‘Don’t change the world, be the change’

By Saman Haziq

The documentary became a tool for social change and has had an unprecedented impact in transforming attitudes on women’s rights

Indian journalist and documentary maker Vibha Bakshi is proud about her much-celebrated documentary, Daughters of Mother India. It’s not because the film had won a national award, but because of the momentum created by it.

Bakshi’s documentary went on to become a movement of change and hope in India’s fight against the issue of gender bias.

Bakshi, director and producer of the film, spoke to Khaleej Times about the documentary that became a tool for social change and has had an unprecedented impact in transforming attitudes on women’s rights.

Bakshi was in Dubai to attend the 19th Global WIL Economic Forum, a platform endorsed by the UAE Ministry of Economy that celebrates the big and small steps taken by large corporations, governments and individuals to promote diversity, inclusion and shares the stories of every day heroes, storytellers and game changers.

Bakshi’s documentary questions how Indian society was impacted by the events of December 2012 – when the horrific rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student happened in New Delhi (known as the Nirbhaya case) and the nationwide protests that followed.

“All we had in mind was to make a responsible film. A revolution had broken out after Nirbhaya’s death and I stood there as a proud daughter of India to capture that. I didn’t want people to stop this. I didn’t want to leave my country burning at that time.”

Through the documentary, Bakshi said it was aimed to change the entire ecosystem that is involved when a violence is committed against women. During their research, it was found that the first port of call for any woman is the police.

“But the cops are trained to deal with criminals and not victims. They took a stance to and change this approach by sensitising the police on how their actions affect a victim. It was never done before in India. So the film was used and screened for the police force across the country, which made them realise the gravity of the situation for the women and the emotions that run through them.”

Bakshi’s filming team was the only media crew to get access to the Delhi Police control and command room right after the incident. The film is today used as a training film at the Indian National Police Academy.

Talking about what led her to make the film that is now part of syllabus of 200 schools and has been receiving several accolades, Bakshi said: “I was in Delhi and saw the revolution unfolding. Our country reacted to gender violence and all I did was document those moments. So this film is nothing but a cry of my conscience. I was searching for answers for my own gender. In fact, it became a very personal journey.

“The movie (available on Netflix) focuses only for two minutes on what happened that night. It opens with what happened and what unfolded,” Bakshi said.

Bakshi is a Boston university graduate, and is being awarded an honorary degree of doctorate by her alma mater for her work as a journalist and filmmaker.

Source: Khaleej Times

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