Filmmaker Nandita Das has used her lockdown to release a film on domestic violence, a concern raised by organisations across the world during the coronavirus lockdown. The seven-minute film, titled Listen to Her, features Nandita and her son Vihaan.
Watch the short here:
The film opens with Nandita trying to work from home during the lockdown but interruptions keep appearing in the form of household chores. She is in the middle of a meeting when her ‘husband’ keeps asking her to do something or the other, or her son demands her attention.
In the middle of a stupendously busy day, she receives a call from an unknown number. The voice at the other end is that of a distraught woman, begging for help. At first Nandita disconnects the call, but later when the phone rings again she is in for a rude shock.
Speaking to Mumbai Mirror about her decision to make the film, Nandita says,
“Abuse need not only be physical, it can be verbal and mental as well. Even before I started pursuing my masters in social work, I was aware of the reality. As a society, we don’t speak about domestic abuse often, but that does not mean it doesn’t exist. I have friends and relatives who have been in abusive relationships, but what is unnerving is the silence around it”.
The filmmaker also opened up about the challenges of shooting from home. “With no crew, camera and tripod for my phone, I had to use my old phone to record the sound separately. Then I coordinated with two of my team members via Zoom to view the footage while I was shooting. My cook Bharat served as the camera operator and I shot the film over three mornings”, Nandita said. She also acknowledged that this exercise made her realise all the more that filmmaking is a collaborative process.
According to a report published by the National Commission of Women (NCW) sometime in mid-April, cases of domestic violence are on the rise because of the coronavirus lockdown. From 24 March till 1 April, 257 complaints related to various offences against women were received. Of the 257, 69 complaints are related to domestic violence, the data released by the NCW showed. Even the United Nations called for measures to address the “horrific global surge in domestic violence”.