Deepika Lal, 29, had never told anyone that as a child she was molested by her tutor. But when her media course at Sophia Polytechnic introduced her to the art of documentary filmmaking last year, she knew she had found the best medium to finally address her anxieties.
Speak Up! It’s Not Your Fault, the film on child sexual abuse made by Lal and nine of her classmates, is one of the four short documentaries currently being screened at an exhibition by Sophia’s Social Communications Media (SCM) department. The other films — EnGAYging Lives, Sindhustani, and While We Were Not Watching — take up the issues of homosexuality, the uprooted Sindhi community and tree conservation respectively.
“It was difficult to talk about my history, but abuse is an issue that needs to be talked about,” said Lal, who not only shared her story on camera but also directed the film on child abuse.
“During our research, we were shocked to find that the average Mumbaiite did not even know the names of the body’s private parts,” said Renuka Rao (22), one of the scriptwriters on the team. The film was chosen as the best among four by a jury of five documentary filmmakers invited by SCM, and is already wanted by a Chennai-based organisation working to stop child abuse.
The other three films have also made their presence felt beyond the SCM department, whose alumni, Deepa Bhatia and Madhavi Tangella recently won awards for their films. “Our film was funded by Humsafar Trust (a gay rights advocacy organisation) and they will be screening and distributing it at all their centres,” said Ragini Khushwaha, who did the camerawork for EnGAYging Lives.
Jeroo Mulla, head of the SCM department, said, “Women’s voices have been silenced for long, these films give them a space to express their inner selves.”