Accsex (2013)

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Synopsis: Beautiful. Ugly. Complete. Incomplete. Able. Disabled. Within stifling dichotomies of normal and abnormal, lie millions of women, negotiating with their identities. This film explores notions of beauty, the ‘ideal body’ and sexuality through four storytellers; four women who happen to be persons with disability. Through the lives of Natasha, Sonali, Kanti and Abha, this film brings to fore questions of acceptance, confidence and resistance to the normative. As it turns out, these questions are not too removed from everyday realities of several others, deemed ‘imperfect’ and ‘monstrous’ for not fitting in. Accsex traces the journey of the storytellers as they reclaim agency and the right to unapologetic confidence, sexual expression and happiness.

Producer: Public Service Broadcasting Trust; Year of Release: 2013; Telecast on Doordarshan (DD National) 2015

Awards: Special Mention at the 61st Indian National Film Awards 2014, presented by the Honble. President of India, Honourable Mention at the IAWRT International Awards 2013, Casblanca, Morocco (TV Documentary category), Special Mention at the 5th BOSIFEST – Belgrade International Disability Film Festival, Serbia, 2014, 2nd Prize at WeCare Film Festival (on Disability Rights) 2014, New Delhi Festival

Selected Festivals and Screenings: Picture This Film Festival, Calgary (Alberta), Canada (2014), Sydney Intercultural Film Festival, Sydney, Australia (2013), Public screenings by LSE Intersectional Feminist Society (2016), Sisters of Frida, London, Centre for Disability Studies, University of Leeds, UK (2015), Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York (2015), UK, International Film Festival for People with Disabilities (IFFPD), 2015, We Care Disability Film Festival (Travelling Film Festival) (2014), 10th IAWRT (India Chapter) Film Festival, screening at Jesus and Mary College, Delhi University, New Delhi, Bangalore Queer Film Festival, Bangalore (2014), PSBT Open Frame International Film Festival, New Delhi (2013), VIBGYOR Film Festival, Kerala (2014), Women at Work Film Festival , Ahmedabad (2014).

Credits: Divya Cowasji (Camera), Priiya Prethora (Sound), Shweta Ghosh (Script, Direction & Edit), Divya Cowasji, Vikas Jaiswal (Video post-production), Anindo Bose (Sound Restoration, Re-mixing & VO Recording)

Selected Reviews and Director Interviews: Sexuality and Disability Blog, Scroll.in, The Reel@Scroll.InThe Indian Express, The DNASakal Times

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Steeped and Stirred (2016)

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Synopsis: Chai. Chaya. Chaha. Cha. Sa. For a phenomenon that is assumed to be integral to ‘Indian culture’, tea drinking only gained ground over a century ago. A successful advertisement campaign and copious promotion of tea turned it into an essential everyday beverage, closely seconded by coffee. ‘Authentic’ methods of preparation, though, were tweaked to suit tastes and tea drinking became as diverse as the culture of the subcontinent; from saccharine-sweet, spiced, ‘cooked’ tea to sumptuous long-leaf and salted, buttered concoctions, the camellia sinensis was savoured in all textures and climates.

Much like other culinary practices, tea began to define individual and community identities, similarities and differences. While tea made some spaces thoroughly inclusive, it also rendered many inaccessible. Elite tea drinking required that tea leaves be luxurious and abundant per cup. The chai tapris or tea stalls, on the other hand, re-used and stretched the flavour of smaller quanitities to make tea affordable. The same stalls, although seemingly approachable across class, often turned out to be sites of marginalization for gender and caste minorities. Who drank tea, where and how was marked by what one was perceived to be, making the very act mundane or revolutionary. And yet, the unifying characteristic of tea found crevices to emerge and rupture this narrative. The ability of this unassuming cup to initiate stirring conversation and debate, or make space amidst the commercial chaos to simply ‘loiter’ and relax, was remarkable.

Steeped and Stirred explores tea preparation and drinking in diverse contexts, to explore the social, cultural and political history of tea drinking in India. It tries to understand the various ways in which tea unites and divides us by connecting multiple narratives from across the country. Through an audio-visual canvas of the lush tea gardens of West Bengal, the buzzing coffee houses of Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram, the bustling Irani cafes of Mumbai and Hyderabad and the omnipresent chai tapri, this film captures the essence of tea drinking in India in all its eccentricity.

Producer: Public Service Broadcasting Trust; Year of Release: 2016; Telecast on Doordarshan (DD National) 2016

Selected Reviews and Director Interviews: FirstPost, The Reel@Scroll.in, The HinduThe Indian Express, The Hindu BusinesslineLivemintMid Day, The Tea House Times

World Premiere: PSBT Open Frame Film Festival, New Delhi 2016

Credits: V. R. Harish (Sound Recording, Design and Mixing), Shweta Ghosh (Script, Direction, Camera & Edit), Surya Narayanan (Colour Correction and Grading)

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Chatkorichya Athvani/A Slice of Memory (2015)

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Synopsis: 

Bhalchandra (90) and Kalindi Morje (83), lovingly known as Appa Ajoba and Kaku Ajji, are the oldest surviving members of the Morje family that settled in the coastal town of Vengurla in the 19th century. In an attempt to re-imagine and chronicle their lived histories along the Konkan coast of western India, the filmmaker, who also happens to be their grand niece, stumbles upon Appa’s handwritten account of his early life and times and a family tree she can’t find her name in.

To add to the golden, crumbling sheets of these lucidly written memories are Ajji’s witty narrations of cuisine, tradition and culture. As Ajji tells her more about how the family lived and ate, the filmmaker begins to find its resonance in stories her beloved deceased grandfather once told her about sea, sand and food. And within these blurry childhood memories of her maternal family and Vengurla, simmer questions of origin, belonging and home.

As she begins to makes sense of Appa’s nostalgia and Ajji’s recollections of childhood, migration and change, the filmmaker unearths the ancestral history of a chatkor (one-fourth) of her multi caste, regional and linguistic self. She negotiates with her experience of placelessness, only to find home in the familiar sizzle of fried bangra (mackerel), the warmth of pungent triphala spice and the balmy lusciousness of golden Alphonsos.

Producer: School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai (A fellowship film supported via the Jamsetji Tata Trust).

Selected Festivals and Screenings: Imagine India Film Festival, Madrid, Spain (2015), Food Film Fest, Bergamo, Italy (2015), ‘Camera and I’: Personal Documentaries, Films Division, Mumbai, India (2015), Cut.In Film Festival, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India (2015); VIBGYOR International Film Festival, Kerala (Thrissur) India (2015)

Credits: Ajay Noronha (Camera), Suresh Rajamani (Sound Recording),Shweta Ghosh (Script, Direction & Edit), Unny (Sound Design and Mixing), Ajay Noronha (Colour Correction and Grading)

Selected Reviews and Director Interviews: The Times of India, Timeout

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