Roundabout: Shout out loud girl or you won’t be heard - Hindustan Times
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Roundabout: Shout out loud girl or you won’t be heard

ByNirupama Dutt
Mar 26, 2023 01:35 AM IST

Vinta Nanda’s film, produced by Gayatri Gill of Swastik Studios, Shout goes beyond MeToo to view violence against women across the length & breath of the country

It was in February 2020 that I got a phone call from Vinta Nanda that she would be visiting Chandigarh soon and wanted to meet me as she was making a nationwide film on the harassment faced by women and a common friend had given my reference for help. Now hers was a familiar name. Way back in the ‘90s, one had watched her soap on television with interest. It was called “Tara” and told the story of four girls — one of the characters was played by an actor one knew: the lovely Daisy Virk of Patiala. She had graduated from Panjab University’s department of Indian theatre and with her film name, Navneet Nishan, gained fame and endeared herself to the viewers as one of the Tara four.

Filmmaker Vinta Nanda. (HT Photo)
Filmmaker Vinta Nanda. (HT Photo)

Vinta told me that she had been given a reference by Preeti Gill, known in Punjab for the Majha House, a cultural centre she set up in Amritsar some years ago. Gill had long been associated with the feminist movement and had worked with the “Kaali for Women” and “Zubaan” publishing houses in New Delhi.

Vinta shared the idea of her film on atrocities against women across the country and wanted me to help her out in the region. Always ready for the cause, I met Vinta in the office of my friend Veena the lawyer, who was representing acid victims of Punjab and Haryana. I gave her the lead to young Amy Singh, who had been part of the Azadi struggle to free the “Gerhi Route” in Sector 10 of girls being chased in plush cars. Of course, she wanted to meet my friend Bant Singh of Jhabhar village near Mansa.

Bhanwari Devi (HT Photo)
Bhanwari Devi (HT Photo)

The shooting completed by February-end, but Covid-19 followed. The film is finally completed and has had a special screening in Mumbai, drawing rave reviews. Indeed, Vinta has told the story well and it is the first film of its kind, one that speaks of harassment of women across the country and across caste, class, creed and age. It is indeed a valuable document made with passion. Indeed, it covers a long range across the length and breadth of the country, starting with the rape of Bhanwari Devi in Rajasthan, the rape of Bant Singh’s daughter in Punjab and the attack on him during his fight for justice, the Kathua rape case of a minor child, the Kerala nun’s rape and more.

Veteran film connoisseur Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri says thus of the disquieting documentary titled “Shout”: “In a little over 90 minutes, the film covers a huge ground, taking into its ambit not just the MeToo movement, from which it originated, but also the deep-rooted patriarchy and misogyny that has been written into the DNA of our nation”. Feminist columnist Deepa Gahlot, meanwhile, writes: “Films like ‘Shout’ (tagline: Be Fierce, Be Fabulous) shows us that we can no longer turn away saying that one tragedy in a distant place no longer concerns us because then we become a part of the void of silence”.

Gill and Vinta are planning to screen the film in special shows all over the country including at the villages of Bhanwari Devi and Bant Singh. “If it wasn’t for the sisterhood, we share this film would not have been made,” Vinta adds.

Sunaina Sindhwani (HT Photo)
Sunaina Sindhwani (HT Photo)

Struggle for love

Speaking of struggle and sisterhood, a novel released by author Sunaina Sindhwani in the city on Friday presents a fine example. The second novel by the author, who hails from Haryana and is now living in Canada, has picked the theme of choosing love in a society that accepts only conventional choices. Dedicated to the LGBTQ community, the novel is based on the true story of a woman who grew up in a well-endowed home, but struggles with her sexual ambiguity all her life, always attempting to define her choices.

Finally, she makes a choice of moving away from a loving husband and adult son to accept herself and work with a non-governmental organisation supporting the community. The author says, “It is a novel of love, loss and redemption and an honest woman’s painful quest for truth as she asks herself if she will be accepted as she is?”

A discussion on the rights of the LGBQT community followed the release of the book, covering whether same-sex marriages should be legalised. Sindhwani says, “The novel is an ode to the ability of individuals to transcend their circumstances and stand up against intolerance and ridicule in a rigid society.”

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