At the premier of national award winning filmmaker, Vibha Bakshi’s Son Rise, the UN Under-Secretary General Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka who unveiled the film, rightly said,“The beautiful thing about the art is that it reflects our thoughts, it changes our minds, it demonstrates our foolishness, it brings tears into our eyes but it leaves us with profound opportunity to reflect. The UN Women is very proud to be associated with Son Rise and United Nations is proud to be a part of this journey.”
I couldn’t agree with her more! It was an honor to be one of the privileged few to have got the opportunity to view this eye opening film.I have cried, felt the pain, sadness, anger and at times numb as I watched this brilliantly made documentary.
Son Rise is set in Haryana, which is a state with one of the most skewed sex ratios and the highest rate of gender crimes reported in the country. The film focuses on unsung heroes from Haryana, standing up for the cause of gender equality in this land of ‘Khap’ panchayat. As simple as that may sound, it takes immense courage to venture into a such a place that is dominated by men, bring to light the malpractices that take place there, AND get men and women from there to speak up against those malpractices. Vibha has done it all in this documentary and how!
While it is a documentary about a social issue that plagues our country, Vibha has shot it in such a skillful and interesting way that it leaves a huge impact on the audience. It makes the audience sit up and think. It’s a film which is filled with emotions, makes you cry and at the same time leaves you with hope that change is possible, although the fight is long and hard.
In those 50 minutes of the film which was shot over a period of two years, Vibha has managed to put across stories of the plight of women and girls in Haryana. Stories that most of us privileged ones might find difficult to believe.The interesting part however is that Vibha has not tried to tell a story about how the entire state is changing, but she has tried to focus on the good, on the few good men. She has put a spotlight on these brave men who have made the effort to bring about a change, something even the well read, well placed, city bred men might never have the courage to do! She has showed how men right from the doctor in the civil hospital, to the Khap Panchayat leader, in their own way dared to have the courage to break the silence.
Right from the first shot of the film, the documentary is only about men. It’s about a father who hopes to see a better future for his two little daughters, a farmer who marries a gang rape survivor and goes on to help more such survivors while his mother bravely supports him.She also highlights how because there are not enough women for the men to get married to, they go the extent of buying their brides from as far as Assam and Bengal. She shows the helplessness of these young women who have been bought and forcefully married.There is a scene which is heartbreaking, where Vibha talks to one such woman from Assam, who tells her about how she misses her home and how she has had to adjust to a completely different culture.
Speaking about the film, Vibha said, “One film cannot solve all the issues, but if it can even create a ripple effect or stir a conversation and a dialogue then you’ve succeeded.” All we can say is the standing ovation, of a full house, at the Royal Opera House in Mumbai where the film was screened, was testament enough that the film is already a success! It is successful in making people aware and inspired to do more.