Interrogating the collaborative filming practices of Deepa Dhanraj and Navroze Contractor, was the panel of discussants comprised of Dr. Madhavi Menon, Pankaj Butali and Mukul Avijit Kishore. Holding true to Deepa’s illustrious legacy as a champion feminist, Madhavi raised questions of agency in brining in the director’s voice in lending force to the film, and about the contradictory ways in which women’s emotions are portrated in Deepa’s films. Pankaj’s query revolved around the choices made by filmmakers in selecting a ‘form’ for their film. Sanjay Kak’s astute critique manifested itself as an answer – “Your films are very clearly observed but, they aren’t observational themselves.” Within the thematic of the conversation, Deepa spoke about an ‘impulse’ that each film suggests. Navroze spoke about the value of intuition in filming as grammar in cinema.
The morning ended with the screening of ‘Something Like a War’ which concluded the session on Subject and Power on a climactic note. The afternoon session saw a shift in tone from the high palisades of power to the meek but formidable voices the subaltern.
Beginning with the screening of Surabhi Sharma’s ‘Jari Mari: Of Cloth and Other Stories’, the afternoon session titled, ‘Bidesia and Beyond: Subaltern Realities’ interrogated Surabhi’s decade old engagement with labour, music and the city. With Rupleena Bose and Sanjay Kak on the panel of discussants, the conversation yielded candid thoughts on such abstract and emotional issues such as identity, invisibility, dispensability and indifference. Sanjay Kak’s remark captured the spirit of the film, ‘Jari Mari’ – “In this post-industrialist depiction of Mumbai, people are out of work alright, but there is also the looming prospect of hunger. It really drives home why we do what we do.” With the floor thrown open for audience participation and upon provocation by a young enthusiast, the auditorium was engulfed in an exciting debate on the role of repetition in documentary filmmaking. Surabhi Sharma, presented a personal view which valued repetition as positive reinforcement not only for the filmmaker but also for the society of viewers.
The afternoon came to a close with the screening of ‘Can We See The Baby Bump, Please?’, Surabhi’s latest endeavour which deals with the subaltern realities of a very new breed – commercial surrogacy in India.
In the evening, the audience were treated to a twin film screening of Deepa Dhanraj’s ‘Invoking Justice’ and Surabhi Sharma’s ‘Bidesia in Bambai’ – each film representing the characteristic ilk of their filmmakers. As the day ended, this back to back screening offered the perfect conclusion for a day’s talk on ‘Subject, Power and Subaltern Realities’.