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Here’s what to binge-watch next. Series by Pune-based film-maker on sex, mental health, gender identity

The entire series is brought together by hosts Alok Rajwade and Mrinmayee Godbole, who address the audience while summing up the topic discussed.

pune Updated: Apr 29, 2019 16:24 IST
Anjali Shetty
Anjali Shetty
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,Anupam Barve,film-maker
Anupam Barve, film-maker (HT PHOTO)

In an interesting association, three film-makers and Prayas Health Group (PHG) have come together to create Safe Journeys: a series of eight short films in Marathi. Each film focuses on a different, pressing issue related to sex and sexuality faced by adolescents and youth. Pune-based filmmaker Anupam Barve has directed four films for this series, while Alok Rajwade and Varun Narvekar have directed two films each. The scripts are penned by five writers under the supervision and guidance received from Barve and the research team at Prayas. Anjali Shetty speaks to Barve on the idea, dealing with taboo topics and more.

Excerpts:

Tell us about the idea behind the project. How did you go about it?

Barve: Safe Journeys stemmed out of PHG’s project where they conducted a research to understand the sexual health of people falling under the age group of 20-29. The idea was to address their questions pertaining to sexual health and self-efficacies. A team consisting of six to eight people interviewed 1,250 people, over a span of a year and a half. While doing so, they realised that while there is a lot of content in terms of awareness available on various mediums, very little was done to enhance and educate the youth with regards to self-efficacies. They first floated another project techno-peer, where people can ask questions, have peer support. I was asked whether I would be willing to make a series of short films for this project. The entire series is brought together by hosts Alok Rajwade and Mrinmayee Godbole, who address the audience while summing up the topic discussed.

How did you zero down on the topics?

Barve: We had a nice mix. Generally film-makers get on board to make something specific and that can be extremely kind of slippery and tricky. So, one point here or there and you can lose the plot. Then you have the research team that has the knowledge, but necessarily will have the knack of screen writing or developing material. So, we sat down together, brainstormed, pulling matter of situation and memories. Also, PHG had an exhaustive list of topics that were already there and subjects that they would like to throw light on. We identified 8-10 heads and under that we worked on 10-11 scripts. We finalised eight scripts which dealt with safe sex, masturbation, porn addiction, decision-making abilities, seeking support for mental health, unwanted pregnancy, positive self-image, child sexual abuse, and consent. In each film, the characters make an attempt to resolve the conflicts faced by them, in an adaptive and healthy way. The aim of these short films is to encourage the youth to openly and comfortably talk about their sexuality, with their family and peers.

Was it easy to work around these topics since it is considered a ‘taboo’ subject?

Barve: It was tricky. For example, the subject of child sexual abuse is very delicate. The question behind portraying the subject in a storyline and what kind of social set up or class do you embed the story in, were elements we had to tread lightly upon. The first episode is set in a higher middle class set-up, so there will be people who will come back and question it. How do you think people who do not belong to this class will identify with the issue? As the duration was shot within 10 minutes, we did not have the time to go into subtle nuances of each topic. How explicit do you go with topics such as gender identity, child sexual abuse, unwanted pregnancy and positive self-image? We did not want to sound callous or look haphazard. The good thing for us was that we had researchers who had relevant and first-hand information. We had realistic reminders of what is tangible and plausible.

Link to the series: Safe Journeys: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLN3XXvk4shzZrCRhAnxeh9yvdx3zvao5f

First Published: Apr 28, 2019 16:51 IST