”.
“If I drive a fancy car, I will not switch to a bicycle after watching a movie. The killers of Nithari wouldn’t have stopped killing girls because of a film they saw. Initiatives like these are an insult to the seven million dead Indian girls,” Bedi fumed.
Bedi said the government needed to make serious efforts to enforce the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prevention) Act, instead of spending money simply on awareness.
“In India, the law was introduced precisely because it became clear that awareness alone had failed. Female foeticide cannot be treated as a social evil which awareness can eliminate. It is a crime,” he said.
Bedi also questioned the government’s decision to selectively target the urban rich.
“It is true that the rich have been guilty more often. But that is only because they can afford it. As the charges for sex determination fall, the poor will also engage in the crime,” he said.
Courtesy : The Telegraph, Calcutta