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#SundayReading – It’s sexual assault, remember? #Vaw

Total recoil: Laura Dern (with Isabel Nelisse) plays the 48-year-old Jennifer Fox, who’s forced to re-examine the wreckage of her past kyle kaplan/ courtesy of sundance institute   –  KYLE KAPLAN/ COURTESY OF SUNDANCE INSTITUTE

The Tale searingly drives home the point that in any sexual assault case, the victim’s memory is their biggest obstacle — unreliable, repressed, and always on revision mode

Back in May, one of the country’s top news channels decided to jettison every pretence of ethics by airing CCTV footage connected to the sexual assault case brought against former Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal by a colleague. The case is sub-judice, and yet the controversial footage was aired publicly for the first time, that too at prime time. The existence of such a recording had long been discussed in private.

According to Tejpal and his lawyers, the complainant’s statement — in which she accused him of raping her inside a lift of a five-star hotel in Goa — was fallacious because it didn’t seem to “match” the version of events captured in the footage.

Their argument hinged on a cruel technicality: The accused didn’t correctly remember the assault.

It’s impossible to ignore how frequently an assault victim’s own memory is used against him/her. It’s exploited to belittle not just their own testimony but also the imprint of the crime on the psyche, normalising the assumption that a victim’s memory should be a fail-safe alibi. Especially when an assault victim’s memory is the biggest obstacle — unreliable, repressed, and always on revision mode.

Jennifer Fox’s autobiographical The Tale — which can be streamed on Hotstar — goads introspection on this very aftermath of abuse. Headlined by an electric Laura Dern essaying the 48-year-old Fox, who’s forced to re-examine the wreckage of her past, the film is a searing portrait of sexual abuse and the excavation of memory.

Based on the director’s personal experiences, The Tale starts with a voiceover by Dern (as Fox) saying, “The story you are about to hear is true — as far as I know.” What seems initially like a harmless sentence is given a context-laden makeover of sinister proportions by the end of the film.

After returning from a work trip to India, Fox, a documentary filmmaker and professor, comes home to a barrage of frantic voicemails from her mother. While going through some documents at home, her mother had chanced upon a short story that Fox had written when she was barely 13, as part of a school assignment. Titled ‘The Tale’, the story highlighted a sexual encounter between a teenage Fox and a 40-something running coach named Bill when she spent a summer on a ranch with her riding instructor, Mrs G, who was Bill’s lover. In her story, Fox describes the encounter as a “beautiful experience”.

Her mother insists that Bill had raped the teen under the enabling eyes of Mrs G. This perplexed Fox, as she had always counted the incident as her first relationship, which happened to be with an older man, and not an abuse of power. Except, as we find out, that was hardly the case. Fox finds herself forced to delve deep and investigate the dark recesses of her memory.

Did she really enter into a consensual relationship with an older man or was it just a story she had designed to protect herself from the trauma?

With a heartbreaking sequence that is nothing short of a cinematic coup, the film paints a portrait of how unreliable an assault victim’s memory is. In her head, the 13-year-old Fox was a slender teen on the cusp of adulthood and the flashback scene fittingly shows her as an almost-grown woman. But a little later, she finds an old picture of herself and realises that the image in her head was from when she was 15. In reality, the 13-year-old Fox was a shy pre-pubescent child. Instantly, in the flashback, we see her shrinking and becoming a younger, and tinier, version of herself.

It’s a scene that evokes unbridled horror because it makes us acutely aware of the fact that Fox was just a child when she lost her virginity. We understand that there was no way she could have given consent to the sexual encounter and recognise that she was raped.

It’s telling how the audience is apprised of the abuse before the film’s lead is able to solve the puzzle, for, unlike us, she is in a constant battle with her repressed memories. Memories that have constantly unsettled her and, yet, not torn her apart because she had subconsciously locked them in her mind’s storage room with no key.

By emphasising how little Fox could trust her memory, The Tale forces us to discern that when someone is assaulted, so is their mind — blocking their own memories becomes not only their language, but also their instant cure. It reminds us that trauma and shock can last for years, nibbling away at one’s capability of accurate recollection.

But, most important, it makes us realise that confronting their own memory is a privilege not all victims can afford.

Poulomi Das is a film and pop-culture writer based in Mumbai

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Veteran Actress Reeta Bhaduri passes away #RIP

January 11, 1951 — July 17, 2018

Reeta Bhaduri’s friends recount stories of her talent, kindness and rare professionalism in the wake of her demise at age 67 in Mumbai

Veteran actress Reeta Bhaduri, who suffered from prolonged renal illnesses, passed away at 67 on Tuesday in Mumbai. “Her health started deteriorating two weeks ago and she succumbed to cardiac arrest,” her niece, Mini, told Mirror.

Anil Kapoor, who worked with the late actress in films like BetaGhar Ho Toh Aisa and Virasat, decribed her as “one of the finest talents to come out of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII)”. Shabana Azmi, the actress’s 1973 FTII batchmate, who kept in touch with her through their WhatsApp Group chats, informed that Reeta had injured her spine during a shoot a month ago and subsequently contracted an infection for which she had to undergo surgery.

“She was in excruciating pain as she couldn’t be administered strong painkillers due to ongoing dialysis,” said Shabana, adding that their friends called her Tanuja because of her effervescence. “There was something cute and impish about her. She was a good student and had the prettiest face in the class. She was extremely photogenic, but I felt that she didn’t take her talent seriously. As a student, she was happy to be one of the yaars, chewing Paan Bahar and not caring about appearances. Her mother Chandrima Bhaduri, a veteran actress, was ambitious for her but Reeta was content with what she had,” she added.

Zarina Wahab, another FTII batchmate and her co-star in the Rajshri film Saawan Ko Aane Do, couldn’t make it to the funeral, which took place at noon on Tuesday, due to work commitments, but promised to attend the chautha. “I had met her last a year ago,” she informed. Meanwhile Poonam Dhillon, who acted with her in the daily soap Ekk Nayi Pehchaan in 2013, recalled how once, Reeta wasn’t feeling well but no one knew about it till she fainted. “Later, she admited she didn’t tell anyone as she didn’t want to disrupt the shoot.”

Anant Mahadevan, who worked with the late actress in the 1992 film Kamsin and many TV shows, remembered her as affable and lively yet a thorough professional. “We were frequent co-stars during the golden years of Indian television, our first interaction during a press preview of Phoolan in which she played the lead,” he reminisced.

One of Reeta’s more recent colleagues, Juhi Parmar of the 2012 TV show Kumkum — Ek Pyara Sa Bandhan, has fond memories of her Reeta maa. “She was such a zindadil, strong woman who brought food for me to take home for months when I didn’t have a cook. Spending time with her at her Lonavla home was one of my best New Year’s Eve memories for me,” she stated.

Reeta’s daughter from the show Sunday Ke Sunday, Sadiya Siddiqui, recalls her as a voracious reader. “Her niece and I learnt kathak from the same guru, so I’m close to her family and was very possessive of her,” Sadiya smiled, while Kabir Sadanand, who’d first met Reeta while auditioning for the show Thoda Hai Thode Ki Zarurat Hai, described their first meeting as his best day in the industry. “Despite years of theatre experience, I was scared. I reported at work at 7 am with an empty-stomach. She cooked eggs and offered them to me. When I politely refused, she said she was nervous on her first day too and I should toughen up,” he flashbacked.

