Controversial film Sexy Durga offers a searing look at patriarchy and misogyny in India Aparita Bhandari Special to The Globe and Mail Published May 8, Updated May 10, When Sanal Kumar Sasidharan came up with Sexy Durga as the name for his latest film, one of his team members immediately pointed out that the title might bring him trouble.
There are lots of people with no jobs, they are frustrated and they want to create problems. Plus, in the Indian situation nowadays, everything is politicized. People wanted to [suggest] that this is an attack against Hinduism, or against Durga.
The film was cleared by the Indian censor board, after Sasidharan complied with their demands for some audio cuts and a name change to S Durga. Even though Sasidharan got a court order to ensure his film screened at IFFI, in the end it was not shown at the festival. The festival runs from May 10 to May 21, with screenings taking place across Toronto and its suburbs. A collaboration with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health presents the Roshni Project , a series of four short films produced by South Asian women in Toronto experiencing mental illness and the challenges in finding help.
We want to open other possibilities to fight this violence. This is the society we are living in. We need to confront it, then only we can change it. The action takes place in one night. Durga, a Hindu migrant woman from North India, and Kabeer, a Muslim man from Kerala, are on the run, hitching rides to a train station. They get picked up by two men in a van. A sinister atmosphere starts to build up — from the banter between the men, the blaring music playing and other encounters on the road — putting Durga increasingly ill at ease.
The film is a result of years of rumination on how patriarchy permeates Indian society at all levels, many times upheld by women themselves, Sasidharan says.
I was trying to understand that. We had to wait until 12 a. During the shoot, real life would organically intrude on reel life. They wanted to harass us, asking us what we are doing out at night, especially with a lady. They thought we were doing some illegal activity. Actually, what you see in the film sometimes also happened. Bollywood directors Hansal Mehta, whose latest film Omerta screens as part of the festival, and Anurag Kashyap are also in town to offer a master class May