Documentary questions notions of virginity & chastity of women

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New Delhi, Sept 12: Questioning notions of virginity and chastity of woman across different cultures in India do not ordinarily make for everyday conversation.

However, with her documentary "My Sacred Glass Bowl" filmmaker Priya Thuvassery attempts to create a dialogue about this rarely talked about issue.

As Part of the ongoing PSBT's (Public Sector Broadcasting Trust) Open Frame Film Festival 2013, the film was conceived after Priya read a newspaper report citing instances where virginity and pregnancy tests were conducted on girls before matrimonial alliances.

"When I read the report, I kept thinking about why only women were subjected to the test of chastity and not men. Why did we not hear of health checks or an HIV test conducted on men before marriage?" says Priya a media professional and a Mass Communication graduate from Jamia Millia Islamia.

"As a modern woman, I have the voice to speak for myself, if somebody questions my morality. But how can poor girls react?" Priya says.

Shot in the interiors of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Lucknow, Jaipur and Delhi, the documentary depicts different customs prevalent in the country through which a bride is tested for purity after marriage. The "Kukari Ki Rasam" in Rajasthan is one such ritual, points out the film maker.

"If the bride is found to be non righteous, a Panchayat is called and the groom's family demands repayment of the money they paid for the bride," the filmmaker says.

The title of the documentary "My Sacred Glass Bowl" has been derived from the Malayalam "Palanku Pathram", which represents a sacred entity. In the film, it symbolises the purity of an intact hymen. The film is also launching fresh faces beginning with the musicians, animator to the camera man.

Ankush who has given the music for the documentary says that he was very excited about the concept.

In the film, it symbolises the purity of an intact hymen.

"For a person who has done theatre music that is character driven, I found the subject of the documentary that revolves around an abstract theme very intriguing," he says.

"I have composed a lullaby for the film. It was a tune that emerged form one of our jamming sessions and ultimately became the theme song of the film," Ankush says. Mithun Mohan who has provided animation for the documentary seems equally excited about his debut venture.

"We have used paint-on-glass technique of animation in the film. The animation is an integral part of the film's narrative. It is used as a punctuation in the film. We have tried to incorporate the various elements and images the film represents in the animation," says Mithun.

"My Sacred Glass Bowl" weaves a story around two mothers hailing from different circumstances who talk about hymenoplasty and virginity as an urban as well as rural phenomenon. "I think this film is also about knowing the answers that I had always sought as a child.

Right form the beginning I was taught by my mother that my body is a temple and I should not do anything to harm or blot. "I used to wonder why there is no masculine word for a virgin. The documentary is my attempt to find answers to such questions that are usually brushed under the carpet," Priya says.

The documentary is scheduled to be screened on September 13 and the "Open Frame Festival" is stated to go on till September 21.

PTI

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