Sanjay Kapoor shared screen space with Reeta in his debut film, Raja, and swore by her screen presence. “The scene where her character has an outburst and she yells at her husband, ‘Kaat Mahindra Pratap kaat’… still gives me goosebumps,” he asserted while Indra Kumar, who directed her in Beta and Raja, remembered her as a “remarkable actor and a great human being”. Her Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa co-star Suchitra Krishnamoorthy described her “as a fine actor and a kind soul”.

Deven Bhojani, who directed her in the hit show Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai, was all praise for her portrayal of Ila bua. “She was fluent in various languages, disciplined and a zerotantrum actress.” Aatish Kapadia, the show’s writer and co-director, informed that she’d played the lead in the first serial he wrote, the 1987 Gujarati show Aagan Tuk. “When we offered her Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai, she came on board without enquiring about the role,” he marvelled while JD Majethia admitted that her character didn’t become as popular as the others but for her work was important. “She was the superstar of several Gujarati hits yet one of the easiest people to work with and a top choices in her age group for all production houses,” he stated. Aatish and Reeta reunited for another show. “She’d hang around after packup to chat with me,” he smiled at the memory.

Rubina Dilaik was heart-broken she couldn’t meet the lady who’d feed the Chhoti Bahu unit dhoklas every month one last time. “We were planning to but couldn’t due to our schedule,”she rued.

Gulshan Grover, who studied alongside Anil Kapoor at Roshan Taneja’s acting school, recounted a lesser known facet from his senior. “She touched my heart with one of her improvisations in class, playing a Gujarati girl who would stop at a Malabari shop every day for bread and eggs. Salim Ghouse played the Malabari man and their romace was beautiful and tendeer, so unlike the usual hero-heroine love story,” he sighed.

Zama Habib, producer of Reeta’s last show, Nimki Mukhiya, informed that she had not been shooting since the last 20 days due to the health issues. “She requested that we replace her but I refused to comply. I didn’t know she would never come back,” the maker signed off emotionally.

Reeta Bhaduri’s alma mater FTII paid tribute with a screening of the student film Safar, in which she featured with Tom Alter. “Students, staff and teachers stood in silence in her memory… It was the last film for both. Reeta Bhaduri acted in over 70 films and around 30 TV serials,” it shared on Twitter; Actress in TV show Nimki Mukhiya (inset)

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Did Priyanka Chopra wear a burqa while meeting Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh?

In May 2018, Priyanka Chopra’s visit to a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh’s Cox Bazaar as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador invited much slander and abuse. Now, a photograph showing Chopra wearing a burqa is being shared across social media platforms with the claim that the actress had donned the attire when she met ‘extremist’ Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh.

The above post is by the Facebook page Yogi Adityanath Ki Sena. It was posted on July 5 and has been shared more than 11,000 times so far. The accompanying message says, “दोगले फ़िल्मबाजों का दोगलापन, भारत मे घूमो तो फूहड़ परिधान लेकिन बांग्लादेश के कट्टरवादी रोहिंग्या मुसलमानों से मिलते समय बुरखा” (Hypocrisy of hypocrite film stars, will wear anything in India but will wear burqa when meeting extremist Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh- translation). 

Individual users on Facebook have shared/uploaded this photograph, and it has also been shared by social media users on Twitter.

Where is the photograph from?

In 2011, Priyanka Chopra had starred in a movie directed by Vishal Bharadwaj named ‘Saat Khoon Maaf’. It was for this movie that Chopra had donned a burqa. The photograph dates back to 2010. It was uploaded by Outlook on its website.

Priyanka Chopra at the site of shooting for ‘Saat Khoon Maaf’ at Srinagar, 2010. Source: Outlook

Posted below is a YouTube video of an extract from the movie in which Priyanka Chopra can be seen wearing the same burqa.

There is yet another occasion where Chopra wore a burqa. This was tweeted by her in October 2015 and was part of the promotional campaign for Quantico.

The Facebook page ‘Yogi Adityanath ki Sena‘ which shared the misleading image of Priyanka Chopra is notorious for spreading mis/disinformation in form of fake or misleading quotes, images and videos. Some of the instances documented by Alt News include fake quotes attributed to Jyotiraditya ScidiaRavish KumarRana Ayyub and Nana Patekar.

Actress Priyanka Chopra has been at the receiving end of right-wing trolling on social media in recent times.  Recently, a controversial episode of the American television series Quanticowhich showed a Hindu extremist as part of a terror plot on New York had attracted much criticism and ridicule, coming shortly on the heels of her visit to the Rohingya refugee camp. Now, the actress is once again in the crosshairs and continues to be targeted relentlessly.

Did Priyanka Chopra wear a burqa while meeting Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh?

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Pyaasa Meets Parichay: Remembering Guru Dutt and Sanjeev Kumar on their birth anniversaries today

Guru Dutt and Sanjeev Kumar birth anniversaries: Guru Dutt and Sanjeev Kumar’s turbulent, tragic and unlucky-in-love personas haunted the two stars throughout their life, cruelly and creatively manifesting itself both on screen and off it.

Guru Dutt, Sanjeev Kumar, Guru Dutt birthday, Sanjeev Kumar birthday, Guru Dutt films, Guru Dutt photos, Guru Dutt Sanjeev Kumar birth anniversariesEven though Guru Dutt and Sanjeev Kumar never worked together, they do share a curious link – K Asif’s Love And God.Even though they belonged to entirely different Bollywood eras, it is no mere coincidence that Guru Dutt and Sanjeev Kumar, two of Hindi cinema’s greatest legends, were born on the same day (July 9). As you will find out, Dutt and Kumar have a few things in common starting, undeniably, with their tragic young deaths. Gripped by depression Dutt committed suicide at 39, leaving behind not only a rich legacy of popular classics such as Pyaasa, Kaagaz Ke Phool and Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam but also a handful of unfinished films, including Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi which was ultimately released with Dharmendra as his replacement.

On the other hand, Kumar, who excelled at playing older characters complete with salt-and-pepper hair, languid gait and a shawl draped gracefully over his sturdy, manly shoulders, died catastrophically young at 47. As if that setback wasn’t enough, tragedy struck Kumar’s family as one of his brothers had passed away before him while another died shortly after him. Like Dutt, Kumar also left in his wake incomplete productions and several projects that released after his demise.

Their turbulent, tragic and unlucky-in-love personas haunted the two stars throughout their life, cruelly and creatively manifesting itself both on screen and off it. Here’s a quick look at their films and lives.

