Real Talkies

Real Talkies

Every cut is a lie. It’s never that way. Those two shots were never next to each other in time that way. But you’re telling a lie in order to tell the truth. –Wolf Koenig.

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Documentaries about Gender in India

December 30, 2012

This is an effort to compile existing documentaries, PSA, non-fiction films that explore status of women, sexuality, gender roles etc from an Indian perspective.


PSA on Rape and Gender Violence in India. R.A.P.E is the most under reported crime in India.

The False Mirror: Representation of Women in Indian Advertising

A documentary on the representation of women in Indian media particularly advertisements. This video is inspired by the work of Jean Killbourne’s “Killing Us Softly” series on the representation of women in the United States.


What kind of an India are we building/leaving behind for the little Indian girls who did not get executed in the womb, who made it to the school against all odds and reached adulthood?As the whole nation is now actively engaged in talking about gender violence against women, this film becomes even more relevant. Watch the trailer.

On one side are the entrants for the Miss Indian pageant, 20 young women almost at the top of a pyramid that represents opportunity. “You earn for yourself, you gain respect,” declares one entrant, Ankita Shurey, and the business of beauty represents the chance of a gilded life with endorsements and television deals. Despite the demands of the competition and the unyielding male gaze, these women see the chance to trump an intensely patriarchal society. On the other side is the Durga Vahini, a nationalistic conservative woman’s association that indoctrinates 15 to 25-year-old Indian woman to maintain the country’s traditions by force (imagine the C.W.A with less baking and more rifle training). “Your transformation into tigers begins here,” declares one instructor, who tellingly adds that depictions of India’s traditional deities always featured weapons. The organisation sees change in India as a harbinger of social decay, with western values bringing supposedly western afflictions such as divorce, drug use and illegitimate children.

I love and hate this film. I love the film for looking at the status of Indian women through the most absurd and extreme lens. It looks at the scary polar opposites of India’s women. In my humble opinion those polar opposites are “Women as a Commodity” and “Women as Shakthi(boxed in conservative ideologies)”. I hate the film for reducing the discussion to just these two positions in a voyeuristic way. Nonetheless, it is a great film to debate, discuss and explore gender roles, representation and what should a Indian woman be like.


A ‘mix-tape’ so to speak of Mira Nair and Kama Sutra, and their films, Kama Sutra: A Love Tale (1996) and Water (2005), respectively.

Both controversial films, especially in India, this video looks at the question of how women are portrayed, and how, using this creative medium, are their injustices depicted…Can film play a role?


A documentary film through the eyes of a researcher, Sarah Harris as she explores the history of the Devadasi system and the lives of devadasis today

We travel deep into the remote villages and towns of Southern India to uncover an ancient system of religious sex slavery dating back to the 6th century. Although the practice was made illegal more than 20 years ago, we discover there are still more than 23,000 women in the state of Karnataka selling their bodies in the name of the mysterious Hindu Goddess Yellamma. They are known as Devadasis, or ‘servants of God’. From city red light districts to rural mud huts, we meet proud brothel madams, HIV positive teenage prostitutes, and gay men in saris. Our intimate exploration into the life of the Devadasi reveals a pseudo-religious system that exploits poverty-stricken families to fuel modern India’s booming sex trade.


Al Jazeera’s program on “Slavery: 21st Century Evil: Bridal Slaves explores bride trafficking in India.

In a country where female children are sometimes considered a financial burden, the common practice of infanticide and gender-selective abortion has led to a shortfall in the number of women available for marriage – something made all the more problematic by high dowry costs. Experts say this has encouraged bride trafficking.

In the midst of widespread poverty, fueled by economic inequality and rampant corruption, a new form of slavery – bridal slavery – has flourished. Women and young girls are sold for as little as $120 to men who often burden them with strenuous labour and abuse them.

In Silence: Maternal Mortality in India

Each year half a million women around the world die in childbirth. Twenty percent of those deaths are in India. Most of the deaths are preventable with access to proper healthcare.

Women Aloud Videoblogging for Empowerment (WAVE) in India

WAVE is…A unique digital platform for young semi-urban Indian women to voice their perspectives on issues that matter through video blogs.

One young woman was selected through non-government organizations and colleges from every state in India for an innovative 9-month mentorship program, and provided with video equipment, intensive training and monthly stipends for participating in the project. WAVE’s philosophy is that young women in India need to be heard and encouraged to analyze the problems in their communities and go on to become leaders who provide effective solutions in order for society to become socially and economically empowered.

WAVE was started by Sapna Shahani (Director) and Angana Jhaveri (Associate Director) and took flight when their proposal won a grant from 2009 Digital Media and Learning Competition (DML) sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation and HASTAC in the U.S.


The Girl Effect is a MOVEMENT. It’s about about ending poverty. And it’s about doing so by investing in girls. Learn. Explore. And get involved. I dare you.


How an opportunity makes a world of difference. Listen to Anita appeal, ” Do whatever you can do give girls a chance”

Surviving Your Marriage: A 10-Step Guide for Women (In Production)

Synopsis: This short preview of an under-production feature length documentary, follows the struggles of a few Muslim women in India who have taken on the social, legal and religious institutions of India to defend their rights surrounding the infamous triple “Talaq” practice in India, a Sunni Muslim custom that allows any husband to end his marriage by saying three times “talaq”. The preview outlines the struggles of three women in Old Delhi.

More films will be added soon.


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1 notes

  1. Telling the Story of Jyoti Singh Pandey | Benevolent Media | Celebrating Storytelling and Design for Good reblogged this and added:

    […] curated Pinterest boards on videos about women, particularly on gender violence, as well as a list of documentaries, PSAs and nonfiction films that explore the status of women, sexuality and gender from an Indian […]

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