Guru Dutt

The memory of Guru Dutt is very much alive even today and it works on multiple levels. Within the industry, Dutt is vociferously admired for his courageous and ground-breaking work. Countless contemporary filmmakers and stars, ranging from Mahesh Bhatt and Anurag Kashyap to Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchandraw their daily sustenance from the Prophet of Pyaasa. To those who make films and work in them, Dutt remains an inspiration as someone who made deeply personal films despite commercial temptations. For avid film watchers, Dutt’s angst-ridden work, whether it is the misanthropic poet of Pyaasa, the doomed filmmaker of Kaagaz Ke Phool, the Lucknowi lover boy of Waheeda Rehman in Chaudhvin Ka Chand or the cartoonist (“not communist”) of the breezy comedy Mr and Mrs 55, is a treasure trove. And then, there’s the Guru Dutt who spawned a cottage industry of film academics. Collectively, Pyaasa and Kaagaz Ke Phool may have inspired more books and analytical essays in the last decade than any other Hindi classic. Dutt’s films splendidly combined the social concerns of the time (he retained the socialist heart even in songs, usually penned by friend Sahir Ludhianvi) with fine commercial sensibilities. Those were Dutt’s professional highs. There were lows, too. Kaagaz Ke Phool, his 1959 labour of love that has become a cult classic since, was a resounding flop upon initial response sending Dutt into depression. He was to never again accept credit as a director, leaving that dirty job to trusted aide Abrar Alvi. The film’s failure disturbed him more so due to its semi-autobiographical story, borrowed from Dutt’s life as a filmmaker.

guru dutt

Kaagaz Ke Phool was his very own 8½ that furthered an impression of him among the film crowd as a cinematic poet, philosopher and cynic. His life, as his films, had a lyrical quality. Much has been written and rumoured about Dutt’s tormented personal life. While he was married to singer Geeta Dutt, his affair with newcomer Waheeda Rehman is said to have led him on a path to self-destruction. Something similar transpired with Sanjeev Kumar, who was in love with Hema Malini. The Dream Girl’s rejection shattered him.

Sanjeev Kumar

Like Guru Dutt whose birth name was Vasanth Kumar Shivashankar Padukone, Sanjeev Kumar was born Harihar Jethalal Jariwala, popularly known as Haribhai in the Hindi film circle. In Kaagaz Ke Phool’s iconic and poignant ending, we see Guru Dutt as a shawl-clad old man doddering about the film studios where he spent his salad days. This was to become, many years later, Sanjeev Kumar’s adopted look in several hit Bollywood films of the 1970s and 80s. Of course, it’s too far-fetched to say that Kumar was inspired by Dutt. He may have been, who knows, but there’s no evidence to suggest that. What unites Dutt and Kumar, decades apart, are the roles and films that defied norms and their propensity towards tragic and dramatic characters. They could just as easily (and effortlessly) switch to romantic comedies. Kumar, mostly in collaboration with Gulzar, essayed at times, sensitive, tragic, poetic and at others, light-hearted and breezy comedies, in films like Koshish, Aandhi, Parichay, Sholay, Mausam, Angoor and Namkeen. This was not unlike Dutt.

Sanjeev Kumar

Poet Sahir Ludhianvi was to Guru Dutt what Gulzar was to Sanjeev Kumar. And though Kumar is regarded as one of the finest Indian actors of all time, Guru Dutt was not half as good in front of the camera as he was behind it, a fact acknowledged by Abrar Alvi, the “alleged” director of Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962). “I personally wasn’t keen on Guru Dutt playing Bhootnath (in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam), or, for that matter, the hero even in my comedies. I felt, and still feel that as an actor he was stilted, and his real talent lay in direction,” Alvi was candidly quoted as saying in Ten Years With Guru Dutt, a book by Sathya Saran.

It’s our loss that Dutt and Kumar never worked together. However, there’s a link that connects the two and that link is K Asif. Asif did announce Love And God, an Arabian fable as forgettable as Mughal-E-Azam is memorable, with Guru Dutt as the leading man. Dutt died midway, leaving the film incomplete. K Asif eventually revived the shelved project with Sanjeev Kumar. The film, released in 1986, has Kumar in a role that’s part Lawrence of Arabia, part Mughal-E-Azam.

Wonder how Guru Dutt would have played the Arabic prince.

(Shaikh Ayaz is a writer and journalist based in Mumbai)

Pyaasa Meets Parichay: Remembering Guru Dutt and Sanjeev Kumar on their birth anniversaries today

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FTII expels 2 from hostel for ‘hum dekhenge’ graffiti #FOE

Students’ plea on the words borrowed from a Faiz Ahmad Faiz poem falls on deaf ears, as director terms it sullying of the revamped canteen and breach of discipline

In a step that has drawn severe criticism from students “for curbing freedom of expression”, the administration of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) has asked two inmates to vacate their hostel rooms by Saturday for drawing graffiti on the walls of the newly renovated canteen on July 4.

The facility at FTII was renovated and inaugurated on July 3. Security guards at the canteen found two students — one from the 2012 direction batch and the other from the 2016 camera batch — drawing graffiti early on July

4. According to the administration, the guards confronted the students but they continued “defacing” the walls.

Students have drawn a few graffiti, which included words like “hum dekhenge”, from a poem by Faiz Ahmad Faiz. On July 5, both the students — one from Kerala and the other from West Bengal — were issued notices to vacate their hostel rooms by July 7.

On the other hand, several students gathered on the campus and showed their displeasure against the institute for issuing such notices on regularly. Robin Joy, president, FTII Students’ Association, said, “Drawing graffiti on the walls of FTII has always been a way of expression for students. This is not the first time we have had graffiti on the wall. Also, the two students are not from Maharashtra and if they are removed from the hostel all of a sudden, it will be difficult for them to find accommodation. We also tried convincing the directors that the words written are not threatening or intentional but just borrowed from a poem but we have been misunderstood.”

Joy added that there have been too many restrictions on students since the past couple of years. “For every small thing, we have to seek permission from the administration. We are also getting notices for various trivial issues. This is nothing but institutional harassment. It is definitely not easy to get admission in this institute and we have also heard a lot about its rich history and how seniors have displayed their creativity on campus. If drawing graffiti was wrong then the institute should have taken a different punitive measure. Removing students from the hostel is not right.”

According to the notice, the two students will also have to leave the campus daily after 7 pm and will not be allowed on campus during weekends. In case students want an exception, they will have to take permission from the administration. Echoing Joy, another student said, “Earlier, it was easy for us to organise programmes on campus but for the same, now we have to seek permission three weeks in advance. The institute is supposed to encourage freedom of expression but for every other reason, the administration threatens us with security guards who have been given power to even detain us.”

FTII director Bhupendra Kainthola said, “Two students have drawn graffiti with intimidating slogans and defaced the wall and doors of our revamped canteen. The act was carried out stealthily in the dead of the night. The act by the students is unacceptable. Several FTII alumni, many of them leading industry lights, who had welcomed the complete makeover of the canteen are aghast at this defilement. They have also condemned the duo’s act. Many students, staff members and teachers are also saddened by this act of gross indiscipline.”

While the administration has also asked the students to apologise for their deed and clean the graffiti from the wall, the latter have reverted by saying that such notices not be issued as they are not children. Joy said, “We are not kids anymore and should not be made to apologise. Removal of students from hostel just for drawing graffiti is unacceptable.”

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178 Women Film Practitioners across genres condemn AMMA’s move to reinstate Actor Dileep

Express solidarity with women artistes in the Kerala film industry


On the night of February 17, 2018, a well known actress, who has worked in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu films, was kidnapped and molested in a moving car while she was on her way from Thrissur to Kochi.

Five months later,  popular Malayalam actor, Dileep, was arrested because of his alleged involvement in the molestation case. He has been accused of hatching a plot with the prime accused, Pulsar Suni and his associates, for abducting and assaulting the actress in a moving car.

A day after his arrest, he was expelled from the primary membership of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA).

However, recently, after actor Mohanlal took over as chairman of AMMA, the accused actor Dileep’s suspension from AMMA was revoked.

This decision has sent shock waves throughout the Malayalam film industry and four leading actresses who are members of the association have resigned from the AMMA. The recently formed Women in Cinema Collective, based out of Kerala, has also come out strongly to protest this decision.

In yet another show of solidarity, 178  women film practitioners from all genres across India have come together to sign a letter of protest. These include Nandita Das, Renuka Shahane, Gitanjali Rao, Namrata Rao, Shweta Venkat, Aruna Raje, Lovleen Mishra, Sheeba Chadha, Aruna Vasudev, Shama Zaidi, Nalini Malini, among several others.

Statement from Women Film Practitioners:

As women working in film across genres and industries in India we received the news of AMMA ( Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes) reinstating actor Dileep, who is an accused in the abduction and molestation of an actor, with shock and deep disappointment.

A body that is meant to represent artistes of the Malayalam movie industry showed complete disregard for its own member who is the victim of this gross crime. Even before the case has reached its conclusion, AMMA has chosen to validate a person accused of a very serious crime against a colleague. We condemn this cavalier attitude by artistes against women artistes who are working alongside them. There is misogyny and gender discrimination embedded in this action.

We admired and supported the Women in Cinema Collective that was formed by women film artistes in Kerala in the aftermath of the abduction and molestation of a colleague, a top star in the industry. We applaud the WCC members who have walked out of AMMA to protest the chairman’s invitation to reinstate the accused.  We pledge our continued support to the Women in Cinema Collective who are blazing a trail to battle sexism in the film industry.

Cinema is an art form that can challenge deeply entrenched violence and discrimination in society. It is distressing to see an industry that stands amongst the best in the country and has even made a mark in world cinema choose to shy away from using their position and their medium responsibly at this important moment. Today women form a significant part of the film and media industries, we reject any attempt at silencing us and making us invisible.

Associations representing film workers have to function through democratic processes and we have to ensure that a few powerful members cannot subvert and marginalise voices of those less powerful than them. As women we are starkly aware of how vulnerable we are in every film industry. This is our attempt to come together and stand in solidarity with the Women in Cinema Collective and urge the chairman and other office bearers of AMMA to function with sensitivity and responsibility, and above all democratically.


  1. Aanchal Kapur, Researcher, Film Curator, New Delhi
  2. Aaradhana Kapur Kohli, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  3. Aditi Pinto, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  4. Akshay Gouri, Film Student, Kolkata
  5. Aliza Noor Khan, Media practitioner, Hyderabad
  6. Ambarien al Qadr, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  7. Amira Sultan Kapur, Media practitioner, Chandigarh
  8. Ananya Chakraborti, Filmmaker, Kolkata
  9. Anjali Monteiro, Filmmaker, Academic, Mumbai
  10. Anjali Punjabi, Producer, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  11. Anubha Yadav, Writer, Academic, New Delhi
  12. Anupama Chandra, Filmmaker, Film Editor, New Delhi
  13. Anupama Srinivasan, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  14. Aparna Sanyal, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  15. Apurwa Yagnik, Film Editor, Filmmaker, Jaipur
  16. Archana Borhade, Cinematographer, Mumbai
  17. Archana Kapoor, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  18. Aradhna Seth, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  19. Aruna Raje, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  20. Aruna Vasudev, Scholar, Author, Film Festival Director, New Delhi
  21. Arunima Shankar, Film Editor, Goa
  22. Ayisha Abraham, Academic, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
  23. Batul Mukhtiar, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  24. Bela Negi, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  25. Bishakha Dutta, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  26. Chandita Mukherjee, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  27. Damini Benny Basu, Actor, Kolkata
  28. Debadrita Bose, Filmmaker, Kolkata
  29. Debalina Majumdar, Filmmaker, Kolkata
  30. Debjani Mukherjee, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  31. Deepa Dhanraj, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
  32. Deepika Sharma, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  33. Deepti Khurana, Academic, Rohtak
  34. Deepti Pant, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  35. Dinaz Stafford, Casting Director, Mumbai
  36. Dipti Bhalla Verma, Film Editor, Filmmaker, Gurgaon
  37. Ekavali Khanna, Film Actor, Kolkata
  38. Fareeda AM, Film Editor
  39. Farha Khatun, Filmmaker, Film Editor, Kolkata
  40. Gargi Sen, Media Practitioner, New Delhi
  41. Gauri D Chakraborty, Academic, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  42. Geeta Sahai, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  43. Gissy Michael, Sound Recordist and Designer, Mumbai
  44. Gita Raju, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  45. Gitanjali Rao, Animation Director, Mumbai
  46. Gouri Patwardhan, Filmmaker, Pune
  47. Gopi Desai, Actor, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  48. Guneet Monga, Film Producer, Mumbai
  49. HansaThapliyal, Filmmaker, Bangeluru
  50. Heer Ganjwala, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  51. Hemanti Sarkar, Film Editor, Mumbai
  52. Iggy Ahluwalia, Art Director, Bombay
  53. Indrani, Student, Writer, Kolkata
  54. Irene Dhar Malik, Film Editor, Mumbai
  55. Ishani Roy, Cinematographer, Mumbai
  56. Jabeen Merchant, Film Editor, Mumbai
  57. Jayoo Patwardhan, Filmmaker, Pune
  58. Jenny Pinto, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
  59. Jeroo Mulla, Academic, Mumbai
  60. Jill Misquitta, Filmmaker, Kodaikanal
  61. Jyoti Kapur Das, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  62. Kasturi, Filmmaker, Film movement worker, Kolkata
  63. Kavita Joshi, Filmmaker, Media Trainer, New Delhi
  64. Kirtana Kumar, Actor/Director, Bangalore
  65. Koel Sen, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  66. Kunjila Mascillamani, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  67. Lalitha Krishna, Filmmaker, Film Editor, Mumbai
  68. Layashree Joshi, Filmmaker, Kolkata
  69. Leena Manimekalai, Filmmaker, Chennai
  70. Leena Yadav, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  71. Lipika Singh Darai, Filmmaker, Film Editor, sound Recordist, Bhubaneshwar, Mumbai
  72. Lovleen Mishra, Film Actor, Mumbai
  73. Madhavi Tangella, Filmmaker, Academic, Kolkata
  74. Madhuja Mukherjee, Academic, Artist, Filmmaker, Kolkata
  75. Madhusree Dutta, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  76. Maheen Mirza, Filmmaker, Cinematographer, Bhopal
  77. Malini Dasari, Cinematographer, Hyderabad
  78. Mansi Pingle, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
  79. Manoshi Nath, Costume Designer, Mumbai
  80. Meenakshi Barooah, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  81. Minnie Vaid, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  82. Miriam Chandy, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  83. Moupia Mukherjee, Writer, Gender Exponent and Film Maker, Kolkata
  84. Nabeela Rizvi, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  85. Nalini Malani, Visual Artist, Mumbai
  86. Namita Nayak Chopra, Sound Recordist and Designer, New Delhi
  87. Namrata Rao, Film Editor, Mumbai
  88. Nandita Das, Actor, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  89. Natasha Badhwar, Cinematographer, Author, New Delhi
  90. Neena Verma, Film Editor, Pune
  91. Neha Parti Matiyani, Cinematographer, Mumbai
  92. Nidhi Sharma, Film Student, Kolkata
  93. Nilita Vachani, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  94. Nina Sabnani, Academic, Animation Filmmaker, Mumbai
  95. Nishtha Jain, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  96. Nupur Basu, Filmmaker, Journalist, Bengaluru
  97. Padmaja Shaw, Academic, Filmmaker, Hyderabad
  98. Paramita Ghosh, Film Editor, Mumbai
  99. Paromita Vohra, Filmmaker, Script Writer, Mumbai
  100. Pinky Brahma Choudhury, Filmmaker, Bagli
  101. Priya Thuvassery, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  102. Priyanka Chhabra, Filmmaker, Film Editor, New Delhi
  103. Priyanka Gaikwad, Sound Recordist
  104. Pooja Gupte, Cinematographer, Mumbai
  105. Pooja Sharma, Cinematographer, Mumbai
  106. Puloma Paul, Film Editor, Mumbai
  107. Putul Mahmood, Filmmaker, Academic, Kolkata
  108. Radha Misra, Academic, Pune
  109. Ranu Ghosh, Cinematographer, Filmmaker, Kolkata
  110. Rajashree , Filmmaker, Novelist, Mumbai
  111. Reema Borah, Filmmaker, Guwahati, Mumbai
  112. Reena Mohan, Filmmaker, Film Editor, New Delhi
  113. Rekha Nigam, Script Writer, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  114. Renuka Shahane, Actor, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  115. Richa Hushing, Filmmaker, Puducherry
  116. Ridhima Mehra, Film Producer, New Delhi
  117. Rinchin, Script Writer, Bhopal
  118. Ruchika Negi, Filmmaker, Academic, New Delhi
  119. Ruchika Oberoi, Filmmaker, Script writer, Mumbai
  120. Rukshana Tabassum, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  121. Saba Dewan, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  122. Sabeena Gadihoke, Academic, Cinematographer, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  123. Sagari Chhabra, Author, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  124. Sakshi Gulati, Filmmaker, Pune
  125. Sanchali Mukhopadhyay, Cinematographer, Kolkata
  126. Sameera Jain, Filmmaker, Academic, New Delhi
  127. Samina Mishra, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  128. Sampritee Ghatak, Actor, Kolkata
  129. Sania Farooqui, TV Anchor, Journalist, New Delhi
  130. Sanghamitra Deb, Actor/Performer, Kolkata
  131. Sayani Gupta, Film Actor, Mumbai
  132. Sehjo Singh, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  133. Shabani Hassanwalia, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  134. Shabnam Sukhdev, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  135. Shanthi Mohan, Cinematographer, Mumbai
  136. Sharmistha Jha, Filmmaker, Kolkata
  137. Shama Zaidi, Script Writer, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  138. Shashwati Talukdar, Filmmaker, Dehradun
  139. Sheeba Chadha, Film Actor, Mumbai
  140. Sherna Dastur, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  141. Shikha Sen, Film Editor, New Delhi
  142. Shilpi Gulati, Filmmaker, Researcher, New Delhi
  143. Shubhangini, Film Student, Kolkata
  144. Shrushti Rao, Film Student, Kolkata
  145. Shweta Ghosh, Filmmaker, Film Scholar, Pune
  146. Shweta Venkat, Film Editor, Mumbai
  147. Simantini Dhuru, Educationist, Filmmaker, Mumai
  148. Smriti Nevatia, Film Curator, Mumbai
  149. Solanki Chakroborty, Cinematographer, Mumbai
  150. Sonali Jha Chatterjee, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  151. Sohini Dasgupta, Filmmaker, Kolkata
  152. Sreecheta Das, Filmmaker, Kolkata
  153. Sreemoyee Bhattacharya, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  154. Sruti Viswesaran, Filmmaker, Film Editor, Mumbai
  155. Subasri Krishnan, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  156. Suchitra Sathe, Film Editor, Pune
  157. Sudarshana Chakroborty, Filmmaker, Journalist, Kolkata
  158. Sujata Kundu, Filmmaker, Editor, Academic, Kolkata
  159. Suhasini Mulay, Actor, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  160. Sunanda Bhat, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
  161. Surabhi Sharma, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  162. Sushma Veerappa, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
  163. Suzanne Caplan Merwanji, Filmmkaer, Mumbai
  164. Swati Dandekar, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
  165. Teena Kaur, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  166. Teena Gill, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  167. Tinni Mitra, Film Editor, Mumbai
  168. T. Jayashree, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
  169. T.N. Uma Devi, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  170. Yasha Ramchandani, Film Editor, Mumbai
  171. Yashodara Udupa, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
  172. Urmi Juvekar, Script writer, Mumbai
  173. Usha Bhasin, TV Producer, New Delhi
  174. Usha Rao, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
  175. Vanaja C, Filmmaker, Hyderabad
  176. Vasundhara Phadke, Film Editor, Mumbai
  177. Veena Bakshi, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  178. Vineeta Negi, Film Editor, Pune

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NWMI Stands with Women in Cinema Collective, Protests AMMA’s Reinstatement of Dileep

The Network of Women in Media India (NWMI) strongly condemns the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes’ (AMMA) decision to reinstate actor Dileep who stands accused of being the mastermind behind the abduction and assault of a prominent woman actor from the Malayalam film industry in February 2017.

The decision to reinstate the accused has been taken without consulting the members of AMMA, particularly the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) of which the survivor is a member. The survivor and three other members resigned from AMMA on June 27, in protest.

We salute the members of the WCC who openly risked their career opportunities by resigning from AMMA in disgust at the misogynistic treatment of a survivor of sexual assault. We recall with pride that the beacon of self-respecting women in film industry was first kindled in India in February 2017, when the rape-survivor from Malayalam movie industry boldly spoke out, months before Hollywood woke up to the “Me Too” movement.

It is with dismay that we note that within a week of Padmashri Mohanlal taking over as the president of AMMA, Dileep was hastily re-admitted to the organisation. The National Award-winning actor has also been bestowed with the honorary title of lieutenant colonel and it is unbecoming that the organisation should take such an insensitive decision under his leadership.

In a letter issued to the film body on June 28, three other WCC members who continue to be members of AMMA, have pointed out that they were not consulted about the decision to take Dileep back into their fold and demanded to know the basis on which he was welcomed back into the association. They have called for a general body meeting to discuss their concerns. The air has been rife with questions, but AMMA President Mohanlal is alarmingly silent.

Dileep, alleged to be the conspirator of the abduction and molestation of a colleague, is more than only the seventh accused in the actor-molestation case. He is actor, producer, distributor and movie-house owner and has been in the steering committees of all these guilds. The woman who survived the sexual assault, had earlier complained to AMMA that this powerful man from the industry had been influencing producers to avoid casting her. Instead of supporting her, AMMA jumped at the chance to re-instate Dileep’s membership, unabashedly revealing its oligarchic and patriarchal beliefs.

In yet another shocking expression of its misogyny, AMMA’s fund-raising show had a skit that ridiculed the brave new brigade of WCC. We are aghast that the masters of AMMA could find patriarchy-conditioned women to pen the distastefully anti-women skit and enact it.

It is a grave situation that the film industry in India’s most literate State is apparently completely unaware of the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal Act, 2013.

Further, Mr Mukesh, the Vice-President of AMMA, is also the CPI(M) MLA from Kollam. We demand that as an elected representative who is duty bound to uphold the law, he asks AMMA to withdraw its decision to reinstate the man until his name has been legally cleared. Other members of AMMA too hold important positions of office, like actor Innocent who is an MP and actor Ganesh Kumar, who is an MLA.

While it is heartening that several Left Ministers in Kerala have condemned the re-admission of Dileep to the AMMA fold, nevertheless, NWMI feels let down by the CPI(M), for its lack of moral, social and political accountability for the gender-insensitive statements and actions of its two MLAs and one MP, who are decision-makers in AMMA.

The NWMI expresses its solidarity with the survivor and the Women in Cinema Collective, and stands with the Collective in its fight for justice. We demand that:

1. AMMA hold the emergency Executive meeting called for by the WCC
2. AMMA ensure that the survivor feels sufficiently secure continuing work in the Malayalam film industry.
3. Allegations about AMMA silencing those who speak out against the accused be investigated without any delay.
4. AMMA put in place robust mechanisms to address gender inequality and women’s safety in the Malayalam film industry.

With the gutsy women of WCC, NWMI awaits a new dawn of gender equity in the film industry.

The Network of Women in Media, India

June 28, 2018

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Kaala is for Dalits in India what Black Panther is for African-Americans in US

The movie is Indian cinema’s strongest statement yet in favour of Dalit assertiveness and mobilisation.


With doubts continuing to loom over Rajinikanth’s political affiliations, Pa Ranjith’s Kaala, starring the actor, has surprisingly emerged as a formidable critique of right wing Hindutva politics.

Set in Dharavi, Kaala pits Rajiniknath’s Godfatheresque Tamil gangster, Kaala Karikaalan, against Nana Patekar’s upper class politician Haridev Abhyankar, who considers the slum-dwellers of Dharavi to be beneath him.

Ranjith makes conscious attempts in Kaala to try and subvert the norms, by dressing his hero in all black. Ranjith makes conscious attempts in Kaala to try and subvert the norms, by dressing his hero in all black.

Abhyankar calls himself a “patriot” who wants to “clean this country”. “Pure India” and “Digital Dharavi” are his slogans and he is, in his own words, “born to rule”. A dapper man who loves to dress in the brightest shades of white, he insists that people must greet him by touching his feet.

When Abhyankar comes to visit Kaala, he refuses to have even water at his place. Later on, when he confronts Kaala, he brags about his endless evil deeds (such as orchestrating communal riots) that have helped him reach the top of the political pyramid. Not to mention that he heads a political outfit called Navbharat Nationalist Party. Clearly, all these traits make Abhyankar the quintessential right wing Hindutva supremacist, who sees himself above everyone else.

Now, by choosing an adversary like Abhyankar against a Dalit slum leader like Kaala, who proudly names his son Lenin, Ranjith leaves little to the imagination. Moreover, time and again, he has never shied away from acknowledging his fascination for Ambedkar’s ideology and social approach to problems of inequality and injustice — the recurring theme in his small but impressive body of work.

It would be fair to say that Kaala is his most vocal response till date to Hindutva’s anti-Dalit agenda. Now, according to the report titled Constitutional and Legal Challenges Faced by Religious Minorities in India, sponsored by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), hate crimes, social boycotts, assaults, etc. against Dalits and religious minority communities have escalated dramatically ever since the BJP came to power in 2014.

One of the most infamous examples of this disturbing trend was the Bhima-Koregaon violence, that was reportedly triggered by an attack by right wing groups on Dalits during an event organised to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the historic Anglo-Marathi battle.

However, in a recent turn of events, the Pune police, under questionable circumstances, have arrested five Dalit activists in connection with the violence against their fellow Dalits.

Patekar's Abhyankar is the quintessential right-wing Hindutva supremacist, who sees himself above everyone else.Patekar’s Abhyankar is the quintessential right-wing Hindutva supremacist, who sees himself above everyone else.

Now, there is a scene in Kaala where a group of rioters, funded by Abhyankar, disguised as Hindus and Muslims, try to instigate the people of Dharavi in the name of religion. But before things go out of control, Kaala steps in and exposes their reality. What is Ranjith trying to suggest through the scene? Is he merely trying to say that communal riots are politically sponsored, or is the reference more direct?

In order to understand Ranjith’s intentions better, one needs to closely examine Kaala’s narrative, and how Abhyankar’s character is placed in it. For the movie’s first hour, we hardly get to see Abhyankar in person. Yet, his antagonistic image gets deeply etched in our memory through the countless posters and hoardings we see his smiling face on. It is as if he is looking down upon the people of Dharavi like some god.

Interestingly, the glowing smile on Abhyankar’s face bears an uncanny similarity to the radiant look of our Dear Leader. Is the similarity a mere coincidence? On one particular night, when Abhyankar’s perpetually smiling visage becomes unbearable for a Dalit youngster, he hurls a stone that makes a gaping hole in one of the hoardings, towering over the neighborhood, at the precise spot where Abhyankar’s mouth was. Minutes later, the youngster’s body is found hanging from the same hoarding.

His dislike for Abhyankar is seen as a revolt by the politician’s jingoistic supporters, and he ends up paying for it with his life. But there is a strong backlash, as Kaala and his supporters are able to exact revenge against the assailants. Is Ranjith merely trying to entertain his audience, or is he sending a message that the Dalits will no longer sit idle in response to upper caste atrocities?

Ranjith’s idealistic ideas about Dalit mobilisation may look a bit farfetched, but one cannot really deny the fact that today, Dalit activism is witnessing a rival of sorts in the context of Indian politics, especially with the rise of firebrand leaders like Jignesh Mevani.

Kaala is for the Dalits living in India what Black Panther was to the black population in the US.Kaala is for the Dalits living in India what Black Panther was to the black population in the US.

This resurgence of Dalit assertiveness is a result of the incessant assault that the community has been subjected to over the past few years. Sadly, in the recent years, Bollywood has failed to do justice to the real issues faced by the society at large, in particular the growing violence against Dalits and religious minority communities in the country.

It is here that a film like Kaala, made by a Dalit filmmaker in an industry that’s still predominantly controlled by upper caste Hindus, stands out with its crystal clear intention to not just reveal the naked truth, but also remind the weak about the importance of raising one’s voice against an order that thrives on spreading fear and hatred.

While Dalit issues are at the heart of Ranjith’s socio-political commentary, he also makes a strong case in favour of inter-religion marriages. In Kaala, he sends the right-wing notions of love jihad for a toss by strongly advocating Hindu-Muslim marriage. Kaala’s love interest in the film is a Tamil Muslim named Zareena. Although, Kaala and Zareena are apprehensive about their marriage, they surprisingly get firm support from their families, who openly choose love over religion.

But before they could actually get married, a communal riot erupts that kills hundreds of innocent people. Again, the perpetrators are not the denizens of Dharavi, but paid mercenaries. Several years later, when Abhyankar makes similar attempts to spread religious discord among the people of Dharavi, we discover that even the police are complicit.

But, under the leadership of a Dalit, the people of Dharavi seem immune to any such communal trigger. In an early scene, Ranjith sets the record straight by having Kaala offer prayers alongside the Muslim residents in the neighborhood. Also, towards the end of the film, when a journalist enquires a priest regarding the rumors of Kaala’s death, he refutes it, comparing the Dalit leader to Jesus Christ.

Kaala is unapologetic in its unabashed criticism of the right-wing Hindutva ideology that thrives on the politics of divide and rule. The film doesn’t back down from questioning the notions of good and bad that continue to be held in high esteem thanks to the Ramayana.

While the story’s hero Kaala likens himself to Ravan, the bad man Abhyankar is shown as an ardent disciple of Lord Rama. Now, since time immemorial, the colour white has stood for good and black for evil. But Ranjith makes conscious attempts in Kaala to try and subvert the norms, by dressing his hero in all black and villain in all white.

In Ranjith’s recreation of Dharavi, we also get a glimpse of a beef shop—a clear symbol of defiance to BJP’s cow politics. Also, there is a band of hip-hop performers dressed in denims singing about the need to fight injustice and upper class aggression.

It would be a wrong assessment to see Ranjith’s film as an elegy for the sufferings of the weak and the oppressed. For, it is more like a warning to those in power.

Also, it is Indian cinema’s strongest statement yet made in favour of Dalit assertiveness and mobilisation. Kaala is for the Dalits living in India what Black Panther was to the black population in the US.

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Sonam Kapoor’s in-laws spend millions on wedding but get their own workers assaulted

(Arya Sharma)

Through the last three months, as popular Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor was preparing for her marriage with industrialist Anand Ahuja, workers of the latter’s garment factory were nursing their wounds.

In April, at least 15 workers of the Unit 8 factory of Shahi Exports Pvt Ltd in Bengaluru were reportedly abused, thrashed and threatened with murder allegedly at the behest of the management.



All the workers reportedly did were demand better drinking water, transportation and higher wages.

Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), a United States-based labour rights monitoring organisation, probed the incident and has released a detailed report ( on the same.

After speaking to a large number of workers as well as representatives of the management, the WRC has concluded in its report that the management did engage “in a campaign of vicious repression and retaliation against workers’ exercise of fundamental labor rights”.



Shahi, India’s largest garment manufacturer, is a family-owned business. Anand Ahuja, its founder’s eldest son, is among the group’s top executives.

The company supplies to top brands like Columbia Sportswear, Benetton, H&M, American Eagle, Decathlon, Gap, Zara, Marks & Spencer, Primark, Puma, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Tesco, Uniqlo, and Walmart.

Apart from the Bengaluru factory, the company has 50 other production facilities in India. It makes over Rs 5,500 crore in annual revenue but pays its 3,000-strong labour-force at the Bengaluru unit estimated average wages of roughly Rs 42 per hour only.



According to the WRC report, the atrocities commited by representatives of the management included “physical beatings, death threats, gender, caste, and religion-based abuse, threats of mass termination and the expulsion from the factory of 15 worker activists”.

The report has documented in great detail the abuse and the role played therein by Shahi managers and supervisors:

  • Called a male worker (whose mother also works at the factory) a “son of a whore,” threatened to send goons to his house to kill his family, and then led and directed his beating
  • Told a female worker, “It won’t be a sin if people kill you and get rid of you”, “you should be shot and disposed of”. “no one will miss you,” and then directed other workers to “kill her,” leading to her being beaten, nearly strangled, and hospitalised overnight.
  • Stated about another female worker, “These whores are trying to close the factory. Beat her and kill her,” before this worker was also beaten, had her clothes torn, and was robbed.
  • Told a male worker, “Your caste is only fit to clean bathrooms. How dare you ask for an increase in wages?” before leading other employees in beating and robbing him.
  • Said of another female worker before she was beaten, “Her caste is meant to burn dead people and that is what she should be doing. Beat her and throw her out.” 

Exposing the particularly anti-labour approach of the company, the report has also alleged that earlier this year, Shahi had successfully lobbied with the government of Karnataka to cancel a scheduled increase in the state’s minimum wage for workers in the garment sector.



The local police, reportedly investigating the incident but were yet to complete it. WRC claimed that police officials were present in the factory on the day of the assault at the company’s request but took no action.

WRC also claimed that Shahi suppressed media coverage of the violence at the factory. According to the report, the English daily Deccan Herald reportedly published an article on the incident on 5 April. However, on 7 April, the newspaper removed the said article from its website and published another article, quoting the Shahi management’s claim that inter-employee conflict caused the violence.

WRC has alleged the newspaper reportedly published this piece as a result of pressure from Shahi. The journalists who filed the original report testimonied to WRC for the original report.


Even as the police case languishes, WRC has noted that Shahi has agreed to take back the workers who were injured in the violence. However, the company has done nothing to ensure workers’ “safe return to the factory and fundamental right of freedom of association”.

The company has also offered “reinstatement with back pay to 12 workers who were suspended by the factory after the violence, including the 10 workers who were physically assaulted”. However, three other employees have not been offered a clear reinstatement and back-pay offer.

Significantly, none of the company employees accused of verbal abuse and ordering physical assault have faced any disciplinary action. Only a few have been transferred to other units, which is hardly a disciplinary move, while most of them are still working at the Unit 8 factory.

WRC also claimed that Shahi refused to commit to recognise the workers’ union.

Interestingly, the report has also exposed the duplicitous role of the big brands that are Shahi’s customers. None of them have pressured Shahi’s management to take action against the accused and recognise the assaulted workers’ rights, even as they claim to stand by these principles in their own internal policies.

“Managers at India’s biggest garment producer assaulted and threatened to kill nearly a dozen workers, because they asked for a raise. And what consequences does this supplier face from customers like Abercrombie & Fitch, Benetton, Columbia, Gap, and H&M? None. Two months later, the same vicious managers are still in charge and the factory is still enjoying the uninterrupted patronage of these brands,” WRC Executive Director Scott Nova said in a statement.

Nova noted that all of these leading brands have policies “supposedly prohibiting physical and verbal abuse of workers and protecting the right to unionise”. However, the fact that they are refusing to demand their supplier to follow similar practices shows that they do not take their commitment to human rights seriously, Nova added.

Catch News reached out to Shahi’s management for comments but was yet to get a response.

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#SundayReading – So Many ‘Strong Women’ Movies, So Few Women Writing Them…

How does Indian cinema fare in terms of female representation? And how much does it have to do with the serious lack of female writers being included?

How do Indian films portray women? Especially, the ones that have done really well at the box office? After all, these are the movies that impact the largest number of people. Would Indian films do a much better job of it if many more of our stories came from women? How does the number of female writers on the team influence the representation of women in the film?

had to find out some things. I’ve tried to explore these questions by taking a look at some of the top Telugu, Hindi, and Tamil films (I considered only movies of those three languages because Tollywood, Bollywood, and Kollywood are the biggest film industries in India) of the years 2016 and 2017.

I did not go into this project thinking that there would be many female writers in the film industry. And when I say writers, I mean writers of any kind – screenwriters, female writers involved in the writing of the original story, and female lyricists. But I was still shocked at just how low the number of women who write for Indian movies is!

Having looked up the numbers, I tried looking at female representation in these films and what I found was quite disturbing.

Telugu cinema…in dire need of female writers

Let’s start with Telugu movies, since they have the least number of female writers in their top ten box office hits of 2016 and 2017. Out of the twenty Telugu films that I examined, only two had female writers in any role at all. (Data source: Compiled from

Out of the top ten Telugu box office hits of 2017 (having a World Wide Gross of 58 crore rupees and above), exactly one film gave equal importance to the male and female characters – Fidaa.Fidaa had an unconventional female lead and it can be said that she drove the film. She does stereotypically masculine things like driving a tractor, etc. The film even has the hero moving in to live with the heroine after they marry instead of the usual ‘women have to leave their family behind to join a new one’ cliché. It is also the only film on the list to have a female writer of any sort – lyricist Chaitanya Pingali.

Of course, it’s not like none of the other films have strong female characters; Baahubali 2: The Conclusion for instance does have some very well-represented women. But none of them are as important as the male protagonist. A fairly important female character from the first film (whose portrayal was already problematic) almost completely disappears in the sequel.

The situation wasn’t any better in 2016; in the list of top ten Telugu box office hits (with a World Wide Gross of 46 crore rupees and above) has just one movie that treats its male and female protagonists the same – A Aa. It is based on a novel called Meena by Yaddanapudi Sulochana Rani. None of the other films had female writers in any capacity. Dhruva has an interesting heroine but she is not nearly as important as the male protagonist and male antagonist.

In both the years 2016 and 2017, the top ten Telugu films were mostly male-driven and the two films which gave women as much importance as men were also the only two that had female writers at all. Both these films were romantic, which is traditionally considered feminine. It would be nice to have equally significant female characters in other genres as well. But at least these two films gave the women as much importance as the men despite being problematic in other ways. Clearly, Telugu cinema is in dire need of female writers!

Hindi cinema…doing better but still some distance to cover

When it comes to Hindi movies, out of the forty that I looked at, only eight had female writers of any sort. (Compiled from

The year 2017 saw quite a few women-oriented films get released by Bollywood and do quite well, like, Toilet: Ek Prem KathaBadrinath Ki DulhaniaSecret SuperstarTumhari Sulu, and Lipstick Under My Burkha. But not all of these films had female writers. Only Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (Garima Wahal was involved in both the writing of the film and the lyrics of the songs along with Siddharth Singh) and Lipstick Under My Burkha (Alankrita Shrivastava wrote both the story and screenplay of this film while Anvita Dutt Guptan was the lyricist) had female writers. In fact, out of the top twenty films, only three had female writers – the ones I’ve already mentioned and Hindi Medium which had a female lyricist – Priya Saraiya.

Despite this, some of the films have portrayed women really well – even the films that weren’t women oriented like Shubh Mangal Saavdhan. Many others have done a horrible job though. Even Bareilly Ki Barfi does a bad job in spite of having an important female protagonist – she isn’t very well-developed. Badrinath Ki Dulhania is superficially feminist, it’s all about breaking out of a patriarchal family hierarchy and letting women give importance to their careers. However, the male protagonist is quite violent towards the female protagonist and literally kidnaps her; yet, this isn’t seen as a big enough thing for her to let him go forever. This diminishes the seriousness of abuse and is a huge problem. Having a female writer might have helped.

2016 was the year of films like PinkDangalNeerja, and Dear Zindagi, all of which had strong female protagonists. However, only five out of the top twenty films had any female writers, three of them being PinkNeerja and Dear Zindagi. Out of these five films, two of the films had only female lyricists – Pink and Housefull 3Neerja was written by one female writer and two male writers. One of the writers of Kapoor & Sons was a woman and so was one of the lyricists. A woman wrote both the story and the screenplay of Dear Zindagi.

There is no doubt that the 2016 Hindi films that had a woman on the story writing or screenplay writing team succeeded in representing women better than those that didn’t. This holds good even for women-oriented films with all-male writing teams and not particularly ‘feminist’ films with a woman on the writing team. For example, Kapoor & Sons managed to treat its women with a lot of empathy and sensitivity despite its seemingly patriarchal name while Pink and Dangal were supposed to be feminist but ended up letting the male protagonists take centre-stage beyond a point, especially Dangal which punishes its female protagonist for going against her father.

Housefull 3 is proof that not all films with a female writer involved in any way are going to be progressive. But it does seem to help in most cases, especially, if the writer is involved in writing the story or screenplay. And that’s why Hindi movies are in want of more women who write.

Tamil Cinema…positive but on the surface

The pie chart for Kollywood paints a more optimistic picture than those of Bollywood and Tollywood. There were seven Tamil films that had female writers out of the twenty that I analysed. When we dig a little deeper though, the picture gets less positive. (Data source: compiled from 

First of all, in both 2016 and 2017, most of the female writers were lyricists and not involved in the story or screenplay of the movies. Now, female lyricists could help make a movie’s representation of women better but they wouldn’t be able to influence the film as much as a story or screenplay writer. Out of the ten Tamil hit films of 2017 that I researched, a few had interesting female characters like Baahubali 2: The Conclusion and Vikram Vedha (the only film on the list that was co-written by a woman) but only two gave very significant roles to women – Magalir Mattum which had two female lyricists and Aval which had no female writers (just three films had female writers out of which two only had female lyricists). And these two films weren’t perfect.

Magalir Mattum despite being empowering to women still seemed to imply that a ‘modern woman’ is required to rescue ‘traditional women’. This stereotype was also seen in the 2015 Tamil film 36 Vayadhinile in which the visibly ‘modern’ Susan is the ‘traditional’ Vasanthi’s saviour. As for Aval, it literally translates to She and the film has mostly female main characters who do very cool things. Yet, I got the impression that the story still revolved around the male protagonist – the film seemed to be narrating his story. Even when they have great female characters, a male character is still the centre of most Tamil films.

The year 2016 was even more disappointing in terms of female representation in Tamil films; all ten of the hit movies that I analysed didn’t have a single female writer in the story writing or screenplay writing team. Only four of the films had female lyricists. It is therefore no surprise that none of these films did complete justice to the representation of women even though some of them had really interesting female characters like Iru MuganKodi, and Kabali. The women, no matter how awesome they were, were always playing second fiddle to the men! For instance, Kodi had actress Trisha playing a brilliant politician who just happened to be the film’s antagonist and therefore had to lose to the male protagonist played by Dhanush. It’s almost like career women who put their career above everything else for ‘selfish’ reasons have to be portrayed as ‘bitches’ who lose it all in the end!

On the bright side, Thamarai is a very popular lyricist, something that isn’t seen very often of female lyricists in Indian cinema. And she wrote a feminist song, Gandhari Yaaro, for the feminist film Magalir Mattum. So, did Uma Devi, who wrote Adi Vaadi Thimira.

But on the whole, Kollywood could do with a lot more female writers, especially story writers and screenwriters to improve the female representation in Tamil films.

Women writers of India, Indian cinema needs you and so do we because movies tell stories that reach everyone and stories are the backbone of societies!

So Many ‘Strong Women’ Movies, So Few Women Writing Them…